Education news

Children to take part in biggest wildlife survey in schools

Pupils from St Francis' PS in Lurgan taking part in the RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch

CHILDREN will be filling up feeders and creating wildlife-friendly bakes in preparation for watching and counting birds in their school grounds.

The 2020 RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch gives pupils a chance to put down their books and discover the nature in their community.

It involves children spending an hour watching and counting the birds that visit their outdoor space, before submitting the results to the RSPB.

Last year, almost 7,000 children took part across 103 schools in Northern Ireland. The survey results showed that blackbirds remained in top spot, with starlings and black-headed gulls coming in second and third.

Across the UK as a whole, robins, house sparrows and woodpigeons all featured prominently.

Dywer Coleman, a teacher at St Francis' PS in Lurgan said the event was hotly anticipated each year, with every child getting out to count birds.

"Since starting to monitor our birds, we've made some amazing discoveries," he said.

"As soon as the kids fill the feeders in the morning, a host of finches, tits and robins descend in force. We've even had a female sparrowhawk swooping into the feeders.

"It's an amazing way for children to get out of the classroom and learn about the natural world."

Karen Sheil, RSPB NI Learning Development Officer, said Big Schools' Birdwatch was a fun, educational activity and free to every school.

"It's flexible enough to fit into a lesson or during lunchtime and links well to the curriculum or project work and works for all ages and abilities. It also gives children an opportunity to get outside, experience and learn about wildlife local to them."

:: To take part, visit www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch. Registration is open until February 2 and results can be submitted up to February 21.

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