As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

RSPB News: Children in West Country to spot birds in their playgrounds

Media release


Children in West Country to spot birds in their playgrounds
RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch:  5 January - 13 February
It’s back – the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch has started, with children across the West Country peering out of their classroom windows to take part in the world’s biggest school wildlife survey.

Running from 5 January-13 February 2015, the survey encourages schoolchildren of all ages, and their teachers, to count the birds in their school grounds for one hour of one day. Each school’s findings will help the RSPB’s experts to build a picture of bird populations and monitor any changes.

Last year, more than 70,000 pupils and teachers across the UK took part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch, which revealed the blackbird as the most commonly seen bird in school grounds, with 85% of schools seeing an average of five [see note 1].

Now the RSPB is looking forward to receiving this year’s school wildlife sightings, which also contribute to the results of the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch – the biggest wildlife survey in the world, which takes place on 24-25 January.

Tony Whitehead, speaking for the RSPB in the south west said: “Taking part in the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a fantastic excuse to stare out of the classroom window and discover much more about the wildlife which visits your playground. It only takes an hour and can be held anytime between now and 13 February.

“By keeping a look out and making a note of the different kinds of birds, children will not only improve their observation skills and enjoy a great learning experience, but they will also be encouraged to want to help to give nature a home, which is fantastic.” [See note 4].

There is still time for schools to sign up to take part in the Birdwatch. Teachers, helpers or children don’t need to be experts to take part in the survey. Everything a teacher would need to plan a fantastic Birdwatch, and develop their children’s knowledge and interest in the birds they see every day, is available to download, including guidance notes, recipes, things to make and counting charts.

Tony added: “There’s plenty of flexibility for schools to run the survey as simply as they would like, or as the centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, project work or as part of work to improve their school grounds.

“It’s fun, easy and simple to set up, it works for all ages, and even if it’s a dull, rainy January day, you can still gaze out of the classroom window and see a flash of colour. We hope as many schools as possible in the West Country will take part in this great event and, don’t forget, the Birdwatch can also be adapted for youth groups such as Brownies and Cubs.”

The RSPB has also produced specially designed resources for under-5s, children aged five to eleven and for those aged 11 and above.

For further information on Big Schools’ Birdwatch, visit and for more information on the Big Garden Birdwatch, visit

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