Cumber Claudy kids get set for bird survey

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Local children are getting ready to learn all about the birds and wildlife that visit their playground as the RSPB launches Big Schools Birdwatch 2015 in Londonderry.

On Friday, January 9, Mayor Brenda Stevenson will be at Cumber Claudy Primary School in her home village of Claudy to take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey.

This fun citizen science project takes just one hour but is a great way of getting children outdoors and connected to nature.

By preparing their school grounds for some feathered visitors, such as putting out feeders, teachers and pupils are also helping to give nature a home.

Speaking ahead of the Big Schools Birdwatch, Councillor Stevenson said: “I would really encourage everyone to support this campaign, which is not only fun for children of all ages, but also a great way for them to learn more about their natural environment.

“There are number of ways children can get involved in the Birdwatch and all participants will play a valuable role in monitoring our native species when they register their results online.”

RSPB NI Education Manager Jess McVicar added: “Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a great activity for children of all ages to find out about the birds visiting their school grounds. There are loads of RSPB curriculum-linked activities and resources that are available for schools – some teachers make the activity part of their Eco-Schools Biodiversity topic and the centrepiece of a whole week devoted to learning about wild birds.”

Teachers can register to take part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch now at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch and take part until 13 February.

Helpful resources are also available to download, including recipes and counting charts.

Once they have finely tuned their ID skills, kids can go home and teach their parents what they’ve learnt by participating in the Big Garden Birdwatch.

The whole family can get together for one hour over the weekend of January 24/25 to count the birds they see.

This information about the changes in numbers of birds using our gardens in winter helps alert conservationists to species in decline.

Last year more than 12,000 people in Northern Ireland took part and, of the 127,700 birds counted, house sparrows were the most commonly seen here.

If you’d like to get involved this year, it couldn’t be easier - you can even take the kids to your local park if you don’t have a garden.

When the Birdwatch kicks off you’ll be able to use the online bird counting tool to identify and record the birds as you see them directly on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. You can, of course, still take part with pen and paper and then enter your results on your computer or by filling in a paper survey form and posting it to the charity.

Register to take part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2015 at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch and count the birds that are counting on you.