Monday, 20 July 2015

Project Wild Thing: Day 2 & 3

Day 2: Birds and Badgers

My colleague and I arrived at work at 8:00 am. She is licensed to ring birds, so to give our students an experience of bird ringing, we set up a mist net around a bird feeding station. We also checked our camera trap (nothing) and our two mammal tunnels. The weather overnight had been wet and windy, so we weren't expecting much. To our surprise though, there had been a small bird through both tunnels although we're not sure what!

We had also arranged for Dr Jen Smart (of Springwatch fame) to speak to us about her work on badgers. Follow the link to find out more about her work. She brought in a GPS collar for the pupils to look at and explained all about the behaviour or the Minsmere badgers.

During her talk, a sparrow was caught in the mist net. So we paused and brought it in to ring, weigh and record. The pupils were fascinated by being so up close to a wild bird, especially when they got to hold and release her. We caught another female sparrow later in the afternoon.

Our next mission was to look at enticing and making homes for birds. Our students, with the exception of one vegetarian, took up the gauntlet and got messy using lard, dried fruits and sunflower seeds to make 'fat balls' to hang up around the school. A very messy but hopefully worthwhile endeavor. Our technology department were also kind enough to cut us out some bird box templates, so we thoroughly exhausted ourselves trying to hammer them together and paint them. Some have opted to take theirs home to put up in their gardens, others have left them for us to put up around the school.

For the last part of the afternoon, we went on a bird walk around the field to see what we could spot, and see if we could put into practice the bird calls we had been trying to memorize throughout the day. We have five oystercatchers on site, some of which allow us to get quite close before flying and alarming, so we managed a few pictures of them.

Day 3: Pensthorpe

Today, we took our pupils to one of my favourite places. We had a lovely day out. We started off in the Wader Aviary, identifying red shank, stilt, bearded tits, avocets... then went to feed the wildfowl collection. One of our pupils went from being scared of the birds to wanting to feed them really quite quickly. They enjoyed watching the birds rushing for the food and diving for it under the water.

At 11:00 am, we had booked to meet Tulu the barn owl. We got really up close to this beautiful bird and their knowledgeable park warden explained the different adaptations of the barn owl (eyes, ears, beak, talons), quizzed our pupils and answered their questions. We even each got a turn to stroke her. All were amazed by how silky soft her feathers were and how calm she was with particular people.

After our amazing experience with the barn owl, we visited the conservation area. We looked at the red squirrels and all the different sorts of crane. Our pupils were particularly taken with the Northern bald ibis. There were also lots of young birds around these parts. The white-naped crane chick had finally hatched and there was a much larger but still young crane in another enclosure. Mallard ducklings and young moorhens were also to be seen around the park. These certainly had the cute factor for our pupils!

After lunch, we went on the long trail through the woods and along the river. I didn't notice at first, but the younger and faster eyes of some of our pupils did - there were froglets everywhere in the leaf litter either side of the path! We tried a bird hide, but there seemed to be an early afternoon lull in activity, so we only lasted five minutes before most of number were 'bored' and wanted to leave. We continued our walk and ended up at 'Wildrootz' where they could relax and have some fun before heading back to school. All in all, a successful day!

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoying reading your updates. How exciting that the children could get involved in bird ringing! Thanks for sharing :)