From books to blackbirds

The blackbird was the most common playground visitor in 2016. Picture courtesy of RSPB

The blackbird was the most common playground visitor in 2016. Picture courtesy of RSPB

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Children all over Northumberland are swapping books for binoculars to take part in the UK’s biggest schools wildlife survey.

The RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2017 takes place during the first half of the spring term and helps children discover the wonderful wildlife they share their school grounds with, while providing a helpful insight into which species are thriving or declining.

It aims to inspire children to care about the natural world around them in the hope they’ll want to help protect it for future generations.

Last year, almost 100,000 pupils and teachers from schools all over the UK took part by counting the birds that visited their school grounds.

Over the years, more than 70 different species have been recorded, ranging from starlings and house sparrows, to red kites and green woodpeckers.

The blackbird remained the most common playground visitor in 2016, while starlings held onto the second spot.

And for the first time wood pigeons made the top three, jumping up the list from sixth position the year before.

Emma Reed, RSPB education, families and youth manager in northern England, said: “Taking part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch uses just one lesson or lunchtime so it’s really easy to get involved.

“We hope the excitement of taking part will then inspire children in Northumberland to get out and experience more of the wildlife around them.”

Teachers can pick any day during the first half of spring term to take part.

To register for the Big Schools’ Birdwatch, visit rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch Everything schools need to take part is available to download.