Bringing children and nature together


  • Big Schools' Birdwatch is back!

    Big Schools’ Birdwatch is Back!

    I’m delighted to announce that Big Schools’ Birdwatch is now open for registration at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch

    If you’ve not taken part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch before – you should. Essentially, you and your class (or group, club etc.,) need to spend a total of one hour between the 5th January and the 13th February (the first half-term after Christmas) recording birds in your school grounds. To make this easier for you, every class that registers will get a free, full-colour ID resource (a set of A4 cards for younger children, a big, impressive poster for the older children). Furthermore (aren’t we generous?) our website has downloadable resources such as survey sheets, poster blanks and activity sheets to support you.

     Picture credit David McHugh (rspb-images.com)


    Need a reason to take part? Well, firstly the Big Schools’ Birdwatch provides strong links to the science curriculum, and can also give real-world relevence to maths activities such as tallying (for younger children) and data-handling.

    Secondly, nature is in trouble. The population of starlings, for example, has dropped by over 80% since 1970. By recording birds for just one hour, you help provide us with a snapshot of how wild birds are faring in your area, contributing to a bigger picture of how well some of our favourite species are coping across the entire UK.

    Every schools that takes part and sumbits their results by the 20th February will recieve a certificate and a free wildlife poster to help you appreciate the wildlife in your grounds for the rest of the schoolm year.

     Picture credit Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    What next?

    Please take the time to visit our website to register your school, class or group and to download all the information and resources you need. There will also be plenty of tips and ideas for how you can help to give nature a home in the run up to the Birdwatch via this blog and the @RSPB_Learning twitter feed on the Big Schools’ Birdwatch homepage. Simply visit rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch to get started.

    If you have any queries, or would simply like to give us some feedback, you can contact us at schoolswatch@rspb.org.uk.

    We hope you enjoy taking part in this year’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch!

  • How you can help to put nature at the heart of all schools


    Picture credit Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    As a reader of this blog, I know you are passionate about inspiring children to care for nature, and know the diverse benefits it can bring to children, the environment and wider society?* This post is a call for you all to help make sure all children connect with nature, by sharing your enthusiasm and experiences...

    The RSPB believes that all children should have regular opportunities to connect with nature, and that schools can play a role in that. That’s why – working with The Wildlife Trusts – we are calling on all the main political parties to value nature and secure its recovery by committing to a new Nature and Wellbeing Act.

    As part of this new legislation, we believe that the Education Act in England should be amended to ensure that all children leave school with the knowledge, skills and motivation to care for and benefit from our environment. We will be sharing more details later in the autumn, and you can read more now here.

    The good news is that we’re not alone in thinking these would be good things for children or nature. Our friends at SEEd (Sustainability and Environmental Education) are calling for the same amendment. And this is where you can help.

    As part of their campaign SEEd are asking for educators, head teachers, parents and grandparents to show their backing for making these changes by sharing their passion and support for children learning to care for the natural environment and live sustainably. Find out more information from SEEd here.

    If you would like to take part, please send your contributions to campaigns@se-ed.org.uk.



    Picture credit Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    * if you need a little reminder of those benefits, check out our Every Child Outdoors report at rspb.org.uk/childrenneednature

  • Guest post from Stuart Benn - Eagles on the 4th July

    Today's guest post comes from Stuart Benn who is the Communicating Nature Officer from RSPB Scotland's Inverness Office. He has provided this brilliant write up of one young person's fantastic opportunity to connect to nature and learn from the experts about our conservation work.


    Inspiring the Next Generation

    I was born on the 4th of July but I didn’t spend my birthday week putting on a song and dance routine like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, Instead, I was fitting satellite tags on golden eagle chicks. And I wasn’t alone – 18 year old Luke Curno came along too.

    Picture Credit Stuart Benn


    It’s become fashionable to knock the young – that they’re obsessed with the virtual world and their interest in nature stops with Sonic the Hedgehog. But some people are challenging that view and, just as importantly, doing something about it. And one of those is Lucy McRobert who, with others, set up A Focus on Nature, an organisation run by young people, for young people to get them involved in, enthused and passionate about the natural world.

    I like what they do, I like it a lot so I got in touch. One thing led to another, AFON ran a competition on the theme of bird of prey persecution and Luke won with his video about peregrines in south-west England. His prize – a day out helping RSPB North Scotland fit satellite tags to golden eagles!

    Picture Credit Stuart Benn

    Luke lives in Devon – not the most convenient for North Scotland but his dad, Greg, stepped in and drove them both up north making a wee holiday of it.

    And what a day we had – brown hares, mountain hares, peeping common sandpipers and spotted flycatchers on the drive in, a steep climb in the sun to the eyrie to get the chicks. Lovely, healthy twins – one male and one female which Luke has called Errol and Sorcha (Gaelic for ‘wanderer’ and ‘brightness’). And whilst we got on with the delicate business of tagging, Luke filmed the whole thing – bit of editing still to be done but keep an eye out for ‘Eagle tagging – the movie’ coming out soon!


    Picture Credit Luke Curno


    Job done we had a leisurely walk out and a chance to talk about those eagle chicks and what they’ll do and see. To talk about the different sides of land management in North Scotland – those carrying out fantastic and visionary restoration work whilst others are still stuck in the Victorian era. To take time out to watch frogs and froglets hop off. To appreciate how lucky we are.

    Luke is now back down south with a different view of life than when he set off. He’s said he’ll never forget the day and nor will I – it really was extra special and particular thanks are due to Anders Holch Povlsen who owns the ground where we tagged and to Lucy, we couldn’t have done it without them.