A lot of people may find it easy to believe that bird watching as well as other observations of the natural world) and the conservation efforts that go with it, is a field that is dominated by the older generations. On Wednesday I got to attend a young birders workshop arranged by A Focus On Nature, and was able to meet a fantastic group of young people at the BTO headquarters in Thetford. I listened to many of them talk about why it is they are so passionate about not only birding, but the natural world around them. It truly was an inspiration to listen to so many youngsters give talks (and the odd slightly older, Matthew Bruce), and encouraging to see such enthusiasm from them for something that I'm sure all of us share a common passion for.


 Copyright Ed Marshall. Some of the young naturalists attending the Young Birders Workshop.

In the morning there was a bird ringing workshop which helped to show what sort of work bird ringers do and why, and there was even the chance to release some of the birds once all the data had been recorded. Activities such as this is a great way to inspire the younger generation, and if you know any young people who are interested in helping and getting to work closely with nature, then training to become a bird ringer is a fantastic way to do this! This sort of work often involves some of the more common species such as the robin pictured below (top), but every now and then there may be a bit of a surprise in the mist nets (below bottom)...

 Copyright Ed Marshall. A robin caught during the morning bird ringing workshop, being released by keen young birder Ben Moyes.

 Copyright Ed Marshall. The staff at the workshop were fantastic, offering friendly advice and expert knowledge. They even offer service with a smile after ringing a mallard duck that took a bit of a fancy to the nearby mist nets!

Towards the end of the day, there was even a debate focused around what peoples thoughts were on the topic of how young birders are perceived, and indeed on how they felt about voicing their love of the natural world. What was said came as a large surprise to myself. When I was growing up, I was always a lover of the natural world, and that was something that most of my friends knew. It was something that I generally didn't talk about, I knew they weren’t really interested and they understood that was my “thing” and it was left at that. To hear that some young people have suffered bullying where their passion is concerned was disheartening. It’s a reflection of how some of the next generation look upon those who care about the natural world and want to do something to ensure its there to be enjoyed in the future. My hope is that the pendulum will eventually swing in the other direction, bringing in a greater number of those who have an appreciation for the natural world around us. I already see amongst the emails that are sent in, that many of you out there are actively encouraging the younger generation to get excited about the natural world, and that is great to see. Maybe at some point in the future, they themselves will be visiting such workshops in order to talk about their own passion for watching wildlife!


 Copyright Ed Marshall. A Speckled Wood butterfly basking in the morning sun.

In the meantime, I encourage all of you to get out and enjoy the fantastic spring time weather we have been having of late, as I have no doubt that in true British form it will all come to an end soon!