Guest blog from Gavin Thomas, Bowland Wader Project Officer.
Last week I was sat, brew in hand at kitchen table, with yet another Bowland farmer who is doing his bit to make space for nature on his land. The chat was broken as the door burst open and in piled the kids back from school. His youngest girl, Jessica, ignored the computer, games console, toy tractors, sheep, chickens and other items of childhood fascination strewn across the kitchen floor and wasted no time in naming the Lapwing, its chick and the Curlew pictured on the ‘management calendar for waders’ I’d just handed the farmer to pin up on his notice board!
John Stott shows off his 'Tewit' field. © Carol Bamber, RSPB
Now rewind a year.... me, Carol and June (two of our brilliant team of field teachers) and a gang of 18 Bowland school kids are sat in a bird hide waiting patiently for a Lapwing’s alarm calls to subside and her brood of recently hatched chicks to emerge from cover. ‘There it is!!!’ we whispered as the first chick raised its head from a grass tussock and began running back towards the insect carpeted muddy edge of the scrape to feed. ‘aaaaah, sooooo cute’ tends to be the typical response whenever the kids get to witness this magic Bowland moment and I never tire of being part of it!
"That's the wader with a carrot for a beak" © Carol Bamber, RSPB
We were on a visit to a farm near Bleasdale, the final chapter of a four part thriller (three took place in the school classroom!) learning all about Bowland, its special people, places and wildlife and why we all need to make sure we look after it. I spy Bowland, find your food game, hide your pom-pom chicks, ask the farmer, tractor and trailer ride, Bowlandscapes, camouflage head dress parade, and everything else that The Bowland Schools Project involved had all come to life for the kids in this farmer’s field in Bleasdale.
Clearly it’s made a lasting impression on these kids as little Jessica was behind one of the pairs of binoculars trained on those Lapwing chicks in the hide that day. Now a year on, here we were sat round the kitchen table with granny regaling us with tales of how Lapwings used to be everywhere and how daddy was now trying to help tempt them back to his fields. It’s over to Jessica now to help him get it right!
All Lapwing chicks were released unharmed! © Carol Bamber, RSPB.
And ok, I lied about her ignoring the computer, she did end up on it but here’s the page she went straight to, without any prompting from me I add!