News archive

September 2017

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Children in Liverpool want to spend more time outside in nature

Children in Liverpool want to spend more time outside in nature

. In the last two years, the RSPB and Aldi have helped over 240,000 children in the UK to take their first steps on their own wild adventure, with more than four in five 6-11 year olds saying they want to spend more time outside exploring the natural world.

More than 5,000 children in Liverpool have taken part in RSPB nature experience sessions at school.

Past research has shown that the amount of time and experience British children have with nature is declining, with only one in five having a 'healthy' connection to nature.

The RSPB is challenging children and their families to get outside and uncover the wild wonders of autumn.
Children in Liverpool and the rest of the UK want to turn off the TV, put down their devices and spend more time outside exploring nature, a new research survey by the RSPB has revealed.

The RSPB's Connecting Children with Nature partnership - a £2m project funded by discount supermarket Aldi - which has over the past two years helped over 240,000 children take their first steps on their own wild adventure, found that 85% of children who took part wanted to spend more time outside in nature.

The project survey, which quizzed over 1000 school children and teachers about their nature experience session with the RSPB, revealed that 86% of pupils learnt something new about nature that they didn't know before, while the overwhelming majority of teachers agreed that taking part in lessons outdoors increased children's confidence.
In recent years, a number of studies have pointed to the amount of time British children are spending outside exploring nature is on the decline. To encourage more children and their families to swap the sofa for the great outdoors the RSPB launched the Connecting Children with Nature partnership, which has to date seen children across Britain spend more than 360,000 hours outside on their own nature adventure.

To allow children to explore the outdoors, learn new skills and try something different like their parents and grandparents did, the partnership funded a number of activities. Since its launch, a schools' outreach programme has seen RSPB-trained staff and volunteers deliver free, 90-minute nature experience sessions to more than 1000 schools in 17 cities across England, Wales and Scotland. In Liverpool 5,290 school children have benefited from these sessions. These give pupils the opportunity to swap the classroom for the great outdoors to see how they can help wildlife in their school grounds.

To help children and their families to embark on their own wild adventure away from the classroom, the partnership also launched the Wild Challenge this Easter. Consisting of 24 activities from minibeast safaris and rock pooling to creating a hedgehog café and planting for wildlife, the challenge allows families to go on their own wild adventure taking them from their own back garden to exploring towns, cities, woodlands and even the coast. So far, 44,000 Wild Challenge actions have been taken in gardens and communities.

Emma Reed, RSPB Education, Families and Youth Manager for Northern England, said: "Children will always remember their first discoveries when out getting wild in nature. From the thrill of finding a blitz of bugs under a rock to spotting a family of starlings furiously flying around in search of their next meal.

"The crisp sunny days, amazing natural colours and returning wildlife make autumn a great time to get outside and discover the wild wonders. We know from past research that children aren't spending the same amount of time in nature as their parents and grandparent did, and this is something we want to change. With the positive impact nature has on children's learning, physical health and emotional wellbeing it is more important than ever that we are helping young people in Liverpool to experience, learn and value the natural world. Nature is an adventure waiting to be had, so get out, get busy and get wild."

Oliver King, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK, said: "Aldi is proud to partner with the RSPB to bring essential opportunities to young people in their local environment. I joined a Giving Nature a Home session at a local school and witnessed the passion of the RSPB staff and volunteers in helping the children gain confidence from the outdoor experience.

"It's rewarding to see the scale of what we've achieved together and the vital contribution the partnership has made in helping so many young people learn more, value and experience the wonders of nature."

By 2018, over half-a-million children will have benefited from the Connecting Children with Nature partnership. With autumn being one of the most exciting times of the year for nature, the RSPB is encouraging children, parents and grandparents in Liverpool to get outside and under some wild wonders, including going on a fungi foray, building a hedgehog café or investigating the leaves and seeds that have started to fall from the trees.
For some ideas on exciting activities to do outdoors or to start your own Wild Challenge adventure with your family, visit
www.rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bearded tit - the bird that sucks seeds

Bearded tit - the bird that sucks seeds

Visitors invited to witness unusual feeding habits of rare reedbed resident at RSPB Leighton Moss

As autumn gets underway, our wildlife faces many challenges. At RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve, one of the more elusive reedbed residents has to change its diet completely in order to survive the long, cold winter. The bird in question is the strikingly beautiful and rather comically named bearded tit, and RSPB staff are inviting visitors to come to try and spot it.

The Silverdale reserve is home to a large number of bearded tits who, like many other birds, spend the summer months feasting on insects. However, to avoid having to migrate south in winter as birds such as swallows and warblers do, the bearded tits change their diet to reed seeds in winter. The seeds are extremely tough so the birds use a nifty trick to make the seeds easy to digest - they eat grit. And the RSPB has come up with an ingenious way to help the hungry birds.

Richard Miller, Warden at RSPB Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve, said: "Bearded tits don't have teeth, and their bills aren't built to crack open the tough shells, so they also have to eat grit which grinds the hard seeds into a digestible pulp. Here at Leighton Moss, we put the grit out on trays so the birds can easily access what they need."

This results in a great opportunity for visitors to the reserve to see bearded tits up close. As any bird watcher knows, seeing a bearded tit in the wild can be extremely difficult and is always a thrill. October is the main month for the birds to come down to the grit trays, as this is when they make the transition from eating insects to eating reed seed.

Richard added: "Bearded tits are rare birds and they need reedbed to survive in and make their home. Although they are here all year round, at this time of year there is a much better chance of seeing them. We put a lot of hard work into making Leighton Moss the perfect home for bearded tits, so it is a brilliant reward when people get to watch them up close."

Visitors can look for these rare birds at Leighton Moss any day, but there is also a special 'Brilliant bearded tits' guided walk every Tuesday in October, from 9.30-11.30am. The cost is £7 per adult (£5.50 for RSPB members). Call the visitor centre on 01524 701601 to book your place. Pre booking is essential as places are strictly limited.

For more information on other wildlife and events at Leighton Moss, visit www.rspb.org.uk/leightonmoss.