News Article29/04/2024

School Bird Boat Project Update

For the last 11 years, Birds of Poole Harbour have been taking out school children from the local area around Poole Harbour to show them the fantastic birds that it is so important for. We do this at no charge to the schools, pupils or parents, to get kids out into their local environment who may not otherwise have access. For many of these children it is their first time being on a boat, seeing Brownsea Island or, if they’re lucky, a White-tailed Eagle!

 

The project has been funded very generously by Lush Cosmetics for the last 3 years to allow for these fantastic educational trips to continue. This season we framed the trips as citizen science projects. We gave the children ID sheets so that they were able to survey and count all the birds seen, contributing to the data that protects Poole Harbour as an SPA (Special Protection Area). Throughout the trips we give each child their own pair of binoculars, many of which have been kindly donated by Opticron to bring them closer to the birds. This gives the children the opportunity to ask questions, learn a huge amount about topics like identification, bird migration, habitats, threats and bird ecology, while seeing great wildlife. We put together a full checklist after the boat of the birds seen and share resources with them to complete in the classroom to reinforce the topics. We’ve been sent poetry, posters and plenty of photos from the trips!

Some of the comments we’ve had from this year have included: ‘It was the best trip ever!’, ‘I loved it’, ‘our class birdwatching kit was in high demand for the Easter holiday’ and ‘the children were all extremely inspired’. These are fantastic to hear and below is one of the posters the kids have designed after the trips. Many of the schools have gone on to watch the Birds of Poole Harbour Osprey Webcams during school time, another great learning tool for the kids and fantastic for them to follow a local conservation success story.

We’ve been lucky enough on some of our trips to show the children species like Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Seals, Avocet, Osprey and lots more! The most exciting part is we are now able to show children growing up on the south coast, wild White-tailed Eagles. This is an enormous achievement from the Isle of Wight translocation project by the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England.  Shifting baseline syndrome is often talked about in terms of what we think should be in the wild in the UK, based on our personal experience and how we’ve grown up. Now, a new generation is growing up on the south coast with a baseline of knowing that White-tailed Eagles, not only fit in, but thrive in this landscape and this is a fantastic achievement!

We took out nearly 1000 children this year from 12 different schools in the Poole Harbour vicinity with all the trips very kindly being run by Greenslades Pleasure Boats from Poole Quay. We’re currently in the planning stages for next winter’s School Bird Boat Project and can’t wait to do it all again to continue inspiring the next generation of young conservationists!

~ The BoPH Team!

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