The problem with bird watching is that you cannot always see them. Last Saturday The Wild Watch taught us to use our ears instead, with a range of different sound-based activities for children.
A violin played us the tunes of owls, wood pigeons, doves , cuckoos and warblers, and we drew the pattern of the notes. We sang our own versions of birdsong in a choir and then took what we had learned into the outside world.
A soundscape opened up for us whilst sitting in the churchyard at St. Cuthbert's, when we discovered how much birds life is just outside our field of vision. The children drew pictures of what they heard: a dot in the middle to represent themselves; note shapes, dots or pictures for the different bird songs.
The event, which included a specially developed app to train people to recognize birdsong, is part of a wider initiative. The aim is to train the next generation of naturalists to monitor and protect local wildlife.
Given the addictive nature of tablet based technology, I expected this to be the most popular activity of the morning. But the popularity of apps may well be a result of having nothing better to do.
When I asked the children which was their favourite part of the morning, the answer was: "Being outside, surrounded by a million birds." Inspiration, then, is simpler than we think!
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