Last week myself and Cain (Holywell Birder) were helping out at Cramlington Learning Village (or community high school, like it was when I was a student there).
We were offering our limited knowledge to a year 9 class of 26 students, the majority of which seemed to enjoy the week.
The aim of the week was for the students to produce a brochure showing what wildlife is on offer around Cramlington as part of science investigations week.
The brochure was also to include their own photos, drawings and observations from the sights we visited.
On the Monday we went around the school grounds in small groups to see what was about. The strip of trees bordering the railway line was the sight of most of the activity. A family party of Whitethroats and a pair of Bullfinch were the highlights on the bird front whilst a set of fox tracks in the mud were interesting.
With no transport during the week we were limited to visiting local sights by foot so it was a good job the weather was kind to us.
On Tuesday we visited Beacon Lane and Arcot Pond. Although there was nothing out of the ordinary at Arcot, the Common Tern preformed well, diving for fish over the pond. Fighting Grey Herons, Tadpoles with legs and Fresh Water Mussels also seemed to capture the imagination.
On Wednesday we walked from the school, past the fields with the giant spoon in near East Cramlington and ended up on the border of Seghill.
Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Whitethroat were all showing well in the hedgerows around the tracks. With field after field of Wheat and Barley I though I might hear a Quail but had no luck.
During the rest of the week we helped out with the content of the brochure. It was amazing to see a class that couldn’t name a Blackbird at the beginning of the week, manage to pick out key features of a Yellowhammer by the end. Also we went down to the workshop to offer advice to another class who were spending their week making bird tables, boxes and feeders.
As well as this they were helping to make the worlds largest nest box, a record currently held by Heighley Gate Garden Centre.
By the end of the week they had beaten the record and will soon be in the Guinness Book of records!
I wish something like this existed at the high school when I was there!