Ipswich gets ready for Springwatch

BUDDING Bill Oddies have been exploring the wildlife of Christchurch Park to fuel their enthusiasm for the Springwatch season.The children of Sidegate Primary School took part in a range of activities to awaken their senses and whet their appetite for birds and animals.

BUDDING Bill Oddies have been exploring the wildlife of Christchurch Park to fuel their enthusiasm for the Springwatch season.

The children of Sidegate Primary School took part in a range of activities to awaken their senses and whet their appetite for birds and animals.

It was the start of a two-day event organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Ipswich Borough Council to coincide with the BBC's Springwatch hosted by Mr Oddie and Kate Humble.

The television programmes, which begin on BBC2 on Monday at 8pm, aim to inspire people to enjoy and preserve the rich diversity of nature.

Members of the public are invited to take part in activities in Christchurch Park today.

The event, which is free, was being held at the Reg Driver visitor centre and around the park until 4pm.

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The park has a rich variety of birdlife, including Mandarin ducks, a group of the declining nuthatch, as well as Canada geese, finches and long-tailed Tits.

Yesterday the pupils spent time spotting birds on the Wilderness Pond, building human-sized bird nests, hunting insects and were encouraged to listen to the different sounds around them.

Chris Courtney, RSPB group leader in Ipswich, said: “It is engaging children in the wildlife in their local area by finding out what creatures live here.

“The RSPB is very keen to promote field teaching and getting kids out of the classroom. Computers have their place but you can't beat letting the children get their hands dirty.”

The children were also given a talk on British Owls in the visitor centre, where they learnt how the birds have to swallow their prey whole because they don't have teeth.

As a result of this process, the owls regurgitate the indigestible parts of the animals - including fur and the skull - into a pellet, which the kids dissected during a practical.

RSPB volunteer Hilary Kenny said: “It gives them a good idea about the wildlife, a respect for the park and a love for nature.

Sheralee Bloomfield, a learning support assistant at Sidegate Primary School, said: “They get a wider experience of what is in the park. Some children don't get that opportunity.”

For more information, visit www.bbc.co.uk/springwatch or www.rspb.org.uk.

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