2014-03-24   facebook twitter rss

Bird Expert Comes Home to Roost to Lead Identification Course

A new four-day course being run by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership’s WildWatch project is aiming to help people learn more about the abundant birdlife in the area.

With its wisps of snipe, deserts of lapwing, herds of curlew and charms of finch, the North Pennines AONB is one of the best outdoor classrooms in England in which to identify different species and learn more about their habitat and behaviour.



The course, which is made up of four workshops that take place in April, May, June and November, throughout the AONB, includes both indoor and outdoor sessions to give people a wide understanding of the some of the most iconic birds in the landscape from raptors and woodland birds through to waders and wildfowl.

WildWatch is a three-year project funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and has been highly successful in getting residents and visitors mapping the wildlife that is hopping, buzzing, growing and flying all over the area.

So far more than 14,700 records have been submitted and three independent wildlife groups have been set up. The Birds of the North Pennines course is another chance for people to get closer to nature on their own patch.

Sam Finn, WildWatch Project Co-ordinator with the AONB Partnership, said: “The North Pennines AONB Partnership is delighted that so many people have got involved with WildWatch North Pennines and in its third year we wanted to include some courses that took wildlife identification to the next level.

“The course is spread out over the year in a bid to get people seeing as many different species as possible. It will be one of our last courses so we’d love to get as many people along to learn from the best.”

The ‘best’ that Sam is referring to is Keith Bowey, who has worked in nature conservation and the field of ecology for over 30 years. His ornithological work has taken him all over the world but he will be staying on home turf to lead this course.

Sam said: “Keith has designed this programme for us to not only celebrate the variety of birds that inhabit and visit the North Pennines but to learn in a practical and exciting way across the year.”

Each day-long workshop will examine topics such as ‘what is a bird?’, bird topography and identification and the study of a particular group of birds that is relevant to the field study session.

Possible locations for the outdoor sessions include taking a look at the upland waders of Cow Green Reservoir in Upper Teesdale, early birdsong in ancient woodland of Derwent Grange or a walk along the East Allen to look for dipper, grey wagtail, common sandpiper and goosander.

Keith said: “We’ll be making some really memorable field trips to help participants learn more about the North Pennines, its habitats and its very special birdlife. I’ve never run a course quite like this that spans the seasons and involves so many diverse settings from ancient woodland to moor and wetland. I am sure we will see some fantastic bird displays and spot a few rare raptors and firm favourites along the way.”

The courses will be taking place at Sinderhope on Saturday, April 12; Edmundbyers on Saturday, May 10; Saturday, June 14 at Bowlees in Middleton-in-Teesdale and finally at Talkin Tarn in Brampton on Saturday, November 8.

The course is offered at only £120, with a £20 discount for people who are actively registered with the Partnership’s WildWatch North Pennines project.

North Pennines

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