Remote experiences of Big Schools' Birdwatch: Fortrose Academy Scottish Highlands

"During Lockdown in January to March 2021 our Science and English Departments got together to give our First and Second Year pupils a challenge that would help them make the most of our fantastic natural environment and wildlife, develop their skills of observation, data-collection and descriptive writing while also taking part in a huge Citizen Science Project. We wanted them to feel part of something that connected them to ordinary people all over the country, also stuck at home, looking out of windows or taking short local walks.  Here are some extracts from their Descriptive Essays which were the result of several weeks of online lessons and a whole bunch of bird food!"  Ms Westwood, English Department

(Images used were created by students of Fortrose Academy)

Below are extracts from some of the Descriptive Essays. To read a fully essay by Ava Loughton click here.

"I would love to do one of these bird watches again because it allowed me to get in touch with nature herself. I miss it sometimes because I'm always wrapped up on my phone."  Lexie MacKenzie S1

"The last bird I saw from my birdwatch was by far the most memorable.  Because of its very distinct appearance I was able to identify it quite easily as a greenfinch.  It's almost psychedelic yellow feathers were absolutely mesmerizing to look at and as it ate from the swinging bird feeder I was blown away by the intricate little details to it.  The edge of its slender wings is lined with the same yellow and the rest of the wing varies from a soft grey to almost black."  Roisin Beattie S2

"The last bird I saw from my birdwatch was by far the most memorable. Because of its very distinct appearance, I was able to identify it quite easily as a greenfinch.  It's almost psychedelic yellow feathers were absolutely mesmerizing to look at and as it ate from the swinging bird feeder I was blown away by the intricate little details to it.  The edge of its slender wings is lined with the same yellow and the rest of the wing varies from a soft grey to almost black."  Roisin Beattie S2

"My favourite bird I saw was definitely either the blue tit because I love the different colours like the sky light blue and bright custard yellow or the long tailed tit because it is small, fluffy and fast. We loved giving each of the birds different characters and there was one robin that loathed how the other birds were eating all the seeds so my mum called him bad-boy-robin because he kept trying to scare the other birds off." Abbie Bathgate S1

 "I decided to sit quietly outside my back door, not far from the bird feeders. Sitting very quietly made me focus on the sounds I could hear. Before I saw any birds, I could hear them chirping and singing. To begin with they all sounded the same but I quickly realised that they had completely different sounds and they began to sound like an orchestra of flutes and whistles. First to appear was a black bird with a black glossy coat like a shiny piece of coal, with a bright golden beak. I knew this was the male black bird as we often see them in the garden hopping over the grass. He quickly retreated to the safety of the bushes. Next came the familiar robin with his orangy/red breast. He wasn’t shy and sat on the fence post watching me as if he was daring me to move first. Suddenly a few small birds flew into the trees close to where I was sitting. They were camouflaged against the branches and twigs only making themselves noticeable when they moved. One flew down gripping the bird feeder with its small claws as it flapped its tiny wings frantically whilst it tried to get some seeds. It had a blue patch on its head like a blue cap."   Stewart Grant S1

"My birdwatch took place on a frosty winter’s morning. It was the 31st of January, my brother's tenth birthday. Even though it was only 10am, I was ready for my lunch as he had awoken me so early, jumping crazily through the house like a bouncy ball. Before we started I made myself a nice, warm hot chocolate to enjoy during the birdwatch. The evening before I had helped my dad fill the bird feeders with a variety of different seeds and nuts. My mum had printed off an information sheet for me so I could easily identify each particular species of bird, which proved to be very useful. Birdwatching is not something I had done consciously before, but it surprised me how many birds appeared before my eyes. I decided that the garden was too cold that day so I sat in the slightly warmer conservatory which also gave me a brilliant view without disturbing the birds….The previous day we had gone to a shop to get some seeds for the birds. We had three feeders so we decided to buy one big bag so we still have some to refill them later in the year. I have learnt whilst doing this task that you don't have to travel far to have a nice day, you just have to shut off from the world and look outside and listen. The birdwatch was probably the most peaceful day of home school work I've ever had. Just thinking about all the sounds and sights was amazing and I would like to do birdwatching sometime again soon."  Ryan MacKenzie S1

"On Sunday 31st of January this year I took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. I got involved through my school, more specifically the Science and English departments, who linked it to their lessons.
I recorded results from my own garden, whilst sitting comfortably in a squishy armchair with snacks. It wasn’t all relaxation  though, as it required some preparation first, due to us not having a bird table or feeders. It’s not that we don’t love a bit of wildlife, it’s just that our fierce cat Tilly is quite the hunter. My sisters and I made bird feeders out of jars, tubs and strung together fat balls. All the bird food was hung high on our failure of a pear tree. So our miniature panther didn’t tear apart any of the birds who were trying to fill their empty, starving stomachs, and play with their lifeless corpses."   Heather MacLeod S2 

"By doing this birdwatch I learned that birds are really pretty and intelligent animals. This is because they make tunes to communicate with each other and are all different colours/ sizes. I would definitely do a birdwatch again but next time I'm going to do it with my little brother." Eva Ryan S2

Anonymous