Youngsters race to record wildlife in popular bird-spotting challenge

© Rex Waygood

Last month, groups from across the New Forest and further afield descended on Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve to compete in the Bird Trail 2019.

Dozens of young people from across the local area did battle in the popular Bird Trail challenge – a joint event between Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Hampshire Ornithological Society.

Together the organisations held a fantastic day out for over 70 young wildlife enthusiasts. Teams from various Scout, Wildlife Trust and RSPB groups, met at the Wildlife Trust’s Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve near Ringwood where they raced to record as many different bird species as possible.

Each team and their adult leader followed a trail of bird watching and activity stations around the nature reserve, including bird hides, pond and river dipping, owl pellet dissection, moth trap investigation and a bird ringing demonstration.

It was a close-run contest with only five sightings separating the top three teams. The winners, who spotted 44 bird species, were Blashford Lakes’ very own Young Naturalists Group (pictured below). Second place were 1st Fordingbridge Scout Group, and third were 3rd Ringwood Scout Group.

The top teams won various wildlife-themed prizes including a bird-watching boat trip, binoculars, tickets to a local bird of prey centre, ID guides and bird feeders provided by the event sponsors: In Focus, Birds of Poole Harbour, Cameron Bespolka Trust, Hampshire Swifts, Pearsons, Nutbags, and Libertys Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre.

Bird Trail 2019 Winners © Rex Waygood

Bird Trail 2019 Winners © Rex Waygood

All participants received an embroidered camp blanket badge and a certificate personally signed by well-known naturalist and television presenter Chris Packham, president of Hampshire Ornithological Society and a long-term supporter of the Bird Trail.

Jim Day, education officer for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: ‘All in all the day was a real treat for wildlife enthusiasts and an opportunity for the Wildlife Trust and Hampshire Ornithological Society to inspire the next generation of conservationists and bird watchers.

‘Our thanks go to our sponsors and partners for making this special event possible. In particular, we are grateful to all of the volunteers who gave their time to help on the day and, of course, to all of the young people who took part. We look forward to next year’s challenge’.

To read more about the day, please visit the Blashford Lakes blog.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Bournemouth Water and Wessex Water.