Summer weather has finally reached the UK and the Leica Birding team spent a sun-kissed few days by the lake at Blenheim Palace earlier this August.
There was no time to put our feet up, however, as we were busy introducing families to the delights of birding in partnership with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at the BBC’s brand new Countryfile Live show. The UK national broadcaster’s flagship rural programme Countryfile attracts more than 7 million viewers every Sunday evening, offering both country and town-dwellers insights into rural life. It’s hardly surprising then that 125,000 people flocked to the first Countryfile Live event, held in the grounds of one of England’s most beautiful stately homes.
The show focused very much on giving visitors the chance to learn about nature in new ways and to experience it first hand where possible. There was a great showing from numerous wildlife and environmental charities and NGOs, including our friends WWT, whose Spoon-billed Sandpiper project we’re very proud to sponsor.
This summer, WWT has been running a ‘Nature Explorers’ passport scheme across its wetlands centres to encourage young people to take an interest in the natural world and species around them. For Countryfile Live they produced a special mini-passport, challenging children to complete three activities in order to complete the passport and win a coveted gold sticker. Two of these related to WWT’s latest project – Flight of the Swans – which seeks to highlight difficulties faced by Bewick swans during migration. The third was to spot some birds down at the lake with the help of the Leica team.
The large crowds and hot weather didn’t make for ideal birding conditions, but that did nothing to dim the expressions of joy as the young Nature Explorers glimpsed fearless groups of Coots and Canada Geese through our APO-Televid spotting scopes and range of Ultravid and Trinovid binoculars. For the luckiest few, there were also Little Egrets to be seen, along with Tufted Ducks, Mallards, and a fleeting glimpse of a Grey Wagtail.
For many (and not just for the kids) it was the first time they’d really looked at birds through top quality optics. Their reactions were satisfying and encouraging: the experience did more than help them appreciate the value of a good pair of binoculars – it helped them see more of the value and beauty of the birds themselves. We were very pleased by how many went away vowing to do a bit more birding in the future.
Naturally, not all who came to see us were nature novices – it was great to chat to more seasoned observers too. One who needed no introduction to birding was 13-year-old Mya Bambrick from Sussex. Better known to some as ‘Mya the Birder’, her wildlife blog, which features tales of birding, ringing and snippets of her wildlife photography, was highly commended in the BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards 2015.
It’s great to see someone so young with so much enthusiasm for wildlife, plus th talent to share her experiences. We’ll be hearing and seeing more from Mya on the Leica Birding Blog in the future as she puts a pair of Trinovid HD binoculars through their paces for us.
With any luck, being able to spot a few birds from the Leica booth at Blenheim will have inspired more young people like her (and some not so young) to take a closer, longer look at the birds around them!
For more information on WWT’s Spoon-billed Sandpiper project, visit: http://www.saving-spoon-billed-sandpiper.com
To find out more about WWT’s Nature Explorers scheme, see: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/experience/nature-explorers/
To read more about Mya Bambrick’s love of wildlife, go to: http://myathebirder.blogspot.co.uk