A new outdoor trail at Cotehele, the National Trust property near Saltash in Cornwall, encourages children to notice nature by looking and listening for the different birds found on the estate.
The trail, Bird Bingo, identifies nine birds commonly sighted at Cotehele for children to seek and is filled with interesting facts about the birds and ways children can care for and encourage them at home.
‘Studies show again and again that we need to reach out and engage children with the natural world if we want them to care about it when they’re adults’ says Laura Jarman, Senior Visitor Experience Officer at Cotehele. ‘This trail is an easy gateway to noticing nature because some of the birds, like the robin or blackbird, are commonplace and very easily spotted, which we hope will spur the children on to discover some of the less common ones like the woodpecker and wagtail.’
Laura continues ‘We want children to fall in love with birds and want to care for them in their everyday life. Feeding birds is an easy way to help them survive, as long as it’s the right kind of food.’
Winter can be a testing time for birds, as they struggle to find food in frozen ground while insects are hibernating. The bird feeding stations at Cotehele Mill and Quay are busy in winter, with many common birds eating to maintain their fat reserves for the winter. Visitors can expect to see robins, house sparrows, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, dunnocks, blackbirds and woodpigeons – and might also spy goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, nuthatch and at least hear, if not see, the great spotted woodpecker.
The Cotehele rangers carry out routine monitoring of the bird populations at the site and have identified over 40 species here. Part of the woodland management work the team carry out in winter, before birds become more active as the weather warms, includes creating nesting sites for different bird and wildlife species.
Bird Bingo is running daily until March. Children can also join the Cotehele team to make bird feeders to take home during half term week, Saturday 15 February – Sunday 23 February in the Cider Barn in the Mother Orchard. This activity and the trail are free but admission charges apply (free for National Trust members).
For more details including opening times, visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele