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RSPB

“That was the best day ever!”

"I couldn’t believe the amount of litter that had been washed up on the estuary. It was sad to see how much of a negative impact people can have on such a wild place. It felt great to be part of a group of people helping to clean it up. We saw some amazing wildlife on the day too including curlew and garden orbspiders. I’ll definitely be getting involved in more clean-up projects in this area in the future!"

Grants awarded - £500 (Skye) £500 (Wester Ross), £920 (Bogside), £500 (Little Tern Project)

Wester Ross, Sutherland and Skye

The RSPB’s project brought together specialists from local and national organisations to deliver two days of informative, fun activities for children.  Each pupil took part in four out of the eight workshops run throughout the day, covering a variety of topics, including: marine mammals and other sea life; sea eagles, seabirds and the science used to study them; the effects of pollution; how we use the sea; traditional fishing skills; and how our seas influence our climate as well as how they have inspired art, stories and song.  Through attending the event pupils gained an insight into the marine ecosystem, and its effects on people as well as the impacts people have on the ecosystem.  

The education days were run by a partnership led by the RSPB and the Wester Ross Environment Network, with the Marine Conservation Society, Wester Ross Fisheries Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and The National Trust for Scotland, along with other specialists brought in for their expertise.

Bogside

Bogside Estuary is within The Garnock Valley Futurescape - part of RSPB's landscape conservation programme. The project aims to work with local partners, landowners and communities in and around the Garnock Valley and Irvine, to make this region an even better place for wildlife.

RSPB used funds from Sea-Changers to run a community cleanup around Bogside racecourse, part of Bogside Estuary Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), to improve this intertidal habitat for the wintering and breeding shore birds, for which it is so important

They also ran two free wildlife workshops at nearby Irvine Harbour to inspire people about the area's importance for coastal wildlife. These focused on the incredible invertebrate fauna of Ayrshire’s important dune systems and gave participants opportunity to learn about the different insects that live in this rich habitat and the methods that can be used to survey them.

Little Tern Project at Chesil Beach

Little terns are one of the rarest and most threatened seabirds in the UK. Throughout the summer months, they breed upon Britain’s coastal scrapes and pebbly shores. However, habitat loss, predation and coastal recreation have resulted in catastrophic species declines. Chesil Beach in Dorset is one of the few places in the UK where people can see the little tern. Having experienced species losses of up to 95%, the RSPB has been working in partnership to protect the area’s little tern population.

The project involves the erection of an exclusion fence, crucially preventing fox access. This remains under the 24-hour watch of our volunteer and warden team.  Thanks to Sea Changers, the RSPB will be able to replace this exclusion fence which, due to salt spray, had reached the end of its operational life. Having this secured area will ensure the colony can breed safely, fostering conditions for fledgling success.

By increasing protection, the volunteer and warden team will be able to continue to educate the public about these birds, raising awareness for marine protection. Ensuring another successful breeding season and increasing knowledge will help us to achieve a future whereby little tern populations reach sustainable numbers.

Outcomes

Skye

Thirteen schools brought a total of 281 pupils to the events - this represents over 80% of primary schools on Skye. 

All workshops were fully subscribed in advance and well received at the event. The diversity of the programme in terms of content and method of delivery made the event extremely relevant and attractive as part of the new Curriculum for Excellence.  Teachers also found the programme fascinating and informative.

Wester Ross

The response from local schools was even higher than expected with a total of 470 pupils from 13 schools attending. In Ullapool and Gairloch, this represented 98% pupils in the catchment. In addition to 14 workshop leaders, 13 volunteers assisted with activities during the three days.  The popularity of the events was such that 3 schools from the neighbouring district of Sutherland also chose to attend.

Bogside

The importance of Bogside Flats SSSI and surrounding coastal dune habitats was explored and discussed in the workshops and during the clean up.  

17 volunteers were involved and two skips of rubbish were collected improving this key site for migrant and wintering shore birds and wildfowl. The human impact on marine wildlife were included as topics in workshop and clean-up talks.

Two identification workshops were delivered, providing wildlife ID and monitoring training to a total of 23 people.

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