AFON- Getting young people outdoors

AFON- Getting young people outdoors

Hi all, been very busy with mock exams(one week to go) but just before the exam I headed down to Poole Harbour to be part of a project organised by AFON(a focus on nature) which got primary school kids out on a bird watching boat trip for the day. We arrived on the Sunday,earlier than expected, and dropped our bags off at the very nice antelope hotel, and headed to Arne nature reserve(mainly in search of the spoon bills). I had checked the day before to see if they were still about but there was not any news of them but when we arrived at the hide we were greeted by 16 adult spoonbills, first ever for me. Although they were too far away for good pictures I enjoyed watching their behavior,mainly sleeping, through my binoculars.Heading back to the car park me and Danielle stopped off at the visitor centre to photograph the birds at the feeding station, it was a good place to practice and enjoyed many a close view.

When we arrived back at the hotel we meet up with Charlie Sams and Abbie Barnes, both extraordinarily nice people, and spent the time chatting away about photography and also getting into the business of wildlife photography and/or film-making, I have to admit I really enjoyed talking to them both and it was nice to be able to talk to someone around my age about these topics 🙂 After dinner me and Charlie devoured a “Fairground attraction”, the biggest desert I have ever seen, after that it was time to call it a night because we had a long day ahead of us.

Waking up, I found that the weather had taken a turn for the better, downstairs we all meet another awesome team member Thea Powell, and when we all meet Lucy McRobert, Organizer(a very good one too),the sea was super flat and there was mist rising off the water, we couldn’t have planned it any better. On boarding we only have a short amount of time before the kids arrived, once set up we headed upstairs to anticipate the kids arrival. It didn’t take long and they were all on-board, kitted out with their binoculars the ascended onto top-deck. It was great to see their excitement and the soon started spotting birds before we did and I was amazed at how much they already knew, pointing out red-breasted mergansers and cormorants left right and center.

When we circled a certain patch of water Paul,our guide for the day, sent the kids downstairs for a snack and refuel, he had timed it perfectly because we were passing into the hard core birding area, and no sooner had the kids gone down we spotted a Great Northern diver which dived just as we spotted it, but then it appeared right next to the boat enabling great photo opportunities and was a great looking individual as well. Along the way back we saw many mergansers and one or two seals on the way back which really got the kids going.

Arriving back at the quay we all made arrangement to meet back at the school for some activities with the kids. When we did arrive we got all the activities sorted and then the fun really did begin.The kids loved creating their own birds and I have too say that some of them were pretty cool, we had vampire bird to a girly goose, the surprises were none stop. It seems the kids defiantly learnt a lot and they really enjoyed themselves. They then had an assembly form the awesome Steven Moss with the clips of Bill Oddie getting the kids really inspired and the to finish it off a tense clip of a killer whale hunting a seal. Finally the best drawings were given prizes and then the kids went home, mission accomplished !!!

Then after Paul took us all down to a secret part of the Arne reserve to watch for marsh harriers coming into roost, I think we saw one and the location was stunning.  I must thank Lucy for organizing such a brilliant trip and I hope to work with her again on another project. And I want to say how how much I enjoyed spending time with all of the others involved, thanks for making it such a great trip filled with many memories 😉

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