On Thursday 10th October we visited the RSPB Skinflats reserve near Falkirk with 36 P7 pupils from Craigentinny Primary School. Reserve Warden Allison and volunteers Grant and Nicola hosted us for a great session exploring the different habitats found on the site and the birds and animals that call it home.
First off, we looked at globes and maps to find out where Skinflats is on the Forth in relation to Edinburgh and Stirling. It’s a perfect place for birds with extensive mudflats, which are recently improved thanks to managed realignment on the site (see here for more detail). We then split into groups to do some fun activities: bug hunting with colourful nets, nature detectives exploring for signs of animals such as shelters and dens, nibbled nuts and conkers and tracks and prints (some say of dinosaurs, but I’m not sure!) and finally bird watching.Bird watching was very popular with the students and we were very impressed to see some students had brought along binoculars with them. We watched different types of gulls, a heron and other small wading birds like Oystercatcher, Greenshank and Redshank. We were also lucky enough to see and hear lots of large groups of geese who are currently arriving to spend the winter with us. Geese who will overwinter with us include Canada geese, Barnacle geese and Pink-footed geese who have travelled all the way from Iceland!
In the afternoon, we looked at how different types of birds co-exist on the mudflats; their beaks adapted to find and eat different prey in the mud. We had a go at using different length implements to find food in some mock mud – we now know that birds such as Curlew with their long beaks are better at finding food in deep mud, and birds with shorter beaks like Dunlin need food closer to the surface.
Many thanks to the pupils for behaving so well and being so enthusiastic! And special thanks to RSPB staff for having us for a great day outside the classroom!