LOSYBC visits Astley Beavers

For our first presentation of 2014 we made a visit to the Astley Beavers pack in Astley Green.  We've been here before to see the 1st Astley Gillwell Cubs, but this was a much younger group aged between 6 and 8 years old, and so we had to adapt our material to suit them.

Martyn began the presentation with a cut down version of our usual introduction about who we are and why we're visiting groups of youngsters in Beavers, Cubs and schools. 

Then he showed a video of a Barn Owl and a Kestrel both hunting for food in the snow, to explain why we're interested in birds - this captivated the boys, especially when graceful creamy white Barn Owl flew silently over the snow listening for mice.

The boys held their collective breath when the Kestrel mobbed the Owl trying unsuccessfully to make it drop the mouse it had just caught.

A funny moment was when the Kestrel returned to its icy telegraph pole and skidded across the top and off the pole - fortunately it can fly and so didn't come to any harm! 

The video finished off with a shot of the Barn Owl swallowing the mouse whole and we all watched with wonder as its tail and back legs slowly disappeared down the Owl's throat - luckily we'd all had our tea beforehand!

After the video, Martyn went on to quickly describe four birds that can easily be seen in most gardens - the Blackbird, Blue Tit, Goldfinch and Collared Dove.  This was done with the aid of RSPB pictures projected on to a screen and the sound of each bird's song or call. Tony then covered another four birds - the Chaffinch, Great Tit, Magpie and Woodpigeon.  These birds were chosen because they can be seen on most days.

Making the Feeders
Following the presentation, Brian then described how a simple bird feeder can be made from a recycled plastic bottle, some garden wire and a fatball.  He gave very clear instructions in an excellent step by step demonstration of how to make the feeder, which everyone found easy to understand.  Two tables were then set up fro the boys to work on and the materials were handed out. 

With help from the Beavers leaders and the L.O.S. team, work then began on making the feeders.  There was the constant hum of enthusiastic chatter as the feeders took shape, and one by one the finished products started to appear.  All the boys were very pleased when they'd completed their own feeder and they started to think about where they could hang them up at home.

The Finished Product
After this practical activity the boys sat back down and Martyn told them about the Big Garden Birdwatch event at Pennington Flash this Sunday (26 January) where we will be taking guided birding walks around the hides.  A letter and bird checklist was handed out about the event for each of the boys to take home to show their parents. The L.O.S.Young Birders' Club website was briefly mentioned and displayed.

Finally we finished the session off with a question and answer quiz about the birds we had described earlier using some photographs - the Beavers were really keen show that they had remembered the information discussed earlier and most of the questions were answered correctly.  It was really good to see how enthusiastic and interested they were.

At the end of the session, the Beavers thanked us for coming and we all went home very happy. Hopefully we'll be coming back some time soon to do some field work looking for birds with binoculars.