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Big Garden Birdwatch at Fort Burgoyne

Big Garden Birdwatch at Fort Burgoyne

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch was coming up the weekend after our fortnightly visit to Fort Burgoyne. So a morning of light drizzle didn't dampen our spirits as we got ready to help our feathered friends.

We welcomed new families to our group, and introduced them to a few areas around this historic site.

The Land Trust acquired the site in 2014. As they say - 

'Dating back to the 1860s, the Fort was built to protect Dover Castle and with its historical importance, imposing façade and abundant space, it is an amazing opportunity waiting to be unlocked.'

Unsurprisingly, our main theme of the day was Birds.

We're also joining in with botanist and author Leif Bersweden's fun Twitter activity #couchto10mosses, so we searched the walls of the Fort.

They and fallen wood around the site are covered in many different mosses. 

We found our first Moss of the Week - the Wall Screw-Moss. Now we're looking forward to learning more about mosses in the forthcoming sessions.

Back indoors, we held the session in the Officers' Mess, where some of the younger participants made a beeline for the Nature Table. This week it was covered with all manner of bird-related finds. including skulls, wings, feathers, nests and reference books.

Feeders, nests & birds on sticks

Soon there was a hive of activity making bird feeders, both to take home - to join the weekend's 44th citizen birdwatch survey - and to hang around the Fort's grounds. 

Our Birders also created flapping birds on sticks, as well as making nests. It's not as easy as the birds make it look, so one family foraged outside like a bird to find thinner and more malleable twigs to use for their base.

There is such a lot of natural material to choose from - moss, fur, horse hair, pinecones, straw ...

After a hot drink, we headed off to explore the site to begin our bird count. We heard the sweet 'tea-cher, tea-cher' song of a great tit in the distance and the cawing of the crows

Did you know the great tit has seventy varieties of song? You can hear them here

We counted jackdaws, crows, pigeons, magpies and one of our group spotted some starlings. They are much easier to spot at this time of year without the cover of leaves in the trees. One of our eagle-eyed participants found a ladybird too.

It's so rewarding to see how much more interest and enthusiasm our Birders showed spotting birds after learning more about them.

Would you like to learn more about trees in winter? Then join our next session at Fort Burgoyne on Thursday 9 February.

Thanks as ever to our friends and supporters the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership and the Land Trust.

Wild with Wheels funding is provided through the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme from Defra and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, who are supporting access to nature in Kent.

📸 image credit @mobility_in_the_wild

#bigbirdwatch #birdtheme
#nestbuilding #birdfeeders
#inclusionmatters #feathers #skulls #foraging


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Please take a look at our FAQ's section for all details on the walks, accessibility and support that Wild With Wheels offers.

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