Bird Camp England 2023

Bird Camp England 2023

11 Jul 2023

Bird Camp England 2023 by Alicia Hayden

BTO Youth was joined by 15 young wildlife enthusiasts between the ages of 12 and 17 at the end of June, for a weekend of learning and birding at BTO’s Bird Camp England 2023. 

The event took place at the Field Studies Council site of Flatford Mill in Suffolk, with dedicated on-site Youth Volunteers and birding experts leading activities and sessions over the weekend. 

The bird ringing demonstration. Alicia Hayden

On the first evening, campers practised using bat detectors to find and identify Noctule and Soprano Pipistrelle bats nearby the site.

After a bright and early start the following morning, the campers headed off to a bird ringing demo at Flatford Mill with licensed ringers Cyril and Lauren. During the session, a lot of Great Tit chicks, as well as a Treecreeper, were ringed! Campers were even able to browse historical ringing photos from the site, dating from the 1970s onwards.

After the ringing, campers journeyed to Wrabness Nature Reserve for some survey activities, including a Bioblitz and territory mapping. They were expertly guided by Tom, who was at Bird Camp England in 2022 and who is local to Wrabness. He helped the group spot some Turtle Doves, which will certainly be a sighting to remember!

The mindfulness session, led by BTO’s Chris Marais. Alicia Hayden

After this, the group did a session on Garden BirdWatch in the RSPB Flatford Wildlife Garden and learned about Pollinator Monitoring Scheme FIT counts, before conducting one themselves in a nearby field. 

BTO Youth staff member Chris also led a mindfulness session around the importance of mental health and being present, wrapping it up with a calming meditation.

Post-dinner, the campers took part in a songbird ID session, led by one of our amazing camp volunteers and Youth Representatives, Carla. This was followed up by a night owl walk with Tom and his dad Alex, and the group was treated to fantastic sightings of Barn Owls. Following all of that excitement, it was time for bed and rest in preparation for the final day. 

The boat trip around Harwich Harbour. Alicia Hayden

The last day of camp was as action-packed as the rest, with campers looking through the moth trap expertly set up by our camp volunteer, Youth Representative and Regional Ambassador Maria. They discovered Willow Beauty, Dwarf Cream Wave, and Smoky Wainscot moths, to name just a few!

It was then en route to Harwich Harbour for a boat trip around the coastline. There were sightings of multiple Common Seal harems, endless Oystercatchers, Barnacle Geese, and three species of tern (Common, Little and Sandwich!) as well as a Marsh Harrier.

To wrap up the weekend, campers prepared for their art exhibition to share with family and friends, complete with an extensive bird list, group habitat drawings and paintings, and survey findings.

Bird Camps are made possible thanks to the support of the Cameron Bespolka Trust.

Bird Camp was a memorable experience for all, with moments shared with like-minded young people.

We’re off on our final Bird Camp for this year in Northern Ireland – keep an eye on the BTO Youth website for a post-camp update!

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