IT IS not every day dozens of children get a chance to go on a hunt for birds with a television star.
But Chris Packham returned to Hampshire with the popular nature-spotting challenge Birdtrail, thanks to the support of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Hampshire Ornithological Society.
Together the organisations held a fantastic day out for eight teams of young wildlife enthusiasts from across the area, who raced to record as many different bird species as possible at Blashford Lakes nature reserve.
Groups of children with their adult leader followed a trail of bird watching and activity stations around the nature reserve, including bird hides, pond dipping, owl pellet dissection, tree identification, bird ringing demonstration and moth trap investigation.
More than 70 children, from as young as six through to 18 year olds from Wildlife Trust and RSPB groups, Beavers and schools, took part.
The winners, who spotted more than 50 bird species, were Stanley’s Own Beaver Scout Colony.
Second place were Titchfield Haven Wildlife Explorer group, and third were Havant Wildlife Watch group.
It was a close-run affair, with only 10 sightings separating the teams.
All participants received a special woven badge and signed certificate from Chris, a supporter of Birdtrail for many years.
As well as the chance to meet the star naturalist himself, the top three teams won various wildlife-themed prizes, including binoculars, mini-beast hotels, bird houses and bird feeders provided by the event sponsors, Hampshire Swifts, Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group, Pearsons, In Focus, Nutbags, and Libertys Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre who attended the Birdtrail with a static bird of prey display.
Dawn O’Malley, education development officer at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: ‘We’re thrilled to have been able to bring back the New Forest Birdtrail event, to great success.
‘Our thanks go to the brilliant Chris Packham and all our sponsors for making this wildlife adventure happen.
‘We look forward to the 2017 event being bigger and better.’ Go to hiwwt.org.uk.