The Wings Over the Brecks project connected local communities, school groups and visitors to the Brecks to some of the distinct and special bird species and their habitats. The primary way that this was achieved was by installing nest cameras in the forest and out on the heath to capture never seen before footage of these rare species, allowing a sneaky peek into their lives. Goshawk, Hobby, Stone Curlew, Nightjar and Lapwing were all caught on camera with the first four installed on nests. Several kms of cable were laid over the forest and heath to make this possible, and specialist contractors were engaged to fix cameras high in the trees for the hobby and goshawks. The real heroes though were the hardworking volunteers who spent many hours carefully searching for nest sites in collaboration with the professional project team. A launch event was held on 25th May 2015 to get the project underway, with 1520 people attending,, smashing the target of 500.
RSPB recruited and trained 23 volunteers, 12 of whom became regular volunteers for the project. Their time was spent at High Lodge, interpreting the nest camera footage to visitors to the site. Initially this was done by the TV screens themselves but was changed to a gazebo set up outside, with bespoke Wings Over the Brecks materials, which allowed for additional activities to promote the project. Several of these volunteers enjoyed their work so much they have continued to volunteer with the RSPB outside of this project.
10 specific outreach events took place over the course of the project, visiting various locations across the BNG project area. Over 1000 people were actively engaged at these events which ranged from guided walks, bird spotting days and craft activities. The project team also attended a further 15 events where they promoted the project alongside other promotional activities. A self-guided ‘roaming display’ was also created for the project, consisting of interpretation material surrounding a computer displaying an archive of nest camera footage, along with lot of facts about the birds of the Brecks. This toured around 4 locations in the project area and was very well received, with host locations sad to see it go!
The FC team installed a self-guided trail at High lodge, themed around the birds of the Brecks called ‘The Magic of the Brecks’. A ‘ranger in a bag’ pack is available for school groups to collect, including extra info and items like binoculars to look out for the birds themselves. An accompanying education pack was also sent to all local schools and is available online. https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/MagicoftheBrecksLessonPlan.pdf/$FILE/MagicoftheBrecksLessonPlan.pdf
This project was delivered through the partnership of the Forestry Commission, RSPB, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the BTO.