More than 250 children across Norfolk and Suffolk will be learning about some of the region’s most iconic birds thanks to a creative new partnership.

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Primary school children around the region will be discovering the joys of the bittern, barn owl, bearded tit, marsh harrier and nightingale thanks to the Famous Five Birds project.

Throughout March and April the children will have the opportunity to enjoy an educational, poetry and craft day at their school as they are visited by a special creative team, while a separate workshop will teach 25 children all about the birds’ calls.

The project has come about thanks to a partnership between Waveney & Blyth Arts, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and Norfolk and Suffolk Biodiversity Partnerships, together with grants from Essex & Suffolk Water and the Broads Authority.

Jan Dungey, secretary at Waveney & Blyth Arts, said she was hoping they could inspire the children to find out more about wildlife.

She said: “We know the natural world is very inspiring. Birds have inspired all sorts of music and poetry, and we felt this was a good idea, another way to get them involved in tuning into the wildlife around them.”

She added: “We want, through the birds, to get children more interested in the natural world and what is around them, because if you get to know birds you get to know the habitats, where they live and what they do.

“This was part of our inspiration, to encourage children to go out and look for the birds and listen. We want to get them out and about, and hopefully visiting some local nature reserves as well as wild places.”

Ms Dungey decided it would be best to concentrate on five of the birds that were found locally, after being inspired by Minsmere nature reserve’s star species.

“If you a do a project on Waveney and Blyth birdlife and tried to look at all the birds it would be overwhelming, so we thought five seemed a reasonable starting point,” she said.

The school days will begin with bird expert Steve Piotrowski holding a workshop about the five birds, as he details what they look and sound like, where they live and why.

RSPB poet Matt Howard will help the children write poems about the birds, before Meg Amsden, from Nutmeg Puppet Company, helps them make shadow puppets.

A special one-day “Birdswing” session will also be led by ornithologist, composer and pianist Peter Cowdrey.

At these, Mr Cowdrey will use computer software to slow the speed of the birds’ calls so that the children can try and reproduce them vocally or instrumentally.

Music will continue to play an important part in the Famous Five Birds project when Nathan Williamson, local composer, pianist and artistic director of the Southwold Concert Series, composes a Famous Five Birds children’s song and piece of instrumental music to form part of an original soundtrack.

The soundtrack will be recorded to accompany a new Famous Five Birds shadow puppet show for children that Nutmeg Puppet Company will present in community venues throughout the Waveney and Blyth area in August and September.

Nicky Stainton, chairman of Waveney & Blyth Arts, said grants have helped the project come to fruition.

She said: “We are able to offer the workshops to schools thanks to grants from Essex & Suffolk Water’s Branch Out fund and the Broads Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund. Without these funds these workshops would simply be too expensive for most schools to consider.”

The school workshops will visit St Edmund’s Primary School in Hoxne, Mendham Primary School Partnership, Bungay Primary, Barnby and North Cove Primary, Pakefield Primary, Fen Park Primary in Lowestoft, Edward Worlledge Community Junior School in Great Yarmouth, Southwold Primary, Reydon Primary and Edgar Sewter School in Halesworth, as well as an Education Otherwise group.

If you would like to find out more about the Famous Five Birds, call Jan Dungey on 01986 895227 or email her at jan@ollandstreet.co.uk or visit www.waveneyandblytharts.com

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