SCHOOLS across Dorset are being encouraged to take part in the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch initiative.

This project, to complete the world’s biggest school wildlife survey, is taking place now until mid-February.

Teachers and pupils from each participating school are asked to count birds in their school grounds for one hour every day.

RSPB South West spokesman Tony Whitehead said: “Taking part in the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a fantastic excuse to stare out of the classroom window and discover much more about the wildlife which visits your playground.

“By keeping a lookout and making note of the different kinds of birds, children will not only improve their observational skills and enjoy a great learning experience, but they will also be encouraged to want to help give nature a home, which is fantastic.”

Last year more than 70,000 pupils and teachers across the UK took part in the project, which ultimately revealed the most commonly seen bird on school grounds was the blackbird.

Second most common was the starling, followed by the carrion crow, wood pigeon and house sparrow.

Mr Whitehead said: “There’s plenty of flexibility for schools to run the survey as simply as they would like, or as the centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, project work or as part of work to improve their school grounds.

“It is fun, easy and simple to set up. It works for all ages and even if it is a dull, rainy January day, you can still gaze out of the classroom window and see a flash of colour.

“We hope as many schools as possible will take part in this great event and, don’t forget, the Birdwatch can also be adapted for youth groups such as brownies and cubs.”

Visit for information. The initiative runs until February 13.