There’s never been a better time to get kids interested in nature. But if tempting them away from their screens is proving a challenge, we have just the thing – 10 of the most inspiring teen birdwatchers worth following on social media.
If your kids won’t listen to you, try introducing them to these young birdwatchers – teenagers whose enthusiasm for our feathered friends just might be catching…
Mya-Rose ‘Birdgirl’ Craig
Having shared a stage with Greta Thunberg, you can be sure of Mya-Rose Craig’s environmentalist credentials. Mya-Rose – aka Birdgirl – is a passionate birder, champion of VME countryside access, and an all-round super high achiever who, despite her already impressive track record, remains very down-to-earth and approachable.
At 13, Mya-Rose had already travelled all seven continents and set up a charity Black2Nature, which runs camps for VME teens; at 17, she became the youngest person ever to have spotted over half the world’s birds; and recently, she became the youngest person ever to be awarded an honorary doctorate from Bristol University.
Sparrows and starlings are just two of the birds which Dan Rouse enjoyed watching as they exploded into action last spring. Well worth a watch, her YouTube video of the wildlife action in her garden offers a look at some of the wild birds you’re likely to see in your own patch.
Dan is a presenter for BBC Country Focus, and is campaigning for rewilding in her native South Wales. Do check out her website where you’ll find information about Cymru Naturiol – the project she set up in partnership with Tadorna Bird Tours. Working with farmers, gardeners, landowners, charities and councils, she’s helping to create spaces for the conservation of birds. If you’re in Wales and you’d like to get involved, Dan is looking for like minded people.
“Over the course of the year I’ve been assisting a few young lepidopterists with my improving dissection skills,” says James McCulloch. While a fascination with bugs, bees and in this case, butterflies and moths might not be mainstream entertainment for teens, for young people who like something a little bit different, James is ready to guide and instruct via his blog Only Natural.
It’s not until you look at the wealth of creepy crawly wildlife James has identified in his back garden that you get a sense of the variety of truly fascinating creatures we’re simply too big and clumsy to notice. Also an excellent wildlife photographer – check out James’ rare sighting of a long-eared owl in its daytime roost.
If you’d like to explore nature in and around London with your kids, do check out young ornithologist Kabir Kaul’s interactive map detailing all the nature reserves in London. A project that’s sure to help promote nature and bird watching in the city, with such dedication and initiative, Kabir is set for great things in the world of nature conservation.
Kabir’s blog – Kaul of the Wild – is definitely worth a look. The online diary of a young man on a mission to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats, Kabir shows us how to take action in a positive way. Start with his visit to Warren Farm, Ealing, where Kabir shows his support for the site to be awarded the status of a Local Nature Reserve. Moving and knowledgeable, it’s inspiring writing.
Encourage kids to follow Kabir on Twitter if they’re looking for ways to save the planet.
“It’s way too late to leave it down to the public to make small changes in their lifestyles. It’s got to be done on a far larger scale, on a political scale,” says James Miller during an interview with Channel 4 News about the need for immediate action on climate change.
James says, “young people have the potential to be hugely influential,” and he’s determined to do just that. At just 19 years of age, he’s an accomplished wildlife documentary maker and his blog, Knee Deep in Nature, contains everything that your kids need to keep abreast of environmental issues. From what rewilding really means to the latest debate on grouse hunting, James provides plenty of food for thought.
“There’s no point trying to defend our behaviour as anything but completely bonkers, but us youth have to live while we can!” So says Luke Nash when describing his mad dash to Cornwall with several of his fellow young birders. A young man with infectious enthusiasm for birding and a highly engaging way of communicating it to readers young and old, you’ll love his blog, Luke Nash Nature.
Begin with Luke’s recounting of his experiences as an assistant warden on the Spurn – “a crackled radio message alerts us to the presence of a stonking adult Pectoral Sandpiper on Kilnsea Wetlands! It was quite funny to watch four adult men with bins and optical equipment spring out of their seat and make a beeline for the wetlands by bike and foot.”
Follow Luke on Twitter to stay up to date with his birding news.
“If you have ever seen a Bittern then you will know how elusive they are,” says Michael Sinclair of Mike’s Nature. “I was lucky enough to be at RSPB Lakenheath Fen in one of the hides watching an adult with young. I was then amazed when this adult flew right past the hide!” An incredible photo, no wonder Michael is the first Scot to win the Marsh Award for Young Ornithologists.
For insights on the joys and challenges of wildlife conservation volunteering, Mike’s Nature is a great place to start. Why not begin by rewilding your back garden? Read Michael’s post about his experiences in his own backyard – proof that you don’t have to go far to do your bit for conservation.
“Imagine if every school had their very own wildlife garden or area,” says 18-year-old Mya Bambrick, creator of Mya’s Birding Blog. She created one at her own school in West Sussex, transforming a barren courtyard area into a haven for wildlife.
Read up on Mya’s vision for school wildlife gardens; she says of her school’s courtyard, “I noticed how devoid it was of life and how much potential it had. So, I set on the mission of creating our very own school wildlife garden.” A great source of inspiration for young people who like to get their hands dirty with practical projects.
“We always catch the most [birds] on the first couple of rounds in the morning as we get all of the overnight roosting birds in the vegetation next to the nets,” says trainee bird ringer, Izzy Fry! Do check out Izzy’s Nature and Photography blog to see the photos she took of the stunning birds she caught and recorded at Martin Down nature reserve in Hampshire.
An aspiring conservationist and zoologist,15-year-old Izzy offers this advice for anyone who would like to get involved in nature and conservation work: “I would strongly recommend getting in touch with your local wildlife hospital and see if there is anything you can do to help!” She did, and you can read all about her day at Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital in her blog post.
“From the urban birding to volunteering to meeting friends and role models, it’s been somewhere that’s helped me so much in my love for nature and birding,” says 17 year old naturalist, Arjun Dutta. He’s talking about the National Trust’s Morden Hall Park, and the Green Academies Project to which he belongs.
During Lockdown, Arjun has adopted South London’s Beddington Farmlands as his regular patch. Do check out his incredible pictures of the female Kestrel he took there – just one of the 109 bird species, he recorded in 2020. Arjun says – “Wherever I go, generally my binoculars come with, and normally my camera too!”
Follow Arjun on Twitter for great birding content.
We hope these nature-loving teens give the young people in your life plenty of motivation to get out there and enjoy the birds and wildlife on their doorsteps. It could prove to be the start of a lifelong love of nature, or even the inspiration for a career in conservation.