One of the perennial themes of conversation I hear among birders goes along the lines of "where are all the youngsters getting into birding?"
There are certainly a few out there, and many of 'em far better than me, but I thought this press release from Chris Collett of the RSPB was interesting - and provides an opportunity to push a youngster in the right direction - after all, who is gonna drive me to all the big twitches when I'm too old to handle a night on the tarmac?
"Schools across Merseyside will be inspiring the next generation of nature conservationists as they take part in the UK's biggest annual wildlife survey.
Running from 21 January - 1 February 2013, the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch is a fun, easy and free way to connect children to nature by encouraging them to discover and learn about the birds they can see from their classroom.
The survey also helps the RSPB build up a picture of birds visiting school grounds and the population changes they are experiencing.
Last year, almost 90,000 UK school children and teachers across more than 3,000 classes stepped up for nature by taking part in the survey. This year, the RSPB is calling for even more schools to get involved.
Emma Reed, the RSPB's Education Officer in Northern England, explains: "A growing wealth of evidence suggests that many children have little or no contact with the natural world. This is bad news for wildlife because it means that future generations are less likely to care about the threats facing the environment.
"The Big Schools' Birdwatch introduces children to their local wildlife and encourages them to care about the natural world. The survey is easy and fun so it can be the first step towards a life-long love of wildlife."
In 2012, the most common bird in Merseyside schools was the blackbird with an average of 4.85 of them spotted per school.
The black headed gull and the woodpigeon completed the top three, with an average of 4.7 and 3.4 seen per school respectively.
Since its launch, the survey has grown in popularity and the RSPB has also introduced the Little Schools' Birdwatch, especially designed for 5's and under and the Really Big Schools' Birdwatch for 11-14 year olds.
No birdwatching expertise is necessary for teachers, helpers or children and the RSPB has produced a free schools pack containing everything a teacher will need. The emphasis is on having fun and joining in. The pack includes guidance notes, a full colour bird identification poster, counting chart and survey form.
For further information and to get hold of a free Big Schools' Birdwatch teachers' pack, visit the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch or ring 0300 456 8340. The hotline number will be operational until 1 February 2013".
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...