Tell us about Birdsong Academy
We exist to help people identify wild birds by sound, wherever they are. The original idea was borne out of lockdowns, when many of us were unable to visit the places we might normally hear birds, but could do so by connecting with other people, while discovering surprises closer to home. Through online courses, dawn chorus Zoom calls, podcasts, walks and workshops, we aim to connect more people to the sounds around them and open a whole dimension of awareness of the natural world.
How does Birdsong Academy support conservation and our natural environment?
Birdsong Academy is designed to help increase awareness of the birds around us, and the way that our choices of land use, food production and neighbourhood design can affect the kinds of birds we can expect to hear. With greater skills for recognising song, more people will be able to contribute to monitoring bird populations and advocating for them.
What is Birdsong Academy doing to promote sustainable activity/development in The Living Coast?
Many of our activities are available online, and are taken up by people across the UK and Ireland as well as in Sussex. Within the Living Coast area, we have provided training to farmers on the Eastern South Downs to support monitoring of winter bird populations, and we organise ‘walkshop’ events in places such as the Lewes Railway Land and Stanmer Park. A proportion of revenue for these sessions goes to local conservation projects, and some is spent with local businesses such as The Depot and The One Garden, which provide all-important tea and cake (and sometimes shelter) after a walk.
How do you help spread awareness of The Living Coast and its values you share?
We want to increase engagement with nature in a sustainable way, and using digital technologies provides a new way of creating collective experiences with nature with lower transport emissions. For our in-person events, we choose our venues in The Living Coast region for their public transport links and accessible visitor facilities. The biosphere designation captures many of the aspects that make our part of the world good for learning birdsong, with birds of the chalk such as skylarks, yellowhammers and linnets often living close to the outskirts of our towns. We’ve drawn on the Living Coast network to find local businesses and projects that align with our mission, and we’re exploring new partnerships and creative collaborations.