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Working with Cannock Chase AONB and West Midland Bird Club

I was approached some months ago, by West Midland Bird Club (WMBC) and Cannock Chase AONB to collaborate with them on a new project. They were looking to create some materials to help the public learn about some of the birds on Cannock Chase following the publication of the WMBC 2017 Cannock Chase Bird Survey Report.  I have been working on this project for the last few months and it culminated in a launch   at Birches Valley Visitor Centre on April 3rd.

The work I undertook was in two parts:

  1. To create an infographic based on the 2017 Bird Survey

  2. Create something to engage & educate visitors to Cannock Chase about the birds that visit and breed there.

This bird survey was first undertaken in 1992 and has been carried out every 5 years, making this last one the 6th conducted. The aim of the survey is to identify those birds present and then analyse results to identify how the populations of birds are faring on Cannock Chase. This information would identify target species that are struggling with the view to this information informing important land management projects to enhance and maintain ecosystems.

The report was based on 24 sectors that local volunteers monitored from mid-February to the end of July and the information was taken, analysed and a report was produced.

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In order for the information within this document to be accessible for the pubic, I felt it needed to be in a very different format. My proposal was to take key information and create an infographic the would tell people about the project, its aims, findings and how this information would be used.

Working with my daughter, Charlotte, who is a graphic designer, we created an infographic that would be used in local libraries, Wildlife trust Centres and at Cannock Chase visitor Centres.

The other part of this project was to help the public learn about some of the birds that live on the Chase, some commonly seen, some less common. For this, I designed and created a Bird Trail . This trail consists of a series of A3 boards that can be installed as a semi-permanent trail. On each board is a woodland bird, with some basic information about it. These boards are linked to a piece of cool augmented reality software, called Aurasma. To add to the experience, visitors download the Aurasma free app onto their phone and follow the ‘CannockChaseBirdTrail’ account. At this point, if they point their device at the image, the image will ‘come alive’ and play a video of the bird depicted. These are two of the ten boards that Charlotte and I designed.

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It is a cool piece of software and I have used it in lots of ways at shows and with kids.  I also designed an accompanying activity for young people that could be used if the trail was set up in a small area. The boards could be placed in such a way that the children would have to search for the boards and then ID the bird and answer a question.

It has been a tremendous amount of work and the first time I have bid for a job with Charlotte in as my designer! There is a lot of be said for working with the graphic designer sitting next to you and we can achieve a lot more at a faster pace than if I was working with an external designer who I had to email my ideas to and wait for responses.

The culmination of all this work was arriving at Cannock Chase yesterday for the launch and seeing our Bird Trail installed on one of the paths.

I worked with Jacqui, from the Forestry Commission education team and we set another bird trail up in the area outside their education centre.  Cannock Chase AONB gave us some lovely goodies to make up some bags for anyone who wanted to take part in our trail. We were delighted when lots of families and children took part and thoroughly enjoyed the trail.

(All children photographed had permission from their carers)

The Brewood Ringers also set up a mist net by the office feeders and were able to bring a selection of birds over to show the families. These bird were ringed and the process was explained to all the families. There was incredible interest and engagement  and it was wonderful to watch the children’ faces when they were shown the birds and they were able to hold them before releasing them into the woods. A big thank you to the ringers involved.

It was a super day and a massive thank you to Roger Broadbent from WMBC, Jim Stewart, Warden, Jacqui from the education team and Anne from Cannock AONB plus all the other people involved in organising this event.


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