Gary Roskell, development manager of Birmingham and the Black Country wildlife trust with 5 year old Alfie Davis

Youngsters have been flocking to a fun-filled eco-event the Northfield Shopping Centre to discover more about birds and mini beasts.

So far there have been two of four sessions at the centre, designed to keep youngsters entertained during the school holidays, each Thursday until August 28th.

The events, all are themed on a sustainable summer, are being run in partnership with the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and Black Country, plus Northfield Eco Centre.

Inside a specially-constructed picket fence, last week’s fruits of the earth day saw the children sowing their own seeds to take home, plus making bird feeders from recycled materials. The Wildlife Trust was be on hand offer a learning table of bird facts, so the whole family can get involved.

This week families discovered more about creepy-crawlies and helped to make their own bug-spotter kits so they can continue their wildlife exploration in their own gardens, using a poster of insect information, explained Gary Roskell, the Wildlife Trust’s development officer.

“We want to help the children understand that even in urban areas there is plenty of wildlife around them, whether it’s a peregrine falcon nesting on a tall building such as tower bock or a robin in their garden, or the black redstart. This is a small bird related to the robin and is one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds, with only around 100 breeding pairs. It can be found nesting from Birmingham to Wolverhampton plus a few other urban areas.

“We’ll also be explaining how at Victoria Common, the park near Northfield Shopping centre, a wildlife meadow has been created using hay taken from a traditional meadow managed by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. The hay contains the kind of species that would have grown around Northfield, and this will have lots of flowers, such as orchids and cowslips, which attract insects, and they in turn attract birds.

“People don’t realise how important urban areas are for wildlife. Hedgehogs, sparrows, song thrushes and stag beetles are all declining species in the UK, but if we manage our gardens and green spaces sympathetically for wildlife, these creatures and many more will feel the benefits. Gardens are increasingly important spaces for wildlife as habitats in the wider countryside shrink and fragment, and climate change takes its toll.”

Northfield Shopping Centre manager Pete Barber said: “It’s important that children get involved with learning more about their environment and how to take care of it, and that’s what these sustainable summer events aim to do.

“We will also be working with Northfield Eco Centre to encourage families to recycle their junk, creating beautiful items to take home, instead of throwing the items away.

“We are proud of our green credentials here at the Northfield Shopping centre, whether it’s recycling old cardboard and paper through to reducing energy,” added Pete.

Two more sessions will be running on the next two Thursdays:

Thursday 21st August: Re-funk My Junk
Join the Northfield Eco Centre at a recycle junk workshop.

Thursday 28th August: On Your Bike
Join Cycle South Brum and have fun on smoothie bikes!

Northfield Shopping centre is home to more than 40 stores, from fashion, health and beauty to services and food and drink, and has more than 650 parking spaces. More details at www.northfieldshopping.co.uk

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