Devon Kingfisher Award Scheme

The Kingfisher Award Scheme has been running in Devon for 23 years and is co-ordinated by Penny O’Connor. Each year between 350 and 390 children from ten schools across Devon take part in the scheme.
The 2017 theme is – “Life on the Hedge”

The Kingfisher Award for 2017 will concentrate on Hedges and Field Margins. The Devon hedge is unlike any other hedge in Britain as it is planted on an earth bank and field margins are the areas of uncultivated land that often adjoin them. Hedges were created as boundaries to enclose property, to control and provide shelter for stock. Field margins originated from the strip left to allow horse drawn implements to turn and are generally the least productive part of the field. Both are extremely important to wildlife. Hedges, weeds and grasses that are left uncut, produce supplies of seed, fruit and cover for small animals and beneficial insects that over winter there. These insects move into the crops in early spring, to consume large numbers of cereal aphids. Field margins also act as wildlife corridors linking several species’ habitats. In the last century, many hedges were taken out, to enable larger crop areas and with the advent of hydraulic lift implements, farmers were able to plough much closer to hedges so doing away with field margins. This caused a dramatic decline in habitat for wildlife but in recent years farmers have been encouraged by several conservation agencies and the government, to re-instate hedges and provide field margins to try and redress this imbalance. We shall see how important these areas are for the animals that make up the food chain.

The Activity Stations

(1) Hedge Hoppers
The children will be studying a hedge, looking for different species of trees, plants and shrubs and what birds they support. Looking at the history of the hedge, how they have changed and how to calculate its age (Hooper’s Law).
(2) Creature Seekers
The small mammals we expect to find should include voles, shrews and field mice. We hope to see some live specimens. Who would predate upon these creatures? We will look for signs of other mammals that might use the hedge for shelter.
(3) Wheat Gleaners
The children will be looking at wheat in the adjacent field. They will pick apart wheat stems and study the ears and how they grow and ripen. They will take some wheat seed and grind it with hand grinders to make flour. We will make a simple dough which they will kneed and handle.

The KAS is entirely reliant on sponsorship money, charitable donations, and volunteers. If you would like to make a donation or offer your time to help please contact Penny O’Connor on: 01647 433372 or email poconnor1@btconnect.com