With less than one week to go until Black Friday (Friday 29th November), birders, outdoor enthusiasts and campers, and others will be keeping an eye out for money-saving deals on binoculars and telescopes. Once armed with nice new kit, there’s always the dilemma about what to do with the existing equipment.
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Castle Espie in Comber, County Down is asking people to bring any optical equipment they no longer use along to the centre, and hand it in to a member of the team in the shop.
The idea this festive season is to help spread the ‘magic’ of being able to see birds close-up by donating any pre-loved binoculars or scopes to communities along the main west African bird migratory routes. Just like many people in this country, people there love nature, love wildlife, but could simply never afford to buy their own equipment.
Donated items will be checked and repaired before being sent out to partner conservation groups at community-run wetland nature projects along important bird stopping-off and feeding points in Senegal and Mauritania. Local wetland educators will use the equipment to introduce local children and adults to the joys of bird-watching, and in turn, hopefully develop budding birders of the future.
The more powerful optics will be sent to large wetland reserves where they will help local communities get involved in delivering ‘citizen science’ feedback on bird movements.
Speaking about the initiative, Sarah Fisher, Marketing and Communications Manager at WWT Castle Espie said:
“Each year tens of millions of birds migrate between Europe and Africa along a globally important bird migration route known as the East Atlantic Flyway. Many species that use this route are declining in numbers, but to know how to address the issue, we need to have reliable information on actual bird numbers, their feeding sites, and migration routes. That’s why we are working to inspire and develop whole new communities of citizen scientists on this flyway to provide us with feedback.
“By donating pre-loved optics to this great cause, people can be sure that their equipment will be going to a good home and inspiring another generation of nature lovers.”
The donation scheme is being co-ordinated by Migratory Birds for People, a WWT initiative that works with independent and voluntary wetland partners world-wide. Senegal-based Ibrahim Hama from partner organisation, Wetlands International West Africa said:
“Here in West Africa we often find it hard to get binoculars and scopes. These valuable donations will really help us to involve more communities and schools in our conservation work, at their centres and sites in mangroves, at coastal bird reserves and other special wetlands where millions of birds congregate each year.”
The East Atlantic Flyway stretches from Greenland and Russia in the north all the way through western Europe and then down the west coast of Africa as far as Namibia and South Africa. Over 90 million birds, many travelling more than 10,000 km, are thought to use this route, mainly flying north in the summer to breed, and then returning to their wintering grounds in warmer climes. Along their route, they rely on coastal sites to feed and rest, and the loss of just one site can have a serious effect on a whole population. Donations of pre-loved kit can directly help our partners protect these precious sites for our shared birds.
For further information please contact Sarah Fisher, Marketing and Communications Manager
028 91 875975