I did it last year with Pip, and when I printed out the counting sheet this year he recognised it and was very excited to do it again. So after lunch we went up to his room, which overlooks the back garden (he traded rooms with Spike, because Pip is getting to need his own space, and Spike was thrilled to get to move into the bigger room with all the toys, and to share a bunk-bed with Dude. And Dude got to move to the top bunk - so everyone felt like they had moved up a rung!).
Anyway, there we were, watching birds eating sunflower seeds, peanuts and fatballs hanging from the tree in the back garden... An hour is a fairly long time for a 7 yr old, but he did really well. He had the tally sheet, and we watched the birds' antics, tried to count the ever-moving flocks of sparrows and identify what we saw.
Spike came in to assist... I picked him up and took him to find his daddy since I couldn't possibly change his stinky bum - I was busy birdwatching! When suddenly there came a cry from Pip: Mum, what's THAT?! So I dumped Spike and came running... there was a big bird in our garden, one we had never seen before.
'It's really mean, Mum. It stomped on a bird!'
'Yeah, there's a bird under it.'
Sure enough there was a little bird's head moving under the big bird's feet.... I ran to get the camera, cursing that I hadn't thought to have it up there with us. I got it and aimed it at the bird, just getting into focus, when it took off. Aaargh!
We had our birdspotter's book with us, so quickly identified the 'mean bird' as a female sparrowhawk! Pip said it actually snatched a sparrow out of the tree before landing in the garden with it.
I was astounded. I had never seen a sparrowhawk before, let alone one catching a bird, and there he was, at age 7, seeing wonders of nature I had never seen in all my (many) years. Wow. I was so impressed with him, and he is now a confirmed birdwatcher. Hooray!!!
As we didn't get to take a picture of our sparrowhawk here is one courtesy of the RSPB. I hope they don't mind! We do pay our subscription fees...