Saturday, 9 January 2016

Article in The Western Daily Press

In early December 2015, as a Bristol Green Capital Ambassador, I wrote a guest blog about getting teenagers into nature.  This is something that is really important to me, as our young people are the environmentalists of the future. If we are to unable to connect with this generation, then the future is lost.  At the moment, that is not happening. At around the same time, I wrote an article for The Wildlife Trusts about how if there was one thing that could be focused on to get more young people interested in nature, it would be focusing on getting teenagers into nature.  That is because there is lots of work being done with primary school age children, but in my experience as soon as they walk through the doors of secondary school, liking nature is forgotten.

Teenagers at Camp Avalon 2015

Teenager at Camp Avalon 2015

Teenagers at Camp Avalon 2015

A couple of weeks later I wrote an piece for The Western Daily Press which is a regional daily paper in the Bristol, Bath and Weston-Super-Mare area.  It was about getting teens into nature, increasing the number of ethnic minority people getting out into nature and also about the birding I have done.

Weston Daily Press article on 12 December 2015

Weston Daily Press article on 12 December 2015

"I am thirteen years old and love birds and nature.  My parents and older sister were birders and so I got taken along with them, wherever they went.  It must have been tricky driving long distance with me as I didn't sleep much.  I was taken on my first twitch, when you go to see a specific rare bird, when I was just 9 days old.  Then I was a toddler, I went to see a rare bird called a Black  Lark.  The bird came really close to my pushchair, when I pointed at it and called “birdie”, my fourth word.

When I became three or four, I decided that I wanted to look at birds to.  I think it helped that my sister was 16 years old and to me seemed really cool.  If she loved birds, then so did I.  Remembering these early thoughts, makes me realise how important it is to have people inspiring you.  That’s why I think it’s essential to make sure you inspire other young people and why I set up a nature camp in the summer for young people, for both those interested in nature and those from the inner city who have no experience of the countryside, nature or camping.  It was brilliant to see the five city boys get connected to nature at different times over the weekend.  It wasn't easy for them as they didn't what to do or feel in the countryside but then when they became enthralled with something, like ringing (when you catch birds in nets and put rings on for scientific research), it was really moving.

I have recently written a guest blog for The Wildlife Trusts, explaining my getting teenagers interested in nature and conservation is the biggest step towards making the next generation love wildlife.  I would like to work with The Festival of Nature and Avon Wildlife Trust to get more teenagers especially ethnic minority ones involved.  Neither group target teens at the moment but I think they have a real opportunity in Bristol.

I went on my first big trip abroad when I was four years old and went to South Africa.  We had a fantastic trip seeing lots of birds and animals.  It’s the first trip that I can remember what I saw, with my favourite being African Penguin and Ostrich.

The first trip that got me hooked on world travel and seeing birds of the world, was my trip to Ecuador when I was eight.  I loved seeing so many interesting birds and built a lifelong friendship with our guide Andrez.  We saw lots of difficult to see, skulky birds like Antpittas and Tapaculos, which you have to wait ages for just to get a 10 second view.  There is something very exciting in seeing a new bird, particularly when they are hard to see, rare or you have spent ages trying to see them.  When I go abroad, I see so many new birds, it is a constant buzz.

We spent the summer looking at birds and wildlife in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.  We went Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda, which was fantastic.  The Gorillas came really close,  completely ignoring us.

On our first day in Kenya, I say a Red-throated Tit at Swaro Plains, just south of Nairobi.  This was the 4000th bird in the world that I have seen.  Counting the birds that I have seen is just a bit of fun, but keeps me motivated to keep going.  I am the youngest person in the world to have seen that many birds.  The top birders in the world have seen over 9000 birds, which I doubt I will ever do, as you have to keep birding and looking for new birds all the time."

About the Writer

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 13 year old young birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. 

Mya-Rose is a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter

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