School #wildlifemap competition with Steve Backshall

Some of you will know that we’ve teamed up with EDINA for an exciting competition featuring Digimap for Schools and our #GetOutside champion Steve Backshall. Combining geography, wildlife and photography, it’s a fantastic opportunity for primary school children. Steve tells us more about the competition and about some great British wildlife you could be spotting.


Here is a great chance for you and your school to get involved with Ordnance Survey.  We want to encourage children all over Britain to get outside looking for wildlife. You can enter the competition to win a visit from me to your school. All you need to do is start investigating your local wildlife and photograph what you find. Upload what you spot onto a map and send it to us. I’m really excited to see the entries and to meet the winning school. I’ll be able to talk to you all about the wildlife you’ve found and answer any questions you have. 

You can spot all sorts of wildlife in urban areas. Here are some examples of what you might find.

The red fox lives in many urban areas, thanks to their adaptive behaviour. They will eat almost anything and you will often see them scavenging in streets. Patience and picking somewhere quiet is a great way to spot them. You may see one sniffing around bins or even in your garden. They often live beneath garden sheds and decking. If you wait quietly, you may spot a whole family.

Hedgehogs are rather shy and may take even more patience to see one. They prefer to come out at dusk, so this would be the best time to look. They are very noisy eaters, so you may hear one before you see it! They feed on earth worms and insects, so a good place to search would be in your garden or a park, where there is plenty of their favourite foods. You may find some hedgehog tracks in soft mud, or even in some flattened patches of grass shaped like a tunnel, where they have been foraging for insects.

For those of you who are in more rural areas, keep your eyes peeled for badgers. If you live near a woodland, you can search for a sett. You will find fresh piles of soil outside, if the sett is being used, as well as a lovely pile of droppings. You are more likely to spot badgers at dusk, so you will need a torch to help you see them clearly. Be sure not to flash the light too much or directly at a badger. Being still and positioning yourself far enough away from the sett will increase your chances of seeing these shy animals.

Don’t forget to look up! You can see all sorts of birds in Great Britain. Keep your eyes and ears open for the woodpecker. There are a 3 different species, including the green woodpecker. A top tip is to listen out for the noise they make as they create holes in the trees. You are most likely to see them searching for food in the trunks of woodland trees, but you can also attract them into your garden by placing feeders by a tree and planting some shrubs for more protection. They are shy so remember to be quiet and patient. A pair of binoculars will give you an even better chance of spotting birds.

If you are really lucky you might be able to find evidence of my favourite British bird, the Hobby. This is a falcon that migrates to Britain at this time of year. They love catching dragonflies mid flight and are incredibly fast. They are commonly spotted around woodland edges.

I’m sure some of you will take some amazing photos and will want to share them. If you want to send your individual photograph, you can ask a teacher to tweet it using #wildlifemap. Every week, you will be in with a chance of winning one of my books. But you really do need to get a move on. The competition ends on 10 June, so get yourself outside investigating and spotting!

Best of luck to everyone in the competition – I cannot wait to see your wildlife photographs.

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