Birds swap seaside for Maddiston school roof

An oystercatcher with one of the chicks on the eco roof
An oystercatcher with one of the chicks on the eco roof
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A Braes primary school has welcomed a new family that has set up home on its eco-friendly roof .

Two oystercatchers have moved inland to breed on Maddiston Primary School’s roof above the library and it seems as if they’re enjoying their stay by extending the family to five following the birth of three chicks.

The species is usually found on coastlines up and down the country, however, they have been breeding in urban areas over the past 50 years according to the RSPB.

They are called oystcatchers due to their love of cockles at the seaside, but if cockle beds are over exploited the large, stocky, black and white wading birds become vulnerable forcing some to find alternative accommodation.

The school’s sedum eco roof is providing the perfect environment for the birds to flourish and the new additions have certainly caused quite a flutter so far. Depute head teacher Evelyn MacDonald said: “Pupils were delighted to find the oystercatchers had nested on their sedum roof next to their library window.

“Two members of the extended learning photography group have photographed them throughout their stay and in early June the children were delighted to see that three chicks had hatched.

“All the classes have came to the library to watch as events have developed. The birds are also very protective of their chicks, tapping the window, and mum has a particularly loud cry as she swoops around the school letting her chicks know she is still around. This has been a wonderful wildlife experience for our school.”

P6 pupil Aaron Fish added: “The birds are really very protective of their babies and it is brilliant to see them all around our school. We took a photograph of the oystercatchers and have had it transferred on to canvas for everyone to see.”

The sedum roof serves several purposes for a building and absorb rainwater, provide insulation and create habitats for wildlife. Oystercatchers breed in the summer and the inland species can survive on worms and insect larvae. They are very territorial, protecting their simple nests, and records show that one pair have defended the same site for 20 years so they could be back next year again.

An RSPB Spokesperson said: “The sedum roof at the school may provide a sheltered, secure spot for the pair to raise their chicks and is a great example of how we can give nature a home in our towns and cities.”