Eco Team

Eco Team Update - Winter 2019

Mesmerising Murmurations

Valentine’s Day and the Eco Team had a date – they dressed in their best waterproofs, wellies and scarves and headed for the perfect romantic setting: the Somerset Levels.

They waited, and waited, and waited by the mirrored waters of Shapwick Heath just hoping for that special someone to appear.

Time ticked on. And on. Nothing showed. Until, that is, Mr Bolling gave a shout: their date had arrived, dancing over the hills, elegant and graceful, stepping over the lake like a ballerina.

The starlings had arrived.

For the next twenty minutes the Eco Team were mesmerised by a miraculous mass of murmurating starlings seeking shelter for the night in the reeds of Shapwick Heath. Like a tornado, the whirling mass spun and spiralled over the mirrored waters of Shapwick Heath before dropping like magic into their roost.

Even as we walked away the distant sound of roaring water could only have been one thing: hundreds of thousands of wings and voices settling down to sleep in the reed beds.

Mr Marshall, The Eco team and our 320-year old oak tree.
Our Remarkable Oak Tree

One thing we’re constantly trying to achieve is an increase in biodiversity across the Heathfield campus. Perhaps one of our greatest sources of biodiversity stands outside the school entrance—visitors to our school are welcomed by our magnificent oak tree. Oak trees provide a habitat for hundreds of other animal, bird, insect moss and fungi species.

Speculation about the age of our oak tree has circulated around the school for many years. Mr Marshall and the Eco Team decided to put the matter to rest. During a lunchtime the Eco Team measured the circumference of the tree and, using a formula provided by the Forestry Commission, calculated the age of the tree. We were stunned to discover that our oak tree was a mere seedling approximately 320 years ago!


It’s been a productive year for the Heathfield Eco Team and we’re looking forward to another proactive school year as winter 2018 arrives. A small but merry band of staff and students, we are attempting to change the way we lead our day to day lives at Heathfield School and raise awareness of the Environmental issues that face us in the 21st century.

In January we set off for Ham Wall RSPB reserve for a tour of the reserve. After watching snipe wheeling round above the icy waters we headed off for the viewing platform and the arrival of the starling roost. We weren’t disappointed as thousands of birds instantly appeared from every direction; it wasn’t long before a dark mass of tens of thousands of birds were ebbing and flowing in their murmurating masses above the reed beds. It was an incredible sight and one that will be hard to forget for all involved.

Early spring saw us heading off to the woodworking rooms to create our latest wildlife friendly offerings: bee hotels. Ably assisted by Mr Bolling, the team set to work creating bespoke bee hotels from local hazel. Leather offcuts from the Textiles department were added and a fantastic final product was ready for sale. At £2.50 each, the hotels were snapped up by staff and parents alike. Over £100 was raised by the sale of these hotels; this money will be reinvested into the school environment. As spring progressed we heard of the first official visit to one of our bee hotels: Mr Bolling himself had received a winged visitor to his hotel.

One other major success has been Houseplants for Heathfield - a campaign to install a houseplant in every classroom and office at Heathfield. The project was launched in the spring and many staff became proud owners of a spider plant or Aloe Vera plant. Each plant came with a certificate and a name and students and staff alike were entrusted with the well-being of their green gifts. After several weeks, Owen and the team assessed each plant for rate of growth and general welfare. Owen delivered the final results to a tense staffroom and revealed that Sir Kenneth Grange, the plant belonging to 8H, had shown the most signs of growth. Consternation abounded when it was revealed that Owen himself was himself a member of 8H. Fix or no fix? Only Owen himself can really know the truth.

It’s been a busy, enjoyable and rewarding time for the Heathfield Eco Team – we look forward to achieving many more great things in the coming year.

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