OPAL (Open Air Laboratories)

Boy looking through magnifying glassThe OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) project is a new partnership initiative funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund (£11.75 million) and co-coordinated by Imperial College London.

One of its major aims is to get research scientists working with local communities on local environmental issues.

Portfolio partners include nine universities such as Birmingham, Natural History Museum, Open University, Field Studies Council, Meteorological Office and the National Biodiversity Network.

The project will also work closely with the Environment Agency and many voluntary sector organisations. The portfolio has three major themes of particular environmental importance: biodiversity, pollution and climate.

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Urban bird spotting

Birds on a wireThe OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) project in the West Midlands is currently out and about putting small coloured and metal rings around the left leg of 12 species of birds in Shire Country Park and Sutton Park. This is part of a wider study into the biodiversity of the region.

By finding out where these marked birds are being seen they can answer questions such as:

  1. How far are birds moving?
  2. Where are birds moving to in Birmingham?
  3. Which bird species are moving to and from other patches of Birmingham?
  4. Do birds in parks utilise garden food resources or remain in parks?

 If you see a ringed bird, let OPAL know by submitting a record.