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Sir David Attenborough writes letter to West Walton school




Year 7 science students at a West Norfolk secondary school were "thrilled" after writing to legendary wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough with a query about their studies – and receiving a handwritten reply from the national treasure.

When teacher Ellen Castley’s class at Marshland High School in West Walton were learning about birds, they wanted to know why it is that birds of prey, who use their talons to catch their food, are so called, rather than being known as birds of predator.

They decided to try their luck with an inquiry direct to the top of the natural history knowledge tree, at his home address in Richmond, Surrey, and were thrilled when the 95-year-old replied to them.

Natural world icon Sir David Attenborough has written to students at a Fenland school. (48055542)
Natural world icon Sir David Attenborough has written to students at a Fenland school. (48055542)

The handwritten letter addressing the class said:"Eagles 'prey' on smaller mammals, who are also called their 'prey',” the broadcaster wrote. “'Predators' is a noun meaning, roughly, hunters. So 'birds of hunters' makes no sense; 'birds of prey' is very accurate - and shorter. Best wishes, David Attenborough.”

Alfie Baxter (12) and teacher Ellen Castley with the letter from Sir David Attenborough. (48055545)
Alfie Baxter (12) and teacher Ellen Castley with the letter from Sir David Attenborough. (48055545)

Miss Castley, who teaches science at Marshland said:“The class are overjoyed, as am I, that he replied.I can't stop telling everyone!”

Alfie Baxter, 12, with the letter from Sir David Attenborough. (48055539)
Alfie Baxter, 12, with the letter from Sir David Attenborough. (48055539)

David Attenborough’s multi-award winning broadcasting career dates back to the 1950s, and he has made numerous programmes covering all aspects of the natural world, with some of his most famous being Life on Earth and The Blue Planet. This year saw the BBC broadcast his most recent series, A Perfect Planet.

Alfie Baxter (12) and teacher Ellen Castley with the letter from Sir David Attenborough. (48055545)
Alfie Baxter (12) and teacher Ellen Castley with the letter from Sir David Attenborough. (48055545)

Although best known for his programmes about the animal kingdom, in 1998 David Attenborough made a 10-part series called The Life of Birds.

Sir David Attenborough answered questions from the audience in conversation with Liz Bonin at Earth Optimism 2021. Picture: Toby Smith (46052339)
Sir David Attenborough answered questions from the audience in conversation with Liz Bonin at Earth Optimism 2021. Picture: Toby Smith (46052339)


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