Thursday, 14 May 2015

Bird Race 2015


From Midnight tonight, a team comprising of Bob Bullock, Phil Horsnail, Gary Pullan and myself will be embarking on a 24 hour bird race to try and see or hear as many wild bird species within the county boundary as possible. When the fatigue really starts to kick in, Helen Franklin will take over as driver and endeavour to convey us around this fair county of ours!

The previous best total for Northamptonshire is 114 species. Although these events are less popular these days, ardent birders have been completing these marathon bird-watching sessions in the county since 1984. And of course a great deal of change has occurred in that time. Ruddy Ducks have come and gone, Golden Pheasant is now extinct in the county and Corn Buntings almost so. However thirty years ago we wouldn't be contemplating seeing Great White Egret, Little Egret and Red Kite. Some of our scarce woodland birds have become rare now and we will be lucky to find such birds as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Hawfinch and breeding Woodcock.

It is likely that we will begin in the north of the county, listening for birds in the large blocks of woodland during the early hours. At dawn we should be leaning eastwards towards Oundle and then contemplating moving in to the Nene Valley which will be a critical factor. We hope to witness wader passage at gravel pits at Thrapston, Stanwick, Earls Barton and Clifford Hill as well as summering ducks and odd malingering gulls.

I think by lunch-time we will know whether the target will be within our reach. Last time we had seen 14 species of wader and still didn't breach the record.

Although this is a bit of fun, there is a serious side to it as it adequately demonstrates which birds are now becoming difficult to see due their low numbers and of course those birds which are doing rather well.

Should you be out and about tomorrow and find a scarce or unusual bird which we might be able to see and of course boost the numbers and our chance of success, I would be most grateful if you would 'phone or text somebody on the team. My mobile number is 07905 596427...

And of course once I've slept, we'll report on how it all went!


Neil M
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