Nor­folk Bird Race

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Teams will com­pete to tick off as many birds as they can in this 24-hour race against time

NOR­FOLK BIRD RACE ROM MID­NIGHT ON April 30, teams tak­ing part in what’s called the Nor­folk Bird Race will have 24 hours to list as many bird species as they can in the East Anglia re­gion. Each team mem­ber must see or hear the species over the 24-hour pe­riod for it to count, so the pres­sure is on to be alert and seek out the best bird­ing spots.

Held in as­so­ci­a­tion with The Nor­folk Bird and Wildlife Fair, the event aims to raise money and aware­ness for con­ser­va­tion groups, and this year’s cho­sen char­ity is shore­bird con­ser­va­tion­ists, Wader Quest. Jack Bad­dams took part in last year’s event in May, and here is his story. “The alarm pierced the dark­ness at 20 min­utes to mid­night. I’d man­aged about half an hour of

sleep on team­mate Ian’s sofa, and we were soon up gath­er­ing our gear. As the clock struck 11:50, we were in the car and head­ing along the dark lanes of Nor­folk. Even in our bleary-eyed state, we were both acutely aware of the 24 hours stretched out ahead of us. The whole of 9th May would be de­voted to try­ing to see or hear as many birds as pos­si­ble, and would in­volve no sleep. We also knew that some­where out there in the dark­ness was an­other team pre­par­ing for the same. We were on a bird race. It was the brain­child of the op­pos­ing team’s cap­tain, An­drew Whitelee, who wanted to re­vive the high-pro­file grudge bird races be­tween Coun­try Life and the Flora and Fauna Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety in the 1980s. It would raise money for a dif­fer­ent bird con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion ev­ery year – 2015’s was for BTO. Luck­ily, my team­mate Ian lived in Nor­folk and metic­u­lously planned an itin­er­ary. As mid­night ap­proached we reached our first lo­ca­tion – an empty car park sur­rounded by trees. The clock ticked over to 00: 00; let the games be­gin. Fif­teen min­utes later we heard our first bird, the faint note It may look bird­less, here, but Titch­well de­liv­ered the cru­cial birds for Jack Bad­dams’ team You’d be very lucky to get a view like this, but, luck­ily, ‘heard only’ is enough to count. Watch out for that Barn Owl! A nat­u­ralised ex­otic which can be sur­pris­ingly elu­sive on bird races


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