Stu­dents eye Birding World Se­ries

Record Observer - - School -

GRASONVILLE — The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter and Team Ea­glets are part­ner­ing for par­tic­i­pa­tion in the 33rd World Se­ries of Birding in 2016. Each year the New Jer­sey Audubon So­ci­ety hosts the World Se­ries of Birding in Cape May, NJ. This is a chal­lenge for birding en­thu­si­asts of all ages and oc­curs within a 24-hour pe­riod known as, “The Big Day.”

The Ea­glets con­sist of Cen­tre­ville Mid­dle School stu­dents: Ry­ley and Gavin Wright, Faith McCarthy, Maya McGrory (Cap­tain) and Miele McCluskey. All of th­ese youth bird­ers have par­tic­i­pated in the WSB in the past, and look to vie for hon­ors in this year’s chal­lenge.

Ry­ley Wright said, “I love par­tic­i­pat­ing in the WSB be­cause I meet new peo­ple. I know they share the same in­ter­ests in birding as I do.”

His brother, Gavin, the youngest mem­ber of the team, likes the chal­lenge. He said, “The com­bi­na­tion of birding with friends, the ex­cite­ment of com­pe­ti­tion, get­ting to see so many dif­fer­ent bird species, the va­ri­ety of habi­tats and lo­ca­tions we visit, and all of this is done in an or­ga­nized sys­tem. That is what I like about the World Se­ries of Birding.”

This year’s com­pe­ti­tion is slated for May 14. On “The Big Day,” teams can­vass the Cape May area to count as many bird species they hear and/or ob­serve within a 24hour pe­riod. Team Ea­glets par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Zeiss Youth Di­vi­sion-Car­bon Free Kids cat­e­gory will walk and bike their route from dawn till dusk. Sev­eral days prior to the com­pe­ti­tion day, team mem­bers will scout the area and de­velop their routes through­out Cape May County.

Faith McCarthy, Ea­glets team mem­ber, said, “I am a 7th grader and I have been with the Ea­glets since 3rd grade. The 2016 WSB will be my fifth year par­tic­i­pat­ing. I have a pas­sion for birding be­cause it makes me feel closer to my en­vi­ron­ment. My men­tor of four years was Mr. Jim Wil­son, who taught me all that I know.”

So, what is the goal for the num­ber of species Team Ea­glets will find on their bik­ing trek through Cape May habi­tats? They are look­ing for at least 83 species be­cause of the lim­ited area they will cover on foot and on bikes.

To­tals can vary ac­cord­ing to weather con­di­tions, cold fronts, the ex­pe­ri­ence and skill of the teams, the com­plex­ity of the route, the amount of scout­ing, and luck ac­cord­ing the New Jer­sey Audubon spokesper­son.

Com­pet­ing team to­tals have ranged from 48 to 229 species with an av­er­age of 165 species.

The team has been meet­ing since Jan­uary to plan and prac­tice for the 33rd An­nual WSB. They are sharp­en­ing their birding skills and knowl­edge and co­or­di­nat­ing their bik­ing on lo­cal road­ways.

Avid bird­ers, Dr. Jenifer Rus­sell, Ch­e­sa­peake Ve­teri­nary Hos­pi­tal, and Judy Wink, Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter, are serv­ing as men­tors for the group. The team will be well pre­pared to com­pete and hope­fully bring back hon­ors to Queen Anne’s County, they said.

Miele McCluskey, team mem­ber, summed it up, “I’ve been do­ing this for five years and have loved ev­ery sec­ond of it. I do this com­pe­ti­tion be­cause I get to be closer to na­ture and learn more about the world around me. This year’s com­pe­ti­tion is bound to be very ex­cit­ing with new chal­lenges and ad­ven­tures wait­ing just across the Delaware Bay!”

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Team Ea­glets sharpen their birding skills in prepar­ing for the World Se­ries of Birding com­pe­ti­tion. From left: Maya McGrory (Cap­tain), Miele McCluskey, Faith McCarthy, Gavin Wright and Ry­ley Wright.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Lit­tle Miss Muf­fet (Kait­lyn Lu­cas) gets scared by Spi­der (Mayli Hepfer).

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