Students eye Birding World Series
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!”
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.
Little Miss Muffet (Kaitlyn Lucas) gets scared by Spider (Mayli Hepfer).