Saturday, 7 August 2010

The 2010 Bardsey Autumn Birding Tournament

The big event of the last week was the beginning of the hotly-anticipated Bardsey Autumn Birding Tournament on the 1st of August. Until the end of the season, points will be awarded to the finders of uncommon birds on the island, with resident and visiting birders competing to score the most points each week. At the end of every visitor week (usually Friday night), the week’s points will be tallied up and the winner announced on this blog.

In addition to the weekly events, birders who will be on the island for the whole autumn will keep a running score tally until the end of the season. The four competitors signed up for the long event so far are Richard Brown, Richard Else, Ben Porter and Steve Stansfield (although any other entrants will be welcomed).

Competition progress, highlights and the inevitable controversies will be detailed here throughout the autumn, so keep checking the website to find out how events unfold. Which visitors will manage to out-bird the professionals? Who will find a high-scoring mega rarity? And who will ultimately claim the coveted title of Bardsey Birding Champion 2010?

Week 1: Competition review and results.

In addition to Brown, Else, Porter and Stansfield, competitors in the opening week of the tournament were visitors Alex and Gerry Johnson from Essex and the Lawrence family, captained by dad Martin, from the West Midlands.

The opening day of the tournament got off to an inauspicious start, with no points scored during the morning despite several entrants making a special effort to be out in the field at dawn. The first breakthrough came in the afternoon, with Alex and Gerry notching up a point for finding a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the North West fields.

The early leaders then managed to double their advantage the following morning, securing another point for the first Arctic Skua of the autumn. The two-point lead was then held for two scoreless days before the 5th of August saw two competitors draw level with the leaders: Ben Porter and Team Lawrence both finding a Greenshank independently, and scoring two points each.

There was all to play for going into the final day of the week, with three entrants topping the leader board on two points apiece. The morning yielded no points for anyone, but late in the afternoon Porter managed to nose into the lead with a single point for a flock of Black-tailed Godwits on the Narrows. We thought it was all over, but Martin struck back immediately with a last gasp equaliser for Team Lawrence by finding a timely Bonxie off the South End.

So at the end of a rather low-scoring week of competition, Ben Porter and the Lawrence family shared the victory on three points each, with Alex and Gerry coming in a close second despite their promising start. It was not a good week for the observatory staff, who failed to score a single point between them.

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