Monday, 8 November 2010

The 2010 Bardsey Autumn Birding Tournament
FINAL WEEK: Competition Review and Results

Here we are then, finally, at the grand culmination of the inaugural Bardsey Autumn Birding Tournament. After 13 gruelling weeks of intense competitive bird-spotting, there remained just six days for a late upset; six days for a miracle. The final week began with Steve Stansfield 23 points clear of Richard Else at the top of the leader board, Ben Porter 35 points behind Else, and Richard Brown looming just two points behind Porter. The Rt. Revd. David Hawkins, Bishop of Barking, was also present to play his part in the tournament’s denouement.

Ben Porter, desperate to defend his bronze medal position from Richard Brown, got the week off to a flying start in characteristic crack of dawn fashion with a Ring Ouzel (1 point)and a Hooded Crow (1 point) to open up a four-point lead over his rival. These efforts were soon frustrated though, when Brown struck back in style with a Pallas’s Warbler at Ty Nesaf – one of the best birds of the autumn and worth a whopping six points. Not too disheartened, Porter responded quickly with some Long-tailed Tits (2 points) to get back on level pegging. The battle for third place was getting tense, and was clearly going to go right to the wire.

Not that it makes much difference to anything, but Else found a Bullfinch (1 point) and Stansfield saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 point).

After an exciting start, the week then fell desperately flat with four consecutive days of frustrating bad weather and not even a glimmer of a point-scoring bird to be seen. Could the final day produce anything better?

Else managed to end the tournament with a half-decent find: a Great Northern Diver (1 point) from the north end of the island was shortly followed by a Black-throated Diver (3 points) – a very nice bird, but it was far too little far too late to worry Stansfield. The Bishop got his name on the score sheet with a couple of Whooper Swans over the South End, and Brown made a late move into third position with a flock of Eiders (1 point). Porter now needed to score and was frantically scouring the island for points but, despite racking up a fair species list, just couldn’t find anything to increase his score. As the daylight began to dwindle, even a desperate last-chance sprint over the mountain and around the coast in the rain failed to produce the hoped-for late equaliser. As night fell, it was all over. The final results were as follows:

Name          Score
Stansfield      113
Else                94
Brown             59
Porter             58

The Award Ceremony
On the evening of the final day, the entire island population descended unannounced, amid a cacophony of bugling fanfares and the clattering of ceremonial crockery, upon the living room of the tournament winner to present a magnificent trophy to the champion. The Bishop, wearing a swirling cape and brandishing a bugle, delivered a rousing and flamboyant speech to the assembled islanders before conducting the prestigious and slightly surreal presentation ceremony.

Ben Porter, so narrowly beaten into fourth place, received a consolation flapjack; Richard Brown was presented with the bronze trumpet of third place; and Richard Else was the recipient of the runner-up’s silver spoon, purloined earlier in the evening from the obs kitchen. Then it was time for the main event: the grand culmination of the autumn’s contest. The great prize was brought forward and the veil lifted to reveal, in all its glittering plumery, the Bardsey Birding Crown. The slightly bewildered-looking observatory warden was ushered forth to receive his magnificent trophy and, on donning the crown, officially accepted the prestigious title of Bardsey Birding Champion.

And so, with the crowning of Steve Stansfield as Bardsey’s first birding king, endeth the great tournament of 2010. Can anybody challenge him for the title in 2011?

The coveted Bardsey Birding Champion’s Crown: a bespoke, handcrafted coronet with faux-ermine lining, genuine argenteus adornments and a centrepiece jewel of the purest green. The crown must be worn by the reigning champion at all times during the next season’s tournament.
“Hear ye, hear ye, honourable islanders... witness history in the making... the inaugural, the very first award ceremony for the 2010 Bardsey Autumn Birding Tournament”.
The winner exultantly lifts the bejewelled prize from the presentation pillow.
Steve Stansfield: Bardsey Birding Champion 2010.

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