Monday, 25 May 2009

TABCG Berkshire Bird Race 2009

TABCG Berkshire Bird Race 2009 Winners
Marek Walford, Mike McKee & Paul Bright-Thomas(insert) 114 Species.

No sooner had I returned from the TABCG Wales trip my attention turned towards the forthcoming TABCG Berkshire Bird Race.

With Roy Rose, Cathy McEwan and myself teaming up again we aimed to beat our previous years record and get at least 100 species, with little migrant activity we had to make sure we got all the common species with a few 'specials' along the way. Knowing the top teams would be recording somewhere between 105 to 110 species the 100 mark would likely put our team in the middle of the pack, but this could be decided by 1 or 2 species so we would have to re configure our last years route to maximise a few of the nocturnal species and find time to get to at least 2 more sites in East Berks.

In previous years we had done a few reccy's to a few of the local sites but this year we had done very little indeed, Roy had located a couple of local Owl sites and I had a few extra sites planned to the route. Last years race had proved 2 sites extra were needed to achieve a semi decent score in the hundreds and we certainly needed to find some extra time along the way, it always seems easy in principle but time ebbs away waiting or looking for that elusive species whatever it may be and lets face it when you've been on the go since before midnight there's times when the brain says go and the feet sat no. At this point even the most common species are valuable and can spur an extra surge of adrenaline to carry you on to the next site.

So this year I had made a slight change to our starting place in the hope that we might get some of the nightime species early thus giving us more time later on to find a few of the difficult daytime species at some new sites. Well you know what they say about best-laid plans!.

The early hours of the bird race went fairly well with the team recording some of the important nocturnal species, 4 Owls & Nightjar amongst a few common species. Despite trying a few locations we didn't connect with Woodcock and another night calling specialty failed to call.

The rest of the day went fairly well as we picked up Warblers and the more regular daytime species, a visit to Coombe Wood being extremely productive giving us sightings of Marsh & Willow Tit and Raven. After visiting another part of the downs we headed East stopping off at Greenham Common, Thatcham Discovery Centre and Lower Farm. We lost a lot of time in this stint of the race but desperately needed a few of the key species at these sites which we didn't find for sometime. We managed to make up for this at the Thatcham Discovery Centre where the Red Crested Pochard that had been on site for awhile was no more than 8 - 10-ft away from the bank, a major bonus that wasn't expected so quickly. Sadly the time we made up was soon evaporated as we waited in the hide at Lower Farm for a duck that Roy and Cathy had seen but I hadn't, with some small consolation we did manage to pick up a few extra species whilst we waited.

We continued Eastwards stopping off at Padworth and Woolhampton and returned to pick up a species that we had missed during the night stint but by now time was well and truly against us. There was no time to make it to West Berkshire where we really needed some of the forest species so headed for the Searles Lane area instead, from here we made our way back to the finish at the Fox and Hounds Pub stopping at sites along the way.

Unfortunately we never got to the 100 species and instead finished on 98, we recorded some good species and missed some glaring common species again. The winning team finishing with a very respectable 114 species, Congratulations to the winners and well done to everybody that took part.(Results Below)

We also managed to see Grey Squirrel, Fox, Badger, Roe Deer, Muntjac & Stoat.

I will write a complete post of the day once I receive our bird race sheets.

More information on the TABCG Berkshire Bird Race can be found here

2009 TABCG Berkshire Bird Race Results:

1. Marek Walford, Mike McKee, Paul Bright-Thomas 114
2. Fraser Cottington, Adam Bassett, Andy Johnson 113
3. Ken Moore, Ken Spring, Nigel Rampton 107
4. Hugh Netley, Jim Reid, Steve Ricks 101
Bruce Archer, Robert Godden, Roger Stansfield 101
5. Cathy McEwan, Ashley Stow, Roy Rose 98
6. Mike Taylor, Phil Bysh, Adrian Lawson 96*
7. Chris Robinson, Renton Righelato, Jim Burnett 94*
8. Jan Main, Milary Morton, Mary-Anne Thomas 73**

* Entire race conducted on bike
** Most of the race conducted on foot

"Bird of the day" was Redwing, recorded by Mike Taylor, Phil Bysh & Adrian Lawson.

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