The Norfolk Bird Race was first held in May 2015 with two teams competing against each other to try and see or hear as many bird species as possible in 24 hours. The race owes it origins to the original Big Bird Race held back in the 1980s between teams from The Flora and Fauna Preservation Society (containing Bill Oddie) and Countrylife Magazine (with David Tomlinson). This race and the subsequent book acted as inspiration for me when I read it as a teenager many years ago and in 2015 I finally got round to emulating my heroes and participating in a bird race of my own.
The race is a sponsored event in association with The Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair and raises money for worthwhile conservation charities and projects, which in 2015 was the BTO's House Martin Appeal. In 2016 the race will raise funds for the wonderful Wader Quest.
Last year two teams took part, with the Norfolk Team narrowly pipping the Visitors Team to the Norfolk Bird Fair Bird Race Trophy. This year the race is back and is bigger and better with five teams competing for the prize.
The Norfolk Home Guard
Last year’s winning captain Ian Dearing has a new team this year and is strong favourite to retain the trophy. His team of seasoned birders offer experience, guile and local knowledge making them the team to beat.
Team: Ian Dearing (@IanDearing1), Chris (@LewishamBirder), Tim (@suburbanbirder) and Mark Clements (@MarkClements27)
Still smarting from last year’s narrow defeat, team captain Andrew Whitelee has brought together a crack squad of birders from the north and over the border who are keen to grab the trophy. Refusing to announce the final team until race day, do they have something cunning up their sleeve?
Squad: Andrew Whitelee (@VerdantWildlife), Penny Insole (@Dotterel4), Dave Foster (@Pratorum2112), Scott O’Hara (@Scott_OHara) and Dr Stuart Crutchfield (@stucrutchfield).
This year’s chosen charity is Wader Quest, and they have entered a team into the race. Captained by Dan Bradbury who has links to the original Big Bird Race (John Burton is his boss!) they bring racing pedigree to the event with a blend of experience and youth. Definitely this year’s dark horses.
Team: Dan Bradbury (@cantdonoses), Rick and Elis Simpson (@WaderQuest) and Oliver Simms (@OSimmsBirding)
The Fellowship of the Wing
The other half of last year’s winning team, Jack Baddams has split from Ian Dearing (artistic birding differences perhaps?) and has a new team of young guns vying for the prize. Has Jack poached enough local knowledge off Ian to retain the trophy with his new team?
Team: Jack Baddams (@), Samuel Jones (@samuel_ei_jones), Joseph Monkhouse (@josephmonkhouse) and Liam Curson.
Another team of Next Gen Birders, bringing youth and enthusiasm to the race. Captained by Jake Gearty, this team is a real unknown quantity – don’t back against them when it comes to race day.
Squad: Jake Gearty (@Jake_Gearty), Alex Berryman (@AlexJB497) , Drew Lyness (@DJLbirding) Michael Murphy (@MSMurphy300) and Dan McGib (@DanMcgib)
So pick a team and give them and waders your support by donating on our Just Giving page
Remember, waders need love too.