Regular readers will know that often I join North Walsham alumni Gary White and Adam Pointer in May for a bird race, attempting to see or hear as many birds as possible within 24 hours. Rather than any competition this has been done purely for our own enjoyment, and we have tended to go on one of the bank holiday weekends (initially the late May one, but in recent years the first May one). Whilst the time for seeing the optimum number of birds is mid-May, by going in the middle of a three-day weekend we allow ourselves a day's rest either side!
In the past couple of years a Norfolk Bird Race has also been organised, raising money for a wildlife charity and with a trophy awarded at the Norfolk bird & wildlife fair. The first year was a two-team affair (a Norfolk team vs a visiting team), but last year it was opened up and five teams competed. After our 'race' last year (where we were joined by Alysia Schuetzle) we decided that in 2017 we would enter the Norfolk Bird Race and compete for Norfolk birding glory.
Early in 2017 we found out that the Norfolk Bird Race was undergoing some changes. The Bird & Wildlife fair wasn't going ahead this year, and the Norfolk Bird Race was being renamed the Bird Race Challenge. The main race would return to two teams (in homage to the original Country Life vs ffPS races of the 1980s), but other teams around the country could enter and challenge the score of the main two teams by entering the Virtual Bird Race. I was initially a bit apprehensive when I saw the name 'virtual bird race', envisaging the reuirements being staying at home playing the SIMS birding expansion pack, or perhaps travelling the county looking for birds on Google Streetview, but once convinced that it did actually involve going out birding, we agreed to take part.
So the upshot is that in a few weeks time we will be taking part in the Virtual Bird Race, hoping to record more birds than everyone else and raising a bit of money for the World Land Trust, specifically for their project to save the critically-endangered Blue-throated Macaw in Bolivia.
If you want to get involved there is still time to register a team for the bird race, you can find the details here: https://birdracechallenge.com/, or if you would like to donate then there is a just giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/NorfolkLoons.