It only comes around once a year and lasts for no more than two hours so you would think there would be a good chance of dry weather at least! Sadly, not this year either.
The 2019 Annual Bird Race took place on Sunday 26 May and, as always, started at Stoer Hall about 11am, and finished at Stoer Lighthouse. In light of the ‘inclement weather’ it was unanimously decided to cut 30 minutes from the normal two hours. It made no difference, we all ended up dripping wet!
So, weather aside 10 hardy competitors allowed for three teams on the day; two threes and a four. Each contained a range of abilities, and given the ages of nine of us, that was not restricted to birding abilities!
For those who don’t know the Stoer peninsula there are not too many roads to travel so avoiding the other teams is just about impossible. As a consequence not pointing at some skulking bird to avoid giving the opposition an easy tick becomes almost second nature, if not vital.
At last the lighthouse carpark beckoned and a steaming huddle formed in the lee of the locked loo. Bird lists were counted, and double counted, before anyone mentioned numbers.
In the end, it was a clear victory for the Andy Team who had seen and/or heard a total of 44 bird species in the 90 minutes, pretty impressive; 39 and 34 were the other two scores. Chocolates and Birds of Assynt books for the winners and some of those chocolates for the other two teams.
As always, a good laugh was had and a few colds were no doubt caught!
The combined total number of species seen/heard was an even more impressive 53. And, for those with a need to know personality the list was –
Blackbird, Blackcap, Black Guillemot, Black-headed Gull, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Common Sandpiper, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Eider, Fulmar, Gannet, Goldfinch, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Northern Diver, Great Skua, Greylag Goose, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Kittiwake, Lapwing, Lesser Redpoll, Little Grebe, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Razorbill, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver, Ringed Plover, Robin, Rock Dove, Rock Pipit, Sand Martin, Sedge Warbler, Shag, Skylark, Snipe, Song Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, Twite, Wheatear, Whimbrel, White Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Wren.
Many thanks again to Gwen Richards for organising the winner’s prizes and to David Haines for getting the teams organised. A huge thank you to everyone that did turn up for our 2019 Bird Race, and well done all.