On Sunday 13 March (lucky for some!) six teams made up of HBC members took part in the Annual Mini Big Birding Day competition. The forecast was for light rain in the morning, however, most of us managed to get through the day without getting wet as the showers were pretty scattered. The six a.m. start was something of a problem with the overcast conditions not allowing any light through, but two teams actually managed to see a Fiery Necked Nightjar, and most others got Spotted Eagle Owls.
Thereafter the teams set off on their various routes and, whilst some had more success than others, the general consensus was that everybody had a good time and could not believe that 12 hours of concentrated searching could pass so quickly. Meals were gobbled down at roadblocks, shortcuts were taken to arrive at special locations and, by the end of the day, speed limits were probably being broken in order to squeeze in one more bird!
At the ensuing prize-giving and braai, each team recounted their day and it was interesting to learn about what other twitchers had seen or missed. Scores were varied, but one thing was certain – the winners were the Hermanus Harriers, comprising the Palmers, Mike Ford and Lee Burman. They came home with a record 135 species followed closely by the Naughty Terns made up of the MacNaughts and Turners (surprisingly!) at 128. My team, Any Bird Will Do, came in fourth with 120 species.
For me personally, it was a wonderful day – my first in this competition, but it will not be my last. This is what birding is about and it provides a wonderful opportunity for people to get to know one another as well as to share their birding prowess and learn from the members of their team. Let’s hope that more teams enter in the future!