Sunday, 22 May 2016

Norfolk Bird Race and David Tomlinson

They say never meet your heroes, well today it happened to me and it was a humbling experience. As those of you that have followed the story of the Norfolk Bird Race over the last 18 months will know, the original inspiration for the race was the seminal Big Bird Race book written by David Tomlinson and Bill Oddie back in the 1980s. The concept of the race captured my imagination as a teenage boy and so 30 years later I decided to create a charity bird race of my own.

A few weeks before this year’s race I received an email from David Tomlinson himself. He had read an article about the race written by Jack Baddams in Birdwatching magazine and had got in touch to wish everyone taking part all the best. I was utterly stunned to hear from him and thrilled to say the least. Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the 2016 Bird Race I corresponded with David, getting little bits of trivia and gems of insight about the 1980s Big Bird Races. Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask him if he would present the trophy to the winner of this year’s race at the Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair and he said yes. However, not only would he come and present the Norfolk Bird Race Trophy, he would give me the original Big Bird Race Trophy complete with Hawaiian Goose egg signed by Peter Scott. Now if you are of a certain age and into birding you will know that this is a piece of birding history. The thought of even seeing this trophy was amazing, never mind becoming the custodian of it.

So on Sunday at the Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair, I finally met David and his lovely wife Jan (she of the fantastic picnics in the Big Bird Race book). He handed the trophy to me, which I tried to unwrap whilst shaking, signed my copy of the Big Bird Race book and dutifully let us boss him around as we took photos of the whole event. Unfortunately, none of the winning Tit Flock team captained by Jake Gearty could make it to the event so I accepted the Norfolk Bird Race Trophy on their behalf in the presence of Rick Simpson from Wader Quest. The Norfolk Bird Race Trophy will be handed out to winning teams annually, but like The Ashes stay at Lords, the Big Bird Race Trophy will stay with the Norfolk Bird Race team. However, having spent 30 years in David Tomlinson’s house, it would seem a shame to hide away the Big Bird Race Trophy and Peter Scott Egg, so we are planning on giving it a tour of the country, raising money for the bird race and giving wide-eyed, middle-aged men like myself the chance to see it in the flesh. More details of this will follow.
Accepting the Norfolk Bird Race Trophy on behalf of Tit Flock

David signing Andrew's copy of the book

Unwrapping the trophy

The Sir Peter Scott Egg

Thank you once more to David Tomlinson, a kind, wonderful and generous man, we have taken the bird race charity baton and will endeavour to raise as much money for conservation charities as we can.

Andrew Whitelee

Wader Quest Receive Cheque for £1664.10 from Norfolk Bird Race

Today at the Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair, Rick Simpson of Wader Quest was presented with a cheque for £1664.10 by Norfolk Bird Race organiser Andrew Whitelee, in the presence of Big Bird Race legend David Tomlinson.

Rick Simpson, Andrew Whitelee and David Tomlinson

Monday, 2 May 2016

Norfolk Bird Race 2016 - Results

On 30th April 2016, five teams took part in the second Norfolk Bird Race, all intent on seeing or hearing as many species of birds as they could in the allotted 24-hour period. Some teams such Northern Raiders, Fellowship of the Wing and Norfolk Home Guard decided on a midnight start, whereas the students of Tit Flock decided to start a little later. Wader Quest, who were this year’s recipient of monies raised also entered a team and went for an even more leisurely start.

Although the race was held two weeks earlier than in the previous year, the weather on the day was much better so hopes were high of some respectable scores. By midday the Northern Raiders had a clear lead with 117 species, second were Tit Flock (103), then Norfolk Home Guard (88) closely followed by Fellowship of the Wing (86) and Wader Quest (77) bringing up the rear. The Norfolk Home Guard captain Ian Dearing was feeling unwell so their team finished early, but not as early as Wader Quest who enjoyed their day and put in what can only be described as a matinee performance. A lack of local knowledge (of the traffic not the birds) caused the Northern Raiders so mighty problems in the afternoon and Tit Flock caught up and came past by late afternoon, leading until the end.

The final scores were Tit Flock (142), Northern Raiders (136), Fellowship of the Wing (127), Norfolk Home Guard (124) and Wader Quest (105). Congratulations to Jake Gearty, Drew Lyness, Alex Berryman and Michael Murphy on their deserved win.

On a sad note, two days before the race Chris White’s dad (David White) died, meaning Chris had to withdraw from the Norfolk Home Guard team, with Nigel Packer stepping in as a late replacement. Chris and his sponsors still kindly donated their money even though Chris couldn’t take part, and this year race is dedicated to his father, our thoughts are with him, friends and family.

Even though Wader Quest came last on the day, they were the biggest winners in the end with total funds raised by the Norfolk Bird Race 2016 being £1664.10. Rick and Elis Simpson of Wader Quest will be presented with a cheque by race organiser Andrew Whitelee on Sunday 22nd May at the Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair.

Thank you to everyone who took part, raised money, donated money, tweeted, liked, followed and promoted, without you this wouldn’t have happened.

See you on 13th May 2017 for the next Norfolk Bird Race!!!!!