It's that time of year again! The traditional Isle of Man Christmas Bird Race is a race with a difference. Birdwatchers of all levels of expertise collaborating across the island to record as many different species of birds as possible between Christmas Day and the last day of the year.
The Christmas Bird Race started in 2011 and has been a huge hit. During last year's 2016 bird race, a record 113 species were recorded across the island.
However, it isn’t a competition between individual birdwatchers or groups of birdwatchers. The race starts on 25th December and ends on 31st December and the aim is for birdwatchers collectively to find and record as many wild bird species as possible across the Isle of Man during the period.
The bird race is a bit of festive fun. It’s a great excuse to get some outdoor exercise at a time when most of us are probably indoors watching too much television. It’s an event in which everyone can participate – expert birdwatchers and beginners alike, individuals, families and groups – for as many or few hours as they wish.
Mark Fitzpatrick, the race organiser, recalled “The event has proven highly popular in recent years. To take part, all you have to do is head outdoors, record all the bird species you see during the last week of December and send us your records. We’ll add these to all the other records we receive and count the number of species that have been seen across the island. We’ll be publishing news throughout the week and reporting on the final results at the start of the New Year.'
'But,' asks Fitzpatrick, 'can the island's birdwatchers to break 2016's record?'
The Christmas Bird Race rules are very simple
- Sightings should be made within the seven-day period from Christmas Day to the end of the year (00:00 on 25th December to 24:00 on 31st December)
- You can spend as little or as much time as you wish looking for birds on your own, with your family or in groups anywhere on the island
- Sightings must be of birds seen on, above and around the Isle of Man within Manx territorial waters
- This race is just for fun – there are no prizes!
Records of the species you see can be submitted to Manx BirdLife through any of the following methods:
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter using hashtag #ManxBirdRace
- Text message to 07976 421992
- Completing and returning the downloadable recording sheet
You are asked to include your name, the date and place of your observations, what you saw (species and number) and a note of any interesting activities or behaviours you noticed.
Fitzpatrick adds, “Please take care and remember when taking part that the welfare of birds and other wildlife comes first. I look forward to receiving everyone’s sightings. Have fun!”