Monday, May 15, 2006

World Series of Birding: Saturday

Mother Nature smiled on the teams competing in the World Series of Birding. Down in Cape May, the sun shone, and a mild breeze blew. It was a vast improvement over the previous forecasts.

After a lively, leisurely dinner at Lucky Bones, our group—relatives, friends and sponsors of two teams—migrated to the volunteer fire hall in West Cape May. The new location for the Finish Line offered much more room than the trailer next to the lighthouse at Cape May Point State Park.

When we walked into the hall about 10 p.m., we saw various teams already chatting about their adventures and enjoying the generous buffet. Along with youth teams, we noticed the digiscoping teams—three adult groups that competed in the Classic’s new category. The digiscopers did a modified Big Day, working from sun-up to sundown to photograph the most species using a digital camera and a spotting scope.

Most World Series teams turn in the official checklist when they get to the Finish Line. The digiscoping teams had to put their photographs on CDs for review by the judges. I’d like to know if the digiscoping rules said anything about the quality (specifically, focus) of the images and if not, if that will become an element in upcoming Classics. That could add a demanding twist!

After the judges reviewed the teams’ checklists, an official total appeared on the tally board. Another board showed the unusual and unexpected finds during the day, citing species, location and team.

As the hour approached midnight, more teams arrived at the fire hall, and the noise level increased. I always get a kick out of observing all the chatter by birders who’ve been awake for at least 24 hours.

Right after the “five minutes until midnight” announcement, one of the fellows from Zen Zugunruhe walked into the hall. Dave turned in the WildBird team’s checklist, and Matt and Tait soon joined him. They said it had been a challenging day on Cape May Island—but fun, as always… which is the point of the exercise.

With another World Series complete, it was time for a few hours of sleep before the awards brunch on Sunday morning.

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