The Norfolk Bird Race was first held in May 2015 with two teams competing against each other to try and see or hear as many bird species as possible in 24 hours. The race owes it origins to the original Big Bird Race held back in the 1980s between teams from The Flora and Fauna Preservation Society (containing Bill Oddie) and Country Life Magazine (with David Tomlinson). This race and the subsequent book acted as inspiration for me when I read it as a teenager many years ago and in 2015 I finally got round to emulating my heroes and participating in a bird race of my own.
The race was a sponsored event in association with The Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair and raised money for worthwhile conservation charities and projects, which in 2015 was the BTO’s House Martin Appeal.
Deciding to race for a different charity each year, 2016 saw a bigger event with five teams raising £1664.10 for Wader Quest. Tit Flock, a team made up of Next Generation Birders was victorious with a total of 142, despite the teams having to cope with heavy Bank Holiday traffic much of the time.
Crucially, it was Andrew’s meeting with David Tomlinson (and the original Big Bird Race trophy) at that year’s Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair that brought the event full circle to its origins and 2017 sees a name change to Bird Race Challenge, aiming to raise money for World Land Trust.