Young birders fly high

22 Nov 2023 | No. 2023–28

This year's Martin Garner Spurn Young Birders have been been put through their paces, testing their bird identification and general birding skills at the Spurn Migration Festival, and the winners named.

Launched in 2015, the Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder awards celebrate and showcase the fantastic skills of young people. Six young birders, who have crafted their skills and knowledge over the years, are selected from the many impressive entries and invited to MigFest, where they are put through their paces via a series of birding challenges.

To reach the finals is a huge achievement in itself and the six finalists are split into two categories: a 'junior category' for those ‘13 and under’ and a 'senior category' for those aged 14 to 16. The finalists have to demonstrate their skill, identifying birds in the field and answering questions related to four habitat types; Estuary Watch, Seawatching, Visual Migration and Birding the Bushes. Also part of the assessment is an indoor theory session where they are tested on calls and songs, bird topography and general knowledge questions. 

From the two categories, the finalists with the most correct answers were awarded the top prize in their age category; Alfie Seastron, aged 13 and William Lambourne, aged 14 became the winners of the junior and senior categories respectively. The remaining junior finalists were Felix Urwin (11), and Milo Dawes (10), and seniors were Toby Middlemist (15) and Sam Glennie (16). 

Sarah Harris, Spurn Bird Observatory Chair and coordinator for the competition, said “Every year, we are blown away by the standard of bird identification and general knowledge of these young birders; we assessors know we would have struggled with the questions these finalists sailed through! Well done to everyone who applied to take part in the MGSYB 2023!”

Sarah continued "We hope that this event, among others, will continue to engage young people with the hobby and showcase the skills we need to ensure continued monitoring our birdlife, and in turn, conserve it." 

The Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder event is only possible because of the kind sponsorship received. We would like to thank Swaroski for the binoculars won by William, Opticron for the binoculars won by Alfie, and to the other valued sponsors offering memberships and t-shirts (British Birds, Oriental Bird Club, Rare Bird Alert, Yorkshire Coast Nature and of course memberships from the event hosts, BTO and Spurn Bird Observatory). 

Spurn Bird Observatory has a long standing tradition of supporting young people with a keen interest in birding, ringing, and all things ornithological. Over the years, many birders have spent time at the Obs in their younger days, where they have been encouraged to hone their skills and experience and develop a life-long passion for birds. There's been a Bird Observatory at Spurn since 1946, which occupies a superb location on the tip of the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

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