Young birders scoop top prizes at Spurn Migfest

28 Oct 2022 | No. 2022-47

The seventh annual Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder event took place at this autumn’s Spurn Migration Festival in East Yorkshire. 

Josiah Evans, 13, and Ben Rumsby, 15, won top prize in the junior and senior categories respectively. The assessors were blown away by the skill and knowledge of all six finalists,
aged between 10 and 15.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Spurn Bird Observatory Trust (SBOT) were once again on the lookout for the UK’s best young birders at last month’s Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder (MGSYB) event. Three finalists in each age category (13 and under, and 14 to 16) came to the Spurn Migration Festival (Migfest) to put their bird ID skills and ornithological knowledge to the test. 

In the senior category, the finalists were Sam Glennie, Ben Rumsby and Tomasz Rafinski, all 15. The junior finalists were Josiah Evans, 13, Felix Urwin, 10, and Alife Seastron, 12. They had been chosen on the strength of their response to the application form, which invited young birders to showcase their ornithological knowledge and passion for birds. 

First prize in the senior category went to Rumsby, who won a pair of Swarovski binoculars. Evans, who took first prize in the junior category, won a pair of Opticron binoculars. All finalists were presented with memberships of BTO, SBOT, British Birds, Rare Bird Alert and the Oriental Bird Club, as well as a copy of Jose Caletrío's Low-carbon Birding, by Migfest headline speaker, Dr Alex Lees.

All six were put through their paces with a morning that included seawatching, observing visible migration and tricky ID questions from the expert BTO and SBOT assessors. One finalist even managed to spot a Long-tailed Skua. Next, the finalists answered a series of questions on distribution and population change, and identified a number of recorded songs and calls.

The event commemorates the late Martin Garner, an ornithologist who always encouraged questions, ongoing learning and aimed to inspire the next generation. It was launched in 2015 and, after Garners’ death following year, was renamed in his honour. This year’s edition was sponsored by Swarovski Optik, Opticron, British Birds, Oriental Bird Club and Rare Bird Alert. 

The event was managed by Sarah Harris, SBOT Committee member and BTO Seabird Monitoring Programme Organiser. She said: ‘By engaging with young birders, we give them an opportunity to develop their skills and interest, link up with other like-minded people and ultimately grow their passion for birds. The Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder event, with its focus on identification skills and ecological knowledge, is just one of an increasingly diverse array of engagement strategies. The finalists' breadth of knowledge was awe-inspiring – the future of bird conservation looks bright.’

Contact Details
Tom Stewart
 (BTO Media Manager)
Mobile: 07585 440910
Email: press [at] (subject: News%20release%20enquiry)

Mike Toms (Head of Communications)
Mobile 07850 500791
Email: press [at] (subject: News%20release%20enquiry)

Images are available for use alongside this News Release. These can be downloaded from this link for which you will need to enter the password MGSYB2022. Alternatively, please contact press [at] quoting reference 2022-47.

Notes for editors 

BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Belfast (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

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