The 2nd Annual MRBC!
A Virtual, Carbon-neutral Contest of Town and Stream
A version of this event report appeared on Antioch's website and in NH Audubon's NH Bird Records Fall 2020 issue.
2020 made an in-person competition and celebration impossible with the corona virus but the club was determined to still hold the event.
On Saturday September 12, 8 teams gathered before dawn all across the region, from Keene to Peterborough to Hinsdale and began their checklists.
Over the course of the day, the birders tallied an impressive 112 species during the course of the competition - not too shabby for 12 hours in September away from the coastline!
This year was certainly an improvement from the previous year with the weather holding steady and the wind mild: a perfect day for migration. That only made it easier for the 5 teams in the Carbon-footprint Challenge. They competed by bike and by boat, spending their 12 hours searching out birds without the use of cars.
The coveted MRBC Cup this year went to the No Petrol Petrols of Massachusetts, who logged an astounding 86 species over 12 hours - nearly all of it by kayak on the Connecticut River. A more local team, Gone Pishing of Keene and Stoddard, took home second place and the Townie award, for finding 67 species within Hinsdale. Team Setophaga, received third place and the Carbon Footprint Challenge award for detecting 46 species while walking between Keene and Swanzey.
Hinsdale was a popular starting point for many teams this year, including team Geese Lightning, the winner of the Fledgling award. Congratulations for finding 43 species in your first birding competition! Last but not least, the stationary and stalwart Paccipiters reeled in top marks within the Big Sit category by finding 40 species from the Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory in Peterborough.
Rarities were light, with a late Canada Warbler and several Red Crossbills. Also of note were 2 Eastern Whip-poor-will reports from Hinsdale (a species infrequently documented in this part of the state), Gadwall (1st Cheshire county record this year), a single Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a Philadelphia Vireo, and surprisingly, not a single Wild Turkey. A full species list and more detailed event report will be shared on the MRBC website.
Since an event could not be held in person, the Bird Club did not seek out sponsors this year or award physical prizes. Each team took home a personalized certificate and category winners received category certificates.
Antioch Bird Club is grateful to the participants for taking part even without the full MRBC experience being possible and to the several generous donors who chose to contribute what they were able to to support student conservation work. The club is optimistic that next year’s competition will return to normal and see just as much engagement!
Meet the Winners!
Not all event categories are represented below
Carbon Footprint Challenge Winners: Setophaga
Antioch student John Garrison walked from downtown Keene to Swanzey and recorded birds along Airport Road at the Dillant-Hopkins airport.
Big Sit Winners: Paccipiters
The crew of hawk watchers up at Pack Monadnock in Peterborough took home our Big Sit award! They recorded birds from their perch watching the skyline for migrating hawks.
Fledglings Winners: Geese Lightning
Russell Chretien took it upon himself to put his birding skills to the test alone! He took home the Fledglings award for most species seen by a team with less than 5 years of birding experience.
Townie Winners: Gone Pishing
Competing in both the Townie and Carbon Footprint Challenge, these Antioch students and friend of the club Chandru biked 15.3 miles around Hinsdale and explored the Hinsdale Setbacks for all kinds of birds. They took home the Townie award.