Birdwatchers race for conservation
Participants have been helping to raise money and awareness by competing in international birdwatching races held in two very different parts of the world.
Fraser's Hill is in the Main Range mountains of Peninsular Malaysia. A combination of unspoiled rainforests teeming with birds and easy access from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, make this one of the top birdwatching locations in Asia.
This year’s Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race, co-organised by the Malaysian Nature Society (BirdLife in Malaysia) and the Fraser's Hill Development Corporation, was held over the weekend of 12–13 June. Seventy-two teams (consisting of 216 participants) and twenty-seven schools took part in the event. The winning team ('Marbled Wren' from Malaysia) recorded a total of 82 species.
Elsewhere, at Europe's eastern fringe, BirdLife Finland and the Kuusamo Bird Club organised the 21st Kuusamo Bird Marathon. The Kuusamo region, close to the Russian border, is one of the best birdwatching areas in Scandinavia and holds important wetland areas and old-growth boreal forest including the famous Valtavaara ridge.
Thirty teams, including participants from as far away as the UK, took part in the 24-hour race on June 18–19. Their entry fees will help fund the construction of a new birdwatching tower at Lake Torankijärvi.
Altogether, a total of 161 bird species was recorded by participants. The winning team, 'Doz K Hahn' from Finland, saw 131 species – narrowly beating their closest rivals by two. Special birds of the Kuusamo region, such as Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus and Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla, were seen by many teams. However, the highlight was two Booted Warblers Hippolais caligata, a species not previously recorded in the area.