A Focus on Nature are trying to encourage the younger generations to get active in birdwatching, natural history and conservation. A recent idea has been to set up an inter-university challenge which sees each university compete with each other trying to record as many species and sightings as possible from within the university grounds.
The group is still in the early stages, because a lot of the pre-existing active birders at Bangor Uni left last year. Attending the Bangor Uni Freshers Fair in September on the Bangor Bird Group table, there was a great deal of interest in the group and we got over 150 people to sign up for emails and several new members. Ros set up a facebook group just this week and we've already had 38 members join the group (after being forcefully added by us...but still!)
One of the main reasons for setting up the competition, for me, is the competitive side that a life of being the youngest sibling and bird listing has implanted deep inside me. If we were in the middle of London for example, I guess I may not have been quite so eager to join the competition.
I genuinely think that Bangor has quite the competitive edge. Given the location, there is a great chance of some otherwise hard to get birds appearing on almost every single trip out. How many Universities in Britain can say that almost without fail, you can see Little Egret and Black Guillemot from the Uni campus?
During my time at Bangor, I've so far seen Osprey, Chough, Red Kite, Great Northern Diver, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Brent Geese, Whooper Swan, Lapland Bunting, Waxwing, Gannet, Common Scoter, Spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper from 'Bangorian' soil. I think that given enough effort, 125 species won't be out of the question.
I think the only thing missing from Bangor, really, is any freshwater. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anywhere where there is even a pond! This will almost certainly make Coot, Moorhen and Tufted Duck blockers!
So how does this help birds, birding and conservation? Well it's simple: BirdTrack. All the records will be entered into BirdTrack and there will be prizes for the most records entered by an individual, most species seen and 'Birder of the year' (for the person that spreads the word of conservation and natural history, and is just an all round top birder!)
So without further ado...COME GET US ABERYSTWYTH!!