Corin Woodhead, 15, of Scotland, was named Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder of the Year in the senior category and Levi Gravett, 10, in the junior category from four other young finalists and 15 young bird watchers competing.
Working together, MigFest partners BTO and Spurn Bird Observatory opened the competition to young bird watchers from across the UK, with a preliminary round taking place earlier in the summer. This included an online questionnaire covering participants’ birding experience, confidence in identifying closely related species, local quilting, record keeping and commitment to the world of birding. Eligible persons had to be 16 years of age or younger on the day of the final.
Martin Garner dismisses the Young Birder finalists with Killian Mullarney (Dave McAleavy).
Some 15 nominations were received from across the UK, and the joint BTO and Spurn evaluation team faced the difficult task of choosing the finalists. Those selected were contacted and had a brief introductory conversation via Skype, both to reassure them and their parents that they would receive great support and that the ‘last day’ event would be fun while offering a great opportunity to learn and meet young bird watchers.
On the morning of September 11, the finalists and their parents gathered in Spurn for a briefing from Chief Justice Sarah Harris, a member of the Spurn Bird Observatory committee and a member of the BTO team helping to organize the MigFest. Then, it was directly in the field, each candidate accompanied by an assessor, revolving around different stages.
These included monitoring the sea, monitoring the estuary, looking for migrating birds in the bushes, and identifying species migrating above the head. During each field step, the finalists had to identify three species selected by the assessor, as well as answer several additional questions and this was accompanied by a ‘laboratory assessment’ where the change in bird population, the birds. bird calls and songs, migration and topography were discussed.
Sarah Harris, Chief Judge of the MGSYB Competition, said: “It was fantastic to meet the six finalists of Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder this year and experience their extraordinary knowledge and skills in bird identification. The five judges were blown away by the depth of their knowledge, at such a young age, during the Saturday morning bird watching. Kudos to Corin and Levi for being crowned winners of the MGSYB21 competition. The entire MigFest organizing team can’t wait to see the finalists in the field, watch the birds, sometimes soon! “
The six finalists were Corin Woodhead, Levi Gravett, Josiah Evans, Felix Urwin, Jenny Allen and Conor Boakes.