Tight Finish for Champions at WWF’s Big Bird Race 2017 Local and regional bird-watchers brought in funds for Mai Po during an exciting race | WWF Hong Kong

Tight Finish for Champions at WWF’s Big Bird Race 2017 Local and regional bird-watchers brought in funds for Mai Po during an exciting race

14 February 2017

The 34th Big Bird Race, WWF-Hong Kong’s annual bird-watching event, was held on 4 February and was a flying success. A local team, The Professionals, emerged as the winner after identifying an impressive 155 bird species by the end of the 12-hour race.
About 100 local and regional bird enthusiasts formed 16 teams to take part in this year’s race. The Professionals were crowned champions after squeaking past the first runner up, HKUST Fire Bird – one of last year’s winning teams. Over the years, the Big Bird Race has become a major annual event for the local bird-watching community and has begun to receive widespread and enthusiastic support from overseas bird lovers as well. This year, four overseas teams from China and Taiwan joined the race, with the Overseas Cup eventually being awarded to the Swarovski Crazy Birdy team from China.
The kick-off ceremony for the Big Bird Race 2017 was officiated by Mr Peter Cornthwaite, WWF-Hong Kong’s CEO, who gave a rousing speech noting the outstanding conservation and education achievements made at Mai Po Nature Reserve over the past year. Ms Katherine Leung, Mai Po’s Assistant Reserve Manager, also explained how reedbed birds had benefitted from the funds raised by last year’s race.
The icon of this year’s Race was the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, one of the world’s rarest migratory shorebirds. This species has been listed as Critically Endangered worldwide by the IUCN since 2008, and its current global population of less than 228 breeding pairs will almost certainly decline further over the next coming five years. Mai Po is a regular stopover site for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the spring, with an average of between one and five individuals recorded every year during April and May. Due to the bird’s rarity and charismatic appearance, its presence alone attracts many birdwatchers to Hong Kong each year.
WWF has been organizing the Big Bird Race since 1984 to raise funds to manage precious migratory bird habitats at Mai Po Nature Reserve and run education programmes which help cultivate a sense of appreciation and responsibility towards nature in the participants. The funds raised by this year’s race will be used to enhance Mai Po’s Gei wai #16/17, a key site for many species of shorebird, including the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Even though the race itself is over, everyone can still support the teams by donating online on or before 28 February 2017.

                                                         Big Bird Race 2017
Award Winner
Most Birds Seen – Champion The Professionals
Most Birds Seen – 1st Runner Up HKUST Fire Bird
Most Birds Seen – 2nd Runner Up Sparrows
Bird of the Day Jebsen Eagles
Wetland Specialist Taiwan Mikado Pheasant
Dip of the Day Guangyazhiyi
Overseas Cup China – Swarovski Crazy Birdy
University Cup HKUST Fire Bird
  (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
Other Participating Teams AEC
All Stars
Duck Chick
EO Team
Kerry Cranes
Mai Po Nature Interpreters
Mai Po Team
Taiwan Tit
Swire Birdbrains