A new race for secondary-school students has been added since BBR2019, with a half-day training course provided prior to the 4.5-hour race. The youth team race aims to help young participants learn more about nature in a practical and engaging way while grooming the next generation of bird-lovers to take part in the conservation of Mai Po Nature Reserve. This race also aims to emphasise the importance of securing the management of Mai Po Nature Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. All results from the race will contribute to data analysed by Mai Po Nature Reserve management.
HOW THE RACE WORKS
The Big Bird Race (Youth team race) includes a one half-day training course on 19 Jan 2020 followed by a 4.5-hour bird-watching race, with teams of four working together to record as many bird species as possible during the allotted time. Every species recorded must be seen or heard by all members of the team. The training and the race will be held on Mai Po Nature Reserve. Teams are required to submit an e-log book at the Mai Po Education Centre after the race. The judge will examine each team’s e-log book to determine the winners and the results will be announced at the award ceremony.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
- The enrolment deadline is on 17 January 2020 (Friday).
- Each team will be made up of four members, including four core members and a teacher. Every record entry needs to be seen or heard by at least three of the group’s core members. The bird species recorded during the competition will be calculated for the final result. Each bird species earns one mark. The result will be announced on the day of the competition and the team with the highest score will be declared the race winner. The judge will have the right to determine the final results.
- All team members must participate throughout the duration of the race. No replacement or substitution of team members may be made during the race. Unless there are special reasons, team members should stay together during the race. No team member, including the teacher, is allowed to conduct reconnaissance or search for news about birds before the start of the race.
- Each school is allowed to have two teams joining the race.
- All teams must attend a half-day bird watching theory course to be held by WWF-Hong Kong. The course date is tentatively scheduled for 19 January 2020, there will be lectures on birdwatching knowledge, information about the rules and regulations of the race, and an expert talk.
- We encourage participating schools to conduct site visits to Mai Po at least twice during the period of 19 January to 15 February. During each site visit session, core team members (students) must be accompanied by an adult (teacher, parents or friends). If three or more core members attend the site visit session, three bonus marks will be awarded to the teams, with a maxiumum award of six marks. If fewer than three core members attend the site-visit session, no bonus marks will be awarded.
- The race will be held at Mai Po Nature Reserve from 8:30am to 1pm (4.5 hours). The race will finish at the grass field outside the Education Centre. The team must report to the referee immediately after the competition, and check if the contents of the electronic birdwatching record (e-logbook) are accurate within 30 minutes (before 1:30pm). No new bird-record entries may be added during this time. The results will then be handed to the referee for review and scoring. The electronic birdwatching record cannot be modified after 1:30pm. The captain needs to stay to answer any questions raised by the referee.
- All participating teams must submit the electronic version of the bird-watching record to avoid incurring penalties. The marks given will follow the electronic bird-watching record. Three marks will be deducted for every minute of late submission. If the late submission is less than a minute, three marks will be deducted.
- Lunch time will be scheduled at 1:30pm and participants are required to prepare their own pack lunch. Please be reminded to reduce or eliminate the use of single use plastics!
- Participants are required to refer to The Avifauna of Hong Kong, published by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society. Only species listed in categories I to II of the book, or those in the race logbook, will form part of the count. The following restrictions also apply:
- Birds must be unrestrained.
- Oiled, sick birds or species released from captivity within a few days of the race will not be counted.
- All species must be recorded within the territorial area of the Hong Kong SAR.
- Only positively identified species are acceptable.
- Attracting birds with recordings of vocalisations or bait is prohibited.
- Teams can only enter the permitted area for the competition. The access road and pontoon area between No. 16/17 and No. 14 fences in Mai Po Nature Reserve are strictly off limits.
- If any rare bird species is recorded, the judge will examine the validity of the record entry. Team leaders are advised to pay particular attention to the species of the bird observed in the event, as the judge requires evidence of the sighting. Proof of the observation may be required in the event some endangered species have not been spotted at Mai Po or data on the bird is insufficient.
- To avoid unnecessary nuisance to birds, participants should not approach known breeding sites and bird habitats or places where large numbers of birds gather for food/resting. Under no circumstances should participants intentionally scare or drive away birds.
- During the competition, participants cannot communicate or talk about the information related to the birds’ location in Mai Po to non-race participants, but may do so with fellow participants.
- If the bird-watching hide is crowded, each team will be assigned two seats and two spots for standing, to free up space.
- If the participating team fails to comply with rules that have no corresponding penalty listed, the team will be listed as finishing last, irrespective of how many bird species they recorded. All complaints will be examined and handled by the judges. Teams that violate rules cannot challenge the penalties imposed by the judge.
- The results will be announced at the award ceremony, which will be held after the race. To ensure fair results, the adjudicator will re-examine all e-log books and release the adjudicator’s report one week after the race.
- Participants are advised to download the iNaturalist app in advance to help identify different bird species during the race.
Adverse Weather Arrangements & Special Public Activities Arrangements.
WWF reserves the right to cancel the event if:
- The Red or Black Rainstorm Signal or Typhoon No.8 Signal or above is hosted at 5am on the event day, or
- There are other adverse incidents beyond the control of WWF, such as the closure of the Mai Po Nature Reserve by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department due to infection control.
- Due to the large number of public events happening in Hong Kong, we will have special arrangements if there are unexpected changes of things during the time of the event.