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'Birdathon’ gives wings to Island Nature Trust’s land acquisition and stewardship work

Piping Plover, a sparrow-sized shorebird.
Piping Plover, a sparrow-sized shorebird. - Desiree Anstey

Teams will strive to break the record of 108 species counted in 24 hours

SUMMERSIDE., P.E.I. - Teams of three to seven members are invited to gather pledges and then head out in one 24-hour period and find as many species of birds as possible around P.E.I. on Saturday, September 29.

The fun marathon for the 23rd annual Bennett Fall Birding Classic fundraiser is a great opportunity to get involved in bird watching or birding at any level, scouring all terrains for a glimpse of migrating and overwintering birds, while all in support of the Island Nature Trust’s land acquisition and stewardship work.

An osprey in Summerside builds its nest high on top of a pole to protect its young from predators.
An osprey in Summerside builds its nest high on top of a pole to protect its young from predators.

“Last year participants recorded some unusual finds for the time of year like a Clay-coloured Sparrow, a Palm Warbler and Gray-checked Thrush. The Bennett raised $4,466 in 2017, and $42,525 since its inception,” commented Megan Harris, Trust executive director.

Island Nature Trust and Nature P.E.I. collaborate with the hope to raise sufficient funds from this event and others to assist in the acquisition of coastal natural areas around P.E.I.

But it’s not all about flocking to find the most bird species. The challenges have already flown from team to team for the most funds raised and the most kilometers travelled in this quest.

For the serious birders, the Bennett, named after the late Neil Bennett (a dedicated Piping Plover volunteer), will gather important information on both migrating and overwintering bird species. The Bennett bird count, when combined with other counts carried out at different times of the year, can identify changes in population levels, migration patterns and timing.

A Great Blue Heron protects its fishing area on Summerside beach by chasing away one of it's own species.
A Great Blue Heron protects its fishing area on Summerside beach by chasing away one of it's own species.

Rare birds have been sighted in this one-day event, but strict rules are followed to avoid interfering with bird behaviour or causing harm.

Dan McAskill will lead this year’s expert team, which could spend as much as 20 hours in the field exploring many birding hotspots around the Island.

Everyone is invited to form a team or join an established team and collect pledges for Island Nature Trust. Teams will strive to break the record of 108 species counted in 24 hours. Young birders who are just starting out can join Island Nature Trust staff for the Youth Bennett taking place on the same day from until 11 a.m. This is a great way to introduce children to birding and exploring nature.

Public are invited to support this effort by creating a team of their own or collecting pledges for their favorite team. Corporations are welcome to sponsor a team or the entire event.

To register, make a pledge or get more information contact Island Nature Trust at 892-7513 or admin@islandnaturetrust.ca or follow on Facebook.

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