Sunday February 7th "tanked" with rain.
Here is Tim Woodward's succinct account (to his colleagues and sponsors) of the day:
"For the first time in its 26 year history the race was a 12 hour race as opposed to 24 hours. It was also the earliest date in the year that the race has been run - for the first 15 years it was always an early April race and since 2000 has always been in late Feb/early March.
The Wandering Tattlers Team were sponsored at a corporate level by Hong Kong Electric this year. The start of the race, 6.30am, found us at Ho Chung, in darkness - picking up two sepcies of owls calling from the hillside. The dawn chorus there brought us another 20 species. Elated we rushed to Sai Kung for the Sea Eagle as it caught the morning thermals up from its roost on Kau Sai Chau. Then it began to rain……..
We dropped about 5 species in Tai Po Kau because the birds were not calling. Airfield Road near Shek Kong was even more difficult though the benefits of the scouting earlier in the week by other team members became apparent - particularly in being able to find a silent bedraggled Rubythroat in the same bush that it had been happily singing in earlier in the week. Things were better at Nam Sang Wai - ducks like water - though we debated a Ferruginous Duck and dismissed it only for it to be considered and accepted as the bird of the race by one other team. Long Valley was equally miserable - though Snipe like water too. We waded through shin-deep paths to locate the Painted Snipe but completely missed the Munias - sensibly under cover somewhere out of sight. Our next stop at San Tin ponds was surprisingly a great success for the starlings and Common Myna (which is not at all common in HK).
Finally to Mai Po. As usual we trudged round the marsh for nearly four hours, spending only an hour in the warm dryness of the boardwalk hide and most of the time completely exposed to the elements. We found 10 species of gull and tern on the mudflats and plenty of waders and raptors - though we missed the Striated Heron (two of us missed it by a few seconds) and we missed two Great Bitterns (seen in quick succession by another team 20m ahead of us).
End result - we saw 135 species and came a very happy 2nd out of the 12 teams in the race. As usual the race was very close - the top 5 teams saw 136, 135, 134, 133 and 132 species respectively. We raised more money than any other team - HK$72,000 excluding the corporate sponsor. Our bird of the day was the White-bellied Sea Eagle - the last bird before it started raining…"
And as Tim went on to say... Many Thanks to HK Electric - our corporate sponsor - and all our individual sponsors as well, for putting their hands in their pockets in these sometimes difficult times.
Painted Snipe - WELL seen in Long Valley as we splashed around during the BBR.