Feathery fundraising

The Bennett Fall Birding Classic for species at risk

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Each autumn, for the last 27 years, Island Nature Trust (INT) and Nature PEI join forces in a team event for birds and nature. The Bennett Fall Birding Classic is a fundraiser and a significant birding event. Teams of four to six members gather pledges and then on September 18, head out in the wee hours of the morning to find as many species of birds as possible in one 24-hour period. The marathon count is a great opportunity to get involved in bird watching or birding at any level. In 2021, teams will scour PEI from coast to coast, east and west, for a glimpse of migrating and overwintering birds. INT and Nature PEI would love to see more teams get involved in the friendly competition.

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 in PEI. 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.  Rare birds are often sighted in this one-day event. Strict rules are followed to avoid interfering with bird behaviour or causing harm.

All funds raised go to INT’s species at risk and stewardship work. The Trust is hoping to raise sufficient funds from this and other events to assist in the conservation of natural areas wildlife habitat on PEI.

This year’s expert team, led by Dan McAskill, could spend as much as 20 hours in the field, exploring many birding hotspots on PEI. Anyone can enter a team, giving the experts a run for their money. Young birders who are just starting out can join INT staff for the Youth Bennett taking place on the same day from 9–11 am. This is a great way to introduce children to birding and exploring nature.

Everyone is invited to form a team (or join an established team) and collect pledges for INT.  Backyard observations are just as valuable as those made over hundreds of kilometers.  Teams will strive to break the record of 108 species counted in 24 hours.

The public is invited to support this effort by donating to INT or by creating a team of their own and collecting pledges. Corporations are welcome to sponsor a team or the entire event.  To register, donate, make a pledge, or get more information, call 566-9150 or email admin@islandnaturetrust.ca. Rain date is September 25