The Neil Bennett Autumn Birding Classic

September 21

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Each autumn for the last 24 years, Island Nature Trust and Nature PEI have joined forces in a team event for birds and nature. The Neil Bennett Autumn Birding Classic is a fundraiser and an important citizen science event. Teams with 2 to 7 members gather pledges and then on September 21 head out in the morning to find as many species of birds as possible in the 24-hour period.

This fun marathon count is an opportunity to get involved in bird watching or to support the protection of bird habitat. In 2019, four teams have already signed up. Island Nature Trust and Nature PEI would love to see more teams get involved in this friendly competition and fund raiser.

For the more serious birders, the Bennett, named after the late Neil Bennett (a dedicated Piping Plover volunteer), is an opportunity to contribute to our knowledge of long-term trends in bird populations in PEI. When combined with other counts carried out at different times of the year, the Bennett can help identify changes in population sizes and timing of migrations. Rare birds are often sighted in this one-day event. Strict rules are followed to avoid interfering with bird behaviour or inadvertently causing harm.

This year’s lead team of Dan McAskill, Dwaine Oakley, Ray Cooke and David Seeler will spend as much as 20 hours in the field, exploring many birding hotspots in eastern and central PEI. Anyone may enter a team and bird any part of PEI, giving the experts a run for their money. Young birders can join INT staff for the Youth Bennett taking place on the same day from 9-11am.

Everyone is invited to form a team (or join an established team) and collect pledges for Island Nature Trust. Back yard 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!

All funds raised through pledges and donations go to Island Nature Trust’s land acquisition and stewardship work. The Trust is hoping to raise sufficient funds from this and other events to assist in the acquisition of old forests in PEI which are reservoirs for certain birds and other species.

Individuals and corporations are also welcome to sponsor a team or the general event. To register, make a pledge, or get info, contact Island Nature Trust at 902-892-7513, or FB.