By Kenneth Noble
Is it possible to raise money for a worth-while cause and have fun at the same time? Clearly, people raise massive amounts for charity by doing the London marathon and getting sponsorship. But is that fun?
I love bird-watching, and have done for 40 years. One Sunday morning, sitting in church, the idea suddenly came to me like a flash to do a sponsored ‘bird race’. I knew that Initiatives of Change needed to raise money to launch a film about the work of its founder, Frank Buchman. And Jodie Marshall had just produced a fund-raising pack. So the stage was set. I set up a webpage at JustGiving and then approached friends and acquaintances to see if they would give me 5, 10 or 20p per species for as many types of birds as I could see within a day.
Fortunately, a friend, who happens to be an ace birdwatcher, agreed to come with me. We would only count species that we could both confidently identify. The date was 5th May, which was timed to coincide with the maximum amount of bird migration and also the height of the breeding season when bird song was at its best.
Brian, my friend, arrived promptly at 6.00 a.m. and we headed for Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent. Birdsong was loud and confusing! But we were soon picking up all sorts of warblers and a distant cuckoo. There were various geese and ducks on the reservoir and we spotted a treecreeper, an easy species to miss.
By the time we left for Oare Marshes, we had clocked up 45 species. Inevitably the list grew more slowly but we still found some exciting species such as avocet, bearded tit and yellow wagtail. We ended the day at Dungeness, where the different habitats meant that we found more new birds. We ended the day on 87, with some rooks at Lydd.
At the time of writing, our ‘race’ has raised £710.05, just above my original target of £700. Many thanks to all those who supported us.
Would I do it again? Yes, but not for a while. It took a lot of work and a certain amount of planning. But it was also satisfying that our efforts paid off. It’s the sort of initiative that anyone could take – an idea takes wings, you might say.