TWITCHERS were out for the count in South Tyneside yesterday for the borough’s annual bird race.
Eight teams of wildlife lovers had their eyes on the prize as they set their sights on spotting the most feathered friends in a single day.
The annual event – held by the Coastal Conservation Group (CCG) – saw 25 keen-eyed competitors flock to take part.
With eight hours to see and record as many species of bird as possible within the boundaries of South Tyneside, the race proved to be a marathon rather than a sprint.
The winning team ticked off 84 different species, while two teams – who decided to compete on foot – each recorded an impressive 62.
Dougie Holden, a committee member for the South Tyneside CCG, said: “The day was a great success.
“We had eight teams in total, and 25 individuals taking part from 8am until 4pm.
“The winning team spotted 84 different species and we had two teams who decided to walk their entire route.
“They both got 62 recorded, which was very impressive, and came back with a few blisters on their feet.
“We had 89 different species recorded on the day.
“Everybody was in agreement that the highlight of the day was the sighting of a pair of glossy ibis in Boldon.
“They are quite rarely seen in the area.
“There were also sightings of waxwing, a peregrine falcon – which is quite a fabulous sight – and siskin, which is a type of finch and can be hard to spot.”
The decade-old race branched out this year, with teams also asked to make a visit to Whitburn Coastal Park to plant a rowan tree at some point during their day.
The winning team members – Andrew and Keith McAlpine and Graham Slesser – planted a tree in tribute to nine-year-old Jack Leggett, a relative of Graham’s who tragically died just before Christmas from a brain tumour.
Mr Holden added: “We had 50 trees planted on the day.
“The community and the surrounding wildlife will be seeing the benefits of that for some time to come.
“We may do the planting again next year, but may pick a different part of the borough for it to take place.”
The event, which started at 8am at Souter Lighthouse, was free of charge, thanks to funding support from Groundwork UK and the Big Lottery Community Spaces fund.