The 2006 Gotong Royong Bird Race: The results
Just a follow-up note to say that the post-bird race gathering was held last night and everything was made official through the announcement of results by the Arbitrator.
The gathering was a low-key affair in comparison to previous years. No NSS President or Vice-President in attendance; no VIPs; no sponsers; just a quaint little group of bird racers and bird group members....though even here there were a few notable absentees. It was held in the open-air section of the new Taman Serasi food court at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, with members of the public at adjacent tables. We purchased our own dinner and chit-chatted amongst ourselves.
After dinner, the Arbitrator, Kenneth Kee announced the results, along with a few tid-bits from the race. My team, STRIX, won with a brand new record score of 159 (5 more than the previous record of 154 set in 1991!). The Eagles, led by Lim Kim Seng were 2nd with 125 and the Oriental Cuckoo, led by Ding Li, were 3rd with 105. There were 4 other teams taking part for a total of 7 teams (last year there were 12 teams). We were also the first team to reach 100 birds at 1137hrs while the Eagles reach their 100th bird at 1400hrs and the Oriental Cuckoo at 1855hrs. Unfortunately, neither the challenge trophy or the Century Shield were presented as they had been misplaced! There were no prizes or tokens too, so it was just an announcement of results.
The bird of the day was an Oriental Plover seen at Changi by Ding Li and his team, the 5th Singapore record. Other goodies claimed by teams on the day included Rufous-bellied Eagle, Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Caspian Tern and Common Kestrel. There were also a few species that the Arbitrator mentioned were strangely missed by all teams on the race but most of them, in my opinion, are not bird race regulars. Some do not normally show up until November while others are genuinely scarce. The exception is the Yellow Bittern which is very late this year and I have yet to see one this season despite the fact that they are usually present in numbers during October.
This year's concept, as race organiser Alan OwYong mentioned, was a "Do-It-Yourself" Bird Race. Teams could start and end whereever they wanted to and were then given 2 days to prepare and submit forms and notes online. It is a novel and interesting idea but unfortunately it attracted far fewer participants. My personal feeling about it is that there was a lack of excitement and closure which comes with having to submit your results to an Arbitrator by a specific time at the end of the race and then this is followed up with the results being announcement a couple of hours later. A compromise may be to have the race on the Saturday (maybe even midnight to midnight) and then giving teams up to noon Sunday to submit their results online (allowing a good night's rest in-between). This can then be followed-up with a dinner gathering on Sunday evening (allowing the Arbitrator all afternoon to sort out the submissions), with the results announced and awards presented after. This would be better than having to wait a week.
Anyway, I am glad that the results are finally announced and the new record is acknowledged. The lack of trophies and tokens being presented is not important. As this is a competition and a bunch of teams took part against each other, there must be a result and it must be announced. This has been done and a new record is in place for future competitions. As for me personally, I will continue to try and take part each year (it's fun) but perhaps at an easier pace.
29th October 2006
Congratualtions is in order as the Strix team, besides winning the 2006 Gotong Royong Bird Race, broke the record set by Lim Kim Seng in 1991 with 5 more sightings. Well done, Subaraj. And this reminds me of a story...
Image by Joseph Lai.