Cayman twitchers take top tally in Texas

| 02/07/2014

(CNS): A team of local extreme bird watchers won the Rio Grande Valley race to report the most species in a single day when they went to the Great Texas Birding Classic Big Day tournament in April. Although a rookie team when it comes to international competition, the Cayman Cowboys reported 178 different bird sightings. With sponsors pledging $1 a bird for the National Trust, the money will be spent at the Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary.

The team included founders of the Cayman Islands Bird Club Peter Davey and Michael Marsden, who have been birding for over 30 years; Stuart Mailer who leads the National Trust’s Mastic Trail tours and bespoke birding tours throughout Grand Cayman; and Christine Rose-Smyth, a Cayman administrator for the Cornell University citizen science project eBird.

Mailer said that while the team maybe new to competition it was experience and preparation had helped the Cowboys. “Michael’s knowledge of the local area and advanced scouting was invaluable, but ultimately it was a real team effort, with all four birders contributing to our list, while Michael’s wife, Donna Knox, kept track of the results,” he said.

The Great Texas Birding Classic, a month long event, is billed as the world's biggest, longest and wildestbird watching tournament statewide. Now in its 18th year it has awarded over US$800,000 to conservation throughout the Lone Star state as winners prizes goes towards a list of specific projects. 

Having won the most sightings category the Cayman Cowboys could choose from eleven Texas bird conservation projects to receive a grant of US$1,000. “The camaraderie of the park rangers and other birders we met during our week in Texas made each of those new life birds even more special,” Mailer added. “We were all agreed that the Friends of Estero Llano Grande State Park proposal would have the greatest impact for both the birds and birders in our final choice of project to support.”. 

The local National Trust will also benefit from the team’s success as sponsors of the 24 hour Big Day pledged $1 per bird, team leader, Rose-Smyth said, With funds raised the National Trust will be able to rebuild infrastructure at Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary off Spotts Newlands Road and create improved signage on the Mastic Trail to enable increased appreciation of Cayman’s richest biodiversity.

Pledges can still be made by contacting or Christine Rose-Smyth directly at or Stuart Mailer

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They took it and now they should give it back.  That's stealing and a tally costs a lot of money.