With the deadline approaching for the revitalized Great Texas Birding Classic (17th Annual) for 2013, the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce’s birding enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting the results.

The two Chamber sponsored teams took to the skies over the past two weeks to count birds for the event. The Uncommon Terns competed in the Gliders Regional Big Day Tournament which is geared specifically for young birders ages 14 –18. Since they were the only team in this category, they automatically will be the winners. Members of the team included Eric Anderson, Kyle Jones, Charlotte Ramsden and Trevor Truax, who were chaperoned by Joan Holt and Julie Findley . “These young birders have become very adept at identifying the birds and amazingly spotted 137 species during their day long effort” stated Holt and Findley, who have trained the students over the past few years. This tops their last year’s number of 102 species.

During the Central Coast Big Sit! Tournament, the Port Aransas Spoonbills recorded 125 species at their designated spot at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. “It was a phenomenal day! The migrants were swarming everywhere as a result of the fallouts from the cool fronts that keep blowing in” stated Ann Bracher Vaughan, President/CEO of the Chamber. This contributed to an increase of 49 species over last year’s count. Whether the team placed will not be revealed until the Awards Ceremony scheduled for June 1. There were four other teams competing in the Central Coast division of this category. The team included veteran members Tony Amos, Mikael Behrens, Suzette Freeman, Joan Holt, Scott Holt, Georgia Neblett, Bobby Sherwood and Ann Bracher Vaughan. Councilmember John Price joined the team this year and “was absolutely amazed at the number of species that he never knew existed as well as the number of birders that visited the center during the hours he was there.”

Vaughan said that she is extremely proud of the fact that the Chamber has participated in the Classic since its inception in 1997 and all the teams they have ever sponsored have placed every single year. “Quite a record” according to Shelly Plante, Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks & Wildlife.

The Great Texas Birding Classic was expanded into a statewide tournament this year after it was revamped by Texas Parks & Wildlife. Traditionally held in the springtime each year, the Birding Classic helps bring about bird habitat conservation, increases public awareness of Texas bird diversity and promotes community nature tourism development. For more Great Texas Birding Classic information, please visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife website.