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‘It can’t happen again – if they win it three years on the trot, do they get to keep the cup?’

Pre-match nerves before BirdBrain 2016 while setting up ‘the stage’ and awaiting the arrival of the BTO team, which had swept the board in 2014 and 2015.

And here we were once more. Four teams representing some of the most experienced and well-stocked brains in Suffolk birding, with population data, i.d. details and songs/calls almost dripping from their ears as the equipment was tested.

With sound working, projector working, buzzers working (yes they are, Roy!),  Quiz Finder General Chris McIntyre took his seat and the lights dimmed for the semi-final draw.

Quiz Finder General Chris McIntyre

Quiz Finder General Chris McIntyre

Acorn Brown team

Acorn Brown team

First up was BINS versus Acorn Brown, a new team made up from the former RSPB Minsmere outfit, plus the National Trust. This draw, of course, meant that the previous two years’ finalists would be meeting earlier in the competition….

Semi-final questions featured rounds on ‘What bird is this?’; songs and calls; chicks and nestlings and natural history.

There’s a real science behind translating what you know in the field to identification in this environment;  sometimes what you know vanishes somewhere behind your head. A cool head, fast analysis and a quick buzzer finger is what you need, plus the ability to take things out of context. The experienced BINS team  came out on top on this occasion.

So to the re-run of last year’s final, as champions BTO took on the revised line-up of WBC under the captaincy of Roger Walsh, with Eric ‘D’Weasel’ Patrick and Lee Gregory joining Mike Marsh.

Same rounds, different questions and – whaddya know! – WBC won a tight contest and got one mandible back on the trophy.

So take your seats for the final…..

REFEREE!! Frustration for the Champs....

REFEREE!! Frustration for the Champs....

BINS Utd

BINS Utd

This was a real tester, with the ‘which bird is this?’ i.d. round being followed by trying to identify birds just by close-up shots of the eye, identifying East Anglian reserves from one photo, and naming the bird from population/breeding distribution maps. (Every year, I come out of these events thinking I’ve got to pay more attention to this stuff….)

It was tight….it was tense…there was conferring and even D’Weasel managed to whisper….clocks ticked…..but slowly, the home boys started to edge a lead and it ended with a narrow victory by 31 to 26 for WBC.

'I need an answer, WBC....' Tension mounts in the final

'I need an answer, WBC....' Tension mounts in the final

Of course, being East Anglian birders, there was no raucous chorus of ‘BirdBrain’s comin’ home,’ laps of honour, being carried to the bar shoulder-high: no – just a solid chuck on the shoulder, a firm handshake and a ‘well done, chaps!’ It just wouldn’t do to be too Latin about this kind of thing, would it?

So the final of the audience round, and 25 short clips of music with a bird name in either the title of the piece or the artist. Rock, folk, music hall, funk, pop and classical ensured an even spread, and resulted in the top eight audience scorers stepping up to the quiz tables to sort out the chicks from the 3rd winters….

Audience round Final

Audience round Final

The prize finally went to Peter Napthine, who received an equally hearty shoulder-chuck, firm handshake etc.

And that was that.

So, huge thanks to all involved:

The teams for putting themselves into the spotlight;

Chris (Quiz Finder General) McIntyre for another example of research, technology and devillry;

Kathy for supplying the prizes and another superb buffet (it’s worth the admission alone!)

The raffle prize donators and especially Jon Evans for including examples of his photographs;

Steve P for hosting the evening (although Graham Norton’s job is probably safe)

And all the other WBC committee members who contributed to another great evening at the Maltings.

Steve leads the audience in a rousing but tuneless 'Bye Bye Blackbird'

Steve leads the audience in a rousing but tuneless 'Bye Bye Blackbird'

The victorious WBC team - Roger, D'Weasel, Lee and Mike

The victorious WBC team - Roger, D'Weasel, Lee and Mike

PICS BY Sue Alderman (the good ones), Paddy Shaw (the others.....)