Last year, back in March, The Champions of The Flyways event took place in Eilat, Israel. This 24 hour, midnight to midnight, bird race brings together birding teams from around the World with two aims; to raise money for Birdlife International and to compete for the coveted title of Champions of The Flyways.
The winners last year were The Arctic Redpolls from Finland. In fact there was actually a plethora of winners as different categories of competing brought different elements to the race.
Here are the winners :
The Champions of the Flyway – The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls – with 181 species
The Guardians of the Flyway – The Birding Ecotours Youth Africa Birders – €8835 raised
The Knights of the Flyway – The Birding Ecotours Youth Africa Birders
The “Green” Champions of the Flyway – The Spokes Folks – 122 species
The Israeli Champions of the Flyway – The Wallcreepers – 181 species
The Israeli Guardians of the Flyway – The JBO Orioles – close to 9000 NIS raised
Teams came from many different countries and raised $65,000 for Birdlife International in Turkey.
This year the event will be supporting Birdlife International's work in Croatia and Serbia. As it states on this year's event webpage . . .
The Champions of the Flyway project is back and stronger than ever. We are proud to continue waving the flag of bird conservation along the Flyways. Following a great campaign in 2017 in which we raised over $65,000 for projects tackling the illegal killing and trapping of birds in Turkey and for projects in Israel, we are happy to team up with to try and tackle the burning issues of illegal killing and trapping of birds along the Adriatic Flyway.
25 million birds are killed every year around the Mediterranean region and each year COTF supports the work to try and prevent some of this slaughter from happening.
Another very important aspect of the event is the way it brings people together. It is a vital part of COTF that teams come from the USA and China, Britain and Finland but also that Palestinians participate and that there are joint Palestinian - Israeli teams. This fact reminds me of the incredible Women's Peace march that took place in October last year. Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women marched through the desert, united in their demand for peace.
Noam Weiss, a Palestinian organiser of the COTF says :
Together with the fantastic NRBO trio, with Erin Taylor, George Gay and Samuel Perfect, was an older birder, young at heart, in other words myself.
The pride one feels when three young birders who exemplify a true birding attitude and spirit, who bring youth, vitality and superb knowledge, field skills and commitment to an event of such immense importance, is at times over whelming.
To be with them on the winning rostrum as applause rang around the large conference room was something none of us will ever forget.
We hope to be able to take part this year, to return to try to repeat last year's performance . . . or even beat it!
At the moment we haven't been able to raise enough money to go, we need about £1,000 more. I pay for myself but the three youngsters, who are either volunteers at North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory, or staff do not have a lot of money and rely on people helping them.
OK. I hope the next time I write up the blog I will have better news about our participation but until that please have look, or better still buy my book, The Biking Birder 2016 - The Quest for 300.