Tuesday 23 January 2018

68 Days until BB 2018 - Peru and thoughts on Champions of The Flyways

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 :

Award winners and Flyway Champions:

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 BIOM (Birdlife Croatia) and the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia (Birdlife Serbia) 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 :

The COTF is a wall and barrier breaker in 

many ways. It is a fund raising event that seeks to 

prevent the illegal killing of millions of birds along the 

Flyway. With no regard to political and other 

boundaries, the funds raised go to where they are 

needed most. 

It is a meeting point between birders from different 

countries and birding cultures. A major event that 

introduces birders and nature conservationists, from 

places and backgrounds that are in need of help and 

support, be that technical, financial or even just 

recognition, to other conservation and birding 

organizations that can give them a hand. It is friendly, 

family-like and it is open for all.

The Palestine Wildlife Society, Mahmiyat.ps, and 

Palestinian individual birders, not only chose to take 

part in this event year after year but do so within a 

joint Palestinian-Israeli team. This participation came 

naturally to them. Yes, Palestinians participate despite 

the occupation and all are looking forward to 

Palestinian independence but until then, all 

participating birders appreciate our help and 


All keep their passion for nature conservation higher 

than their political struggles and thoughts. 

Participation for Palestinians means global recognition 

in a Palestinian independent conservation effort and 

this brings all sorts of help from BirdLife partners, 

such as community renovated optics from the 

Netherlands. The equipment from other partners and 

all international connections bring many benefits that 

we Palestinians will most surely use whenever the need 


Noam Weiss, Director

International Birding and Research center,


Israeli Ornithological Center

Society for The Protection of Nature in Israel

Now a Green Birding event, as may be seen in the winners list above, involved teams that either cycled or walked. The winning team, The SpokesFolks was comprised of three amazing young birders who work at the wonderful North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory in Orkney, Scotland UK.

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.

It tells of my Biking Birder Adventure and is the first of a series

of four books.

At the moment it is available on Kindle only and a paperback

version is imminent. Please click on the link below to access a

purchase page ; 

artwork for the paperback version to come by Steve Cale

So, time to head south. Tomorrow more details on the Biking Birder Adventure 2018 - Peru.

Have a fabulous day wherever you are.

Love to you all,

Gary xx

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