In 2016 a team of expert birders is being formed by members of Lonely Birder in conjunction with The Urban Birder.
We are being sponsored by the Department of Tourism at the Regional Government of Extremadura (Spain) and suported by the Israel Ministry of Tourism and Leica to take part in the third 2016 Champions of The Flyway, a well-known bird race which takes place annually in Eilat (Israel). This year’s race is on the 29th March. Funds raised will go to the fight against the illegal hunting of wild birds on migration in Greece.
Extremadura is one of the top birding destinations in Europe. Its low population and large private estates ensure the key dehesa (evergreen oak habitat) and Mediterranean woodland is relatively well conserved. The region is also an important migratory flyway for millions of Western Palearctic birds heading to the 14 km Strait of Gibraltar to cross to Africa. We sympathise with the indignation felt at the slaughter of migrating birds in the Eastern Mediterranean, and we support any moves to better protect migrating birds in the area. We are keen to learn steps we can take to protect birds in the western Mediterranean. The worrying Turtle Dove situation is just one of the areas that needs attention in Exremadura and Spain, as well as in northwest Africa. We salute Champions of the Flyway and we’re ready to do our bit!
Meet the Team Extremadura!
Marc Gálvez (Onaga Birding, Lonely Birder). Extremadura, Spain:
“When my grandparents were young, they moved from a small town in Extremadura to Barcelona (Spain), where I was born. My passion for nature, especially for birds, opened my eyes during summer return trips to Extremadura. Half a century later, on graduating in Biology, I decided to do a return migration to the home of my ancestors. Although my link with Catalonia is still alive (at least as a member of the Catalan Rarities Committee), my home is located now in the heart of this exceptional corner of Spain, where I spend most of the year trying to increase Extremadura’s birdlist by finding new rarities in the region. I’m still deeply involved on bird conservation projects such as leading the Lesser Grey Shrike Conservation Programme in Spain or the reintroduction of the Eurasian Black Vulture in the Spanish Pyrenees. But also as a bird guide in Spain and in the rest of the world through our companies Onaga Birding & Onaga Neotropical. I also run the Lonely Birder website, a place where birders can get practical information to make their birding trips as successful as possible. So as you can see, migration is in my veins and maybe that’s why I’m so excited to be part of the Champions of The Flyway.”
José Guerra (Onaga Birding, Lonely Birder). Extremadura, Spain:
“I’m a passionate naturalist from Extremadura, one of the most biodiverse bird regions in Europe and my homeland. I work on conservation and reintroduction projects for threatened species. I also work along with Marc as a naturalist tour guide in our company Onaga Birding. My passion for tracking down fauna on different continents has led to me setting up the Lonely Birder website which we think will become a vital tool for any birder planning their next trip.
As the Iberian peninsula is another well-known flyway for many migrating species from western Eurasia to Africa, I’m especially concerned about the illegal hunting in the Mediterranean. So, although this will be my first visit to Israel, I’ll try to do my best involving in this project.”
Fergus Crystal. Extremadura, Spain:
“I was born in Dundee, Scotland and was soon pouring over bird books instead of children’s stories at bedtime. When I was 12 my family moved to highland Perthshire. My neighbour, Wendy Mattingley, an exceptional birdwatcher, taught me everything I needed to know about bird calls, courtship and nesting behaviour and how to memorize trails over great distances. As soon as I could, I started to travel, basing myself for long periods in different areas, keeping records and ocassionally publishing articles. I’ve spent six months or more in the U.S., southern Africa, Central and South America, Kazakhstan, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan.
I worked as a volunteer at Gamla reserve in Israel in 1999 and extended my stay to spring 2000 as a volunteer in Eilat. I now live in Extremadura, Spain where I worked as a field technician on Montagu’s Harrier projects. Recently, I have been studying Extremaduran flora. I am really pleased to be coming back to Israel after so many years and curious to see how the Eilat area has changed. I’m proud to be representing Extremadura as a team member for Champions of the Flyway this year and I hope our participation will bring more interest and support from our neck of the woods (steppes!).”
Vanesa Palacios. Extremadura, Spain:
Vanesa Palacios is a well-known figure within the European birding scene. She is responsible for developing nature and birding tourism in Extremadura, Spain, her homeland and one of Europe’s premier birding destinations. Vanesa also co-ordinates the Birding in Extremadura Club (www.turismoextremadura.com) and in her role in the Extremadura Tourism Department she has organised international ornithological conferences, tours, events and promotional campaigns in Extremadura and worldwide. Vanesa is a bright, vivacious cornerstone to Team Extremadura at this year’s Champions.
David Lindo, The Urban Birder:
“Also known as The Urban Birder, I am the author of countless articles on urban birds for many websites, publications and magazines including Nature’s Home the RSPB’s membership magazine. I also write a monthly urban birding column in Bird Watching Magazine, the occasional piece for BBC Wildlife Magazine and am a fellow member of the International League of Conservation Writers. I’m the author of The Urban Birder published in August 2011 and Tales From Concrete Jungles published in June 2015.
I’m a television presenter on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 in the UK as well as other TV channels around the world including CBS and CNN in the United States. My radio work is extensive ranging from slots on BBC Radio 4 to many other stations all over the world. I am also a well-respected public speaker. I was recently voted the 7th most influential person in wildlife by BBC Wildlife Magazine and was the man behind Britain’s Vote National Bird Campaign that attracted mass media attention and nearly 250,000 votes.”