Champions of the Flyway 2017

A big event is coming closer! Champions of the Flyway 2017 will take place place on Tuesday March 28th.. All birding teams are also competing to raise the most conservation funding to help stop the illegal killing of birds in Turkey. The donated money goes directly to this cause and the winning team will be crowned Guardians of the Flyway 2017. Leica Sport Optics is proud to sponsor the Victorious Bird Nerds (VBN) this year. We interviewed Gert Ottens of VBN about the upcoming event.


Magic over the Negev (part 1)

A young Steppe Eagle in warm brown tones scans the horizon from side to side before launching skyward. Leaving its nocturnal roost as early morning light floods the valley, it slowly flaps and glides northward along the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. The lone bird reaches the windswept ridges here and rises quickly entering the river of birds already aloft. Such is the nature of a spring day in this part of the world. Black Kites with long, thin wings are able to take advantage of even the slightest stir of air. So as usual, they have led…

Champions of the Flyway – Team “Dutch Knights”

It is perhaps the most fascinating phenomenon in the birding world, but unfortunately not without dangers – bird migration. And Eilat in Israel is one of the best places in the world to experience this spectacular phenomenon. It should therefore come as no coincidence that here, again for the third time, the international bird conservation event Champions of the Flyway is organized to raise funds for the protection of migratory birds during their long journeys. On 3/29 2016, a passionate group of birders from different nationalities compete in teams for the title of Champions of the Flyway (COTF) in an…


Forging Champions

In August 2013, my friend Jonathan Meyrav of the Israel Ornithological Center approached me at the British Bird Fair & first told me of the Champions of the Flyway. A fantastic new bird race (or Big Day) to benefit bird conservation along the flyways between Africa & Eurasia. The event would be modeled after Cape May Bird Observatory’s acclaimed and long-established “World Series of Birding“. The brain child of Pete Dunne in 1984, WSB has raised over $9,000,000 for conservation causes (mostly in the United States) since its inception. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a Big Day is a 24 hour event in…

Champions of The Flyway – Team Extremadura

In 2016 a team of expert birders is being formed by members of Lonely Birder in conjunction with The Urban Birder.

Cape May Bird Observatory’s American Dippers

In March 2015, the Leica / Cape May Bird Observatory “American Dippers” achieved the improbable, when we returned home from Eilat, Israel with the coveted Champions of the Flyway cup in hand. While less familiar with the Eastern birds, we carried the experience of well over 100 individual big days between us and we maximized daylight scouting hours, leaving the hotel pre-dawn and returning long after dark each day. More importantly though, we were among the top earners of conservation dollars among the COTF teams and added in kind by donating our top prize to Birdlife Cyprus to use in the fight against…

Champions of the Flyway Part IV: The Race is On!

It was the morning before the race and our intention was to scout the immediate Eilat area and formulate the final part of our route. We started at Ofira Park in town where we could check the potential and look for the White-throated Kingfisher that had been reported here, while also grabbing some well needed coffee. The coffee was a success at least! Then on to Holland Park where we trudged around in a mostly exhausted state looking at the numerous “Sylvia” warblers here. We’d see many Lesser Whitethroats, Eastern Orphean & Rueppell’s Warblers here, but we’d been working the area for…

Champions of the Flyway Part III: Piecing it Together

This is part three in a series of blog posts about the Champions of the Flyway event, an annual bird race (big day) for conservation held in Eilat, Israel. A true international event, birders from all over the globe are coming together to make a difference during Champions of the Flyway: a bird race that is making a difference. March 25, 2015 was the second annual Champions of the Flyway race with international teams of birders trying to see (or hear) as many species of birds as possible, all the while highlighting and raising funds to support a global conservation effort. In 2015, Leica…

Champions of the Flyway Part I: A Race With a Cause!

This is the first part in a series of blog posts about the Champions of the Flyway event. A staggering 2,500,000 birds are illegally hunted, trapped and killed on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus each year. Birders from all over the globe are coming together to make a difference during Champions of the Flyway: a bird race that is making a difference. March 25, 2015 was the second annual Champions of the Flyway race. International teams of birders tried to see (or hear) as many species of birds as possible, all the while trying to find as many donors as they possibly could…


Monitoring Migrations in Israel

Hello from sunny Eilat, Israel! I’m out here this spring taking part in the intensive bird monitoring efforts put on by the Israeli Ornithological Center, and the International Birding and Research Center, Eilat. I’m participating in the survey side of things, rather than the banding (ringing for all of our Old World friends!) operation that constitutes the other major portion of the monitoring. This means I’m up in the Eilat Mountains 4-5 times a week counting large diurnal migrants (mostly Raptors, but also things like Storks, Pelicans, and Cranes).   The other 2-3 days a week I’m off doing general…