Israel is a haven for birds and birders alike. Israel during migration season is something else altogether. Down in southern Africa we don’t get to experience the …
TRIP REPORT: “CHAMPIONS OF THE FLYWAY”- A BIRD RACE FOR CONSERVATION IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL MARCH 2016
By Jason Boyce – Birding Ecotours
By now the Champions of the Flyway (COTF) bird race is well known across birding circles worldwide and is fast becoming one of the most prestigious 24-hour bird races in the world. Majestic mountainous landscapes, the vast desert plains of the Negev, passionate and enthusiastic birders from across the globe, and a movement of birds like no other all culminate into a thing of beauty that is the Champions of the Flyway!
We, the South African/Birding Ecotours team, were to be the only southern hemisphere team to take part in this incredible bird race, for the second year running – a great honor! This year our team consisted of Jason Boyce, Trevor Hardaker, Dylan Vasapolli and Andy Walker. Trevor and Jason participated in the 2015 race and could offer some advice on how not to do things in 2016. The race, like many other birding races, involves scouting in the days prior to the race day and then a 24-hour race day, midnight to midnight. Teams will set out to record as many species as possible (birds can be recorded on call as well as on sight) during this 24-hour period. The Negev desert and everything south to Eilat is considered the ‘playing field’.
March 26 Team arrival and scouting Eilat, Israel
March 27 Scouting Eilat, Israel
March 28 Scouting Eilat, Israel
March 29 Race day Eilat, Israel
March 30 Closing ceremony Eilat, Israel
Buildup and Scouting
Migration is an incredible natural phenomenon, and even after years and years of studying aspects of migration and witnessing bird migration over and over there will always be a sense of unpredictability about it! This is largely what brings about the excitement to birding in Israel – “Expect the unexpected”, as the catch phrase goes. Every year the teams make sure to arrive a little early so that they can begin preparations by visiting as many sites as they can within the playing field. Things can be very different from year to year – this was definitely evident to Trevor and Jason. We started off by checking out some of the sites in the North Negev, these included the famous Nitzana (best Macqueen’s Bustard site), Ezuz, Yeroham Lake, and Sde Boker. The northern region has some 30-35 species that you just can’t connect with in the south, and so it is recommended – by the Israeli “hotshots” – that doing both the north and the south on race day is a must!
Over the course of the next few days we visited almost every site that we knew about as well as a few new ones; the most noteworthy new site being the Se’ifim plains. These open plains situated to the north-west of Eilat in the mountains produced some excellent birds for us, including one of our most wanted, our logo species, Temminck’s Lark! Temminck’s Lark was hard to come by during the scouting days, and it was one of the species we ended up missing on race day.
Some of the other species that we recorded during the scouting days included the likes of Brown Booby, White-eyed Gull, Sandwich Tern, and Baltic Gull (L. f. fuscus, nominate Lesser Black-backed Gull, which are all treated as separate species for the COTF) all at North Beach. It was also incredible to see “migration in action” even among passerines, such as a Yellow Wagtail coming in off the Red Sea while we were sea watching!
Waders at K20 salt pans included Kentish Plover, Little and Common Ringed Plovers, Curlew and Marsh Sandpipers, Common Redshank, Little Stint, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, and Ruff. Other interesting finds during scouting were Red-necked Phalarope, Red-throated Pipit, many different subspecies of Yellow Wagtail, and Wheatear species ranging from the migratory species, like Northern, Isabelline and Black-eared, to some of the resident species, such as Hooded, White-crowned, and Mourning. One of our team’s best finds during the scouting period was that of a female Cyprus Wheatear – a lifer for most of the Bandits.
Before we knew it race day was upon us – we were ready … sort of. Just after midnight on Tuesday morning, the 29th of March, we set off to see how many species we could get. We fiddled around Eilat for a while, trying to pick up some water birds and gulls – we managed to scope White-eyed Gull in the ambient light of Eilat city as well as pick up species like Little Ringed Plover and Western Reef Heron! By the time it got light enough to really get going, we were hovering around 30 species. We decided this year to do things from South to North and therefore only get to some of the northern hot-spots by 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. The Se’ífim plains produced a few good birds for us in the morning, such as Cream-colored Courser, Bar-tailed, Greater, Lesser Short-toed, and Bimaculated Larks, Hen Harrier, and Common (Rufous-tailed) Rock Thrush. A quick stop here and there to pick up some soaring birds, and we were back down to bird the Eilat surrounds and the k20 salt pans.
Birding was good, and between the salt pans, the date plantations at K20, and some other waterbird spots we added most occurring shorebirds, including Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin, Water Pipit, various waterfowl, Collared Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, our 4th Eurasian Wryneck of the Day (!), Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Gull-billed Tern, Western Osprey, and Ferruginous Duck. Jason was in charge of making sure that we ran according to schedule, and, for the most part, we were pretty good at sticking to that plan. “C’mon lads, keep it up!” – these were the chants as we begun the long drive into the Negev!
We eventually made our way to the northern parts of the Negev – Sde Boker was particularly kind to us and produced almost all of our targets, and then some. The lookout area at the tomb of David Ben-Gurion held Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Lanner Falcon, Tristram’s Starling, Alpine Swift – and Nubian Ibex distractions! The surrounds produced some European species: European Greenfinch, European Robin, Common Blackbird, and then also Common and Thrush Nightingales, Common and Pallid Swifts, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Chukar Partridge, and European Turtle Dove. We were hoping to get to 150 Species before getting to Yeroham Lake (Which would be our northernmost site). Southern Grey Shrike and Eurasian Hoopoe were our 148th and 149th species, respectively, and that about 200 meters before the entrance to the lake. Yeroham Lake was great, and even though we only added another 10 to 15 odd species here it was certainly one of the highlights for us! Syrian Woodpecker played ball, as too did Sedge and Great Reed Warblers. Highlights at the lake were Cetti’s Warbler, two Spotted Crakes, and a female Little Crake. Of course we didn’t leave before notching up a ‘LEO’ (not Panthera leo, but rather a Long-eared Owl) calling away in some of the larger trees at around 8:00 p.m. On the long drive back news had filtered through of a Jack Snipe at Neot Smadar Sewage Ponds, and so the diminutive wader became the last bird that we added to our list for the day. What an incredible day, needless to say, we slept well!
The winning total this year (in the international race) was a seriously impressive 174 species, and the honors of the 2016 race go to the Arctic Redpolls from Finland, a huge congratulations to them! Second place managed 171 and third managed 164. The Bandits managed to squeeze out 163 species this year, and we were rather proud of that achievement. It placed us 4th overall in the international race (missing out on 3rd place and a podium finish by just one species!). It’s a ‘young’ race, and teams are still in the process of figuring out the best way to tackle it. Trevor Hardaker put it this way: “Doing well in this competition is not just about knowing the birds – we have some reasonable experience with these, so that is not really a problem at all. It’s not even about knowing the various birding sites – we have now gained valuable experience over last year and this year as to which sites produce which species, etc. It really comes down to strategy (as with any big day), and we are slowly, but surely, getting our strategy fine-tuned for this race. Even after this year’s race, our team had some discussions about what we would change for the next one that could give us just a little bit more of an edge in the competition.”
At the risk of being a little cliché, the real winners are undoubtedly the migrant birds! We received 13 Donations on race day itself, with a total of 188 donations during the course of the fund raising efforts. Our initial target set was to raise £3 000, and with your incredible generosity we managed to more than double that and raise £6 763.53 (roughly US$ 9 600 and more than R142 000 for our South African friends!). Over US$70 000 has now been raised in total this year – which is a COTF record! This money goes to the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOC), which now has a lot of work to do but some amazing backing to do it with. Congratulations, guys!!
One of the differences between the COTF and many other bird races across the world is the sharing of information. Information is shared freely and relentlessly throughout the race day, and this of course brings a whole new dynamic to the race! The team that is the most helpful, shares the most information, creates the most awareness, and makes the most noise about COTF are crowned the Knights of the Flyway. This year’s Knights went to the Way-off Coursers from the United States! The Way-off Coursers weren’t done there when it comes to awards; they were also the team that managed to raise the most money of all teams and so were crowned the Guardians of the Flyway as well.
On behalf of the Bandits, Birding Ecotours, South Africa, and, of course, the Hellenic Ornithological Society an extremely huge THANK YOU to all who have contributed in any way to this cause! There is still a massive amount of work to be done, so let us not stop here – onward and upward, as they say!
To our sponsors: “While we may not have been crowned with the award for the most money raised, you are ALL Guardians of the Flyway in our eyes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” – Trevor
Full Species list for Race day (29 March 2016)
|Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)|
|Egyptian Goose||Alopochen aegyptiaca||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Mallard||Anas platyrhynchos||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Northern Shoveler||Anas clypeata||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Northern Pintail||Anas acuta||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Garganey||Anas querquedula||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Teal||Anas crecca||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Ferruginous Duck||Aythya nyroca||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Pheasants and allies (Phasianidae)|
|Chukar Partridge||Alectoris chukar||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Sand Partridge||Ammoperdix heyi||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Common Quail||Coturnix coturnix||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Little Grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Greater Flamingo||Phoenicopterus roseus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Black Stork||Ciconia nigra||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|White Stork||Ciconia ciconia||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)|
|Glossy Ibis||Plegadis falcinellus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
|Black-crowned Night Heron||Nycticorax nycticorax||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Squacco Heron||Ardeola ralloides||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Western Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Grey Heron||Ardea cinerea||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Purple Heron||Ardea purpurea||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Little Egret||Egretta garzetta||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Western Reef Heron||Egretta gularis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)|
|Brown Booby||Sula leucogaster||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)|
|Great Cormorant||Phalacrocorax carbo||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Western Osprey||Pandion haliaetus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Kites, Hawks and Eagles (Accipitridae)|
|Egyptian Vulture – EN||Neophron percnopterus||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Griffon Vulture||Gyps fulvus||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Short-toed Snake Eagle||Circaetus gallicus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Lesser Spotted Eagle||Clanga pomarina||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Booted Eagle||Hieraaetus pennatus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Steppe Eagle – EN||Aquila nipalensis||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Sparrowhawk||Accipiter nisus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Western Marsh Harrier||Circus aeruginosus||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Hen Harrier||Circus cyaneus||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Black Kite||Milvus migrans||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common Buzzard||Buteo buteo||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Rails, Crakes and Coots (Rallidae)|
|Little Crake||Porzana parva||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Spotted Crake||Porzana porzana||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Common Moorhen||Gallinula chloropus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Coot||Fulica atra||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)|
|Eurasian Stone-curlew||Burhinus oedicnemus||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)|
|Black-winged Stilt||Himantopus himantopus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Spur-winged Lapwing||Vanellus spinosus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common Ringed Plover||Charadrius hiaticula||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Little Ringed Plover||Charadrius dubius||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Kentish Plover||Charadrius alexandrinus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)|
|Jack Snipe||Lymnocryptes minimus||Neot Smadar, HaDarom|
|Common Snipe||Gallinago gallinago||Neot Smadar, HaDarom|
|Black-tailed Godwit||Limosa limosa||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common Redshank||Tringa totanus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Marsh Sandpiper||Tringa stagnatilis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Green Sandpiper||Tringa ochropus||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Wood Sandpiper||Tringa glareola||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Little Stint||Calidris minuta||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Curlew Sandpiper||Calidris ferruginea||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Dunlin||Calidris alpina||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Ruff||Philomachus pugnax||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)|
|Cream-colored Courser||Cursorius cursor||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Collared Pratincole||Glareola pratincola||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Gulls, Terns and Skimmers (Laridae)|
|Slender-billed Gull||Chroicocephalus genei||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Black-headed Gull||Chroicocephalus ridibundus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|White-eyed Gull||Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Caspian Gull||Larus cachinnans||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Gull-billed Tern||Gelochelidon nilotica||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Caspian Tern||Hydroprogne caspia||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Sandwich Tern||Thalasseus sandvicensis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common Tern||Sterna hirundo||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)|
|Rock Dove||Columba livia||Eilat, HaDarom|
|European Turtle Dove – VU||Streptopelia turtur||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Collared Dove||Streptopelia decaocto||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Laughing Dove||Spilopelia senegalensis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Namaqua Dove||Oena capensis||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Barn Owls (Tytonidae)|
|Western Barn Owl||Tyto alba||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Scops Owl||Otus scops||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Long-eared Owl||Asio otus||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Egyptian Nightjar||Caprimulgus aegyptius||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Alpine Swift||Tachymarptis melba||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Common Swift||Apus apus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Pallid Swift||Apus pallidus||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Common Kingfisher||Alcedo atthis||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Pied Kingfisher||Ceryle rudis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Green Bee-eater||Merops orientalis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|European Bee-eater||Merops apiaster||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Hoopoe||Upupa epops||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Wryneck||Jynx torquilla||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Syrian Woodpecker||Dendrocopos syriacus||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)|
|Lesser Kestrel||Falco naumanni||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Common Kestrel||Falco tinnunculus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Lanner Falcon||Falco biarmicus||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)|
|Rose-ringed Parakeet||Psittacula krameri||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Southern Grey Shrike||Lanius meridionalis||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Woodchat Shrike||Lanius senator||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Masked Shrike||Lanius nubicus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Crows, Jays (Corvidae)|
|House Crow||Corvus splendens||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Hooded Crow||Corvus cornix||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Brown-necked Raven||Corvus ruficollis||Neot Smadar, HaDarom|
|Northern Raven||Corvus corax||Mitzpe Ramon, HaDarom|
|Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)|
|Great Tit||Parus major||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Penduline Tits (Remizidae)|
|Eurasian Penduline Tit||Remiz pendulinus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Desert Lark||Ammomanes deserti||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Bar-tailed Lark||Ammomanes cinctura||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Crested Lark||Galerida cristata||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Greater Short-toed Lark||Calandrella brachydactyla||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Bimaculated Lark||Melanocorypha bimaculata||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|White-spectacled Bulbul||Pycnonotus xanthopygos||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)|
|Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Pale Crag Martin||Ptyonoprogne obsoleta||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common House Martin||Delichon urbicum||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Red-rumped Swallow||Cecropis daurica||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Cettia Bush Warblers and allies (Cettiidae)|
|Cetti’s Warbler||Cettia cetti||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Streaked Scrub Warbler (Scotocercidae)|
|Streaked Scrub Warbler||Scotocerca inquieta||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Leaf Warblers and allies (Phylloscopidae)|
|Willow Warbler||Phylloscopus trochilus||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Common Chiffchaff||Phylloscopus collybita||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler||Phylloscopus orientalis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Wood Warbler||Phylloscopus sibilatrix||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Reed Warblers and allies (Acrocephalidae)|
|Great Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus arundinaceus||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Sedge Warbler||Acrocephalus schoenobaenus||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Eurasian Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus scirpaceus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Eastern Olivaceous Warbler||Iduna pallida||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)|
|Graceful Prinia||Prinia gracilis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Arabian Babbler||Turdoides squamiceps||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)|
|Eurasian Blackcap||Sylvia atricapilla||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Lesser Whitethroat||Sylvia curruca||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Eastern Orphean Warbler||Sylvia crassirostris||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common Whitethroat||Sylvia communis||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Spectacled Warbler||Sylvia conspicillata||Neot Smadar, HaDarom|
|Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae)|
|Tristram’s Starling||Onychognathus tristramii||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Common Blackbird||Turdus merula||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)|
|European Robin||Erithacus rubecula||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Bluethroat||Luscinia svecica||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Thrush Nightingale||Luscinia luscinia||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Common Nightingale||Luscinia megarhynchos||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Collared Flycatcher||Ficedula albicollis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Semicollared Flycatcher||Ficedula semitorquata||Neot Smadar, HaDarom|
|Common Redstart||Phoenicurus phoenicurus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Common Rock Thrush||Monticola saxatilis||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Whinchat||Saxicola rubetra||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Northern Wheatear||Oenanthe oenanthe||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Isabelline Wheatear||Oenanthe isabellina||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Black-eared Wheatear||Oenanthe hispanica||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Blackstart||Oenanthe melanura||Eilat, HaDarom|
|White-crowned Wheatear||Oenanthe leucopyga||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Palestine Sunbird||Cinnyris osea||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Spanish Sparrow||Passer hispaniolensis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Waxbills, Munias and allies (Estrildidae)|
|Indian Silverbill||Euodice malabarica||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)|
|Western Yellow Wagtail||Motacilla flava||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Grey Wagtail||Motacilla cinerea||Neot Smadar, HaDarom|
|White Wagtail||Motacilla alba||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Tawny Pipit||Anthus campestris||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|Tree Pipit||Anthus trivialis||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Red-throated Pipit||Anthus cervinus||Eilat, HaDarom|
|Trumpeter Finch||Bucanetes githagineus||Se’ifim Plain, HaDarom|
|European Greenfinch||Chloris chloris||Sde Boker, HaDarom|
|Desert Finch||Rhodospiza obsoleta||Mitzpe Ramon, HaDarom|
|European Goldfinch||Carduelis carduelis||Yeroham Lake, HaDarom|
|Buntings, New World Sparrows and allies (Emberizidae)|
|Ortolan Bunting||Emberiza hortulana||Yotvata, HaDarom|
|Cretzschmar’s Bunting||Emberiza caesia||Neot Smadar, HaDarom|
|IOC World Bird List 6.1 (January 2016)|
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In October 2017 Birding Ecotours tour leader and guide Andy Walker led a custom Pacific Tour around New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa. This custom tour followed our scheduled departure Pacific Tour itinerary, and the latest itinerary can be viewed here. The trip report is now online and can be found here. Below, Andy summarizes the trip and provides a few photos. Please visit our tour page for many more photos.
We had a great tour around several Pacific Islands this October. First stop was Grande Terre, the largest island in New Caledonia and home to plenty of endemics, several of which are totally astonishing, like Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove, Horned Parakeet, and the tool-using New Caledonia Crow. These are some of the most interesting, beautiful, and bizarre birds on our planet, and we enjoyed taking pictures and observing them all at length.
We also enjoyed spending time with numerous other endemics, such as New Caledonian Whistler, Yellow-bellied Flyrobin, Crow Honeyeater, White-bellied Goshawk, New Caledonian Myzomela, and Red-throated Parrotfinch.
Our second destination was Fiji. We spent time on three islands: Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, and Kadavu. Here we experienced real Fijian culture and weather and an assortment of exciting birds. Endemic parrots were a big draw with Masked Shining Parrot, Maroon Shining Parrot, Crimson Shining Parrot, and Collared Lory all spectacular birds. However, the shining parrots were outshone by the totally outrageous fruit doves with the following all seen well: Golden Fruit Dove, Orange Fruit Dove, Whistling Fruit Dove, and Many-colored Fruit Dove.
Orange Fruit Dove
It wasn’t all about the doves and parrots, though, with loads of other endemics seen well: Azure-crested Flycatcher, Vanikoro Flycatcher, Fiji Whistler, Sulphur-breasted Myzomela, Black-throated Shrikebill, Fiji Goshawk, and of course one of the main Fijian targets – Silktail.
Our final stop was a brief one on Upolu, Samoa, where we found some very nice birds during our short stay. Flat-billed Kingfisher was a big target, and we got good views of several birds. Other highlights included the showy Crimson-crowned Fruit Dove, Cardinal Myzomela, Blue-crowned Lorikeet, Pacific Robin, Mao, Samoan Whistler, and Red-headed Parrotfinch. It was also hard not to enjoy the sight of Buff-banded Rails walking around gardens and roadside verges out in plain sight and totally abundant!
Also while on Upolu we saw the graceful White-tailed Tropicbird and White Terns displaying over forests we were birding in along with a constant stream of Brown Noddies passing overhead taking a shortcut across the island. All very spectacular!
This Pacific Tour gives the perfect introduction into the region. Some great food, scenery, and people also accompany the wonderful birds and make for a great experience. A final word from Andy:
There is a lot of work to do on the taxonomy of many species in the region. Recent updates from BirdLife International hint at many proposed splits; however, we used the IOC taxonomy for our tour and so will have to wait whether any of these are accepted by the IOC.
We saw several subspecies across different islands in Fiji or the wider region, and many of these may be elevated to full-species status in the near future. Examples that spring to mind include the Fiji Whistler complex – we saw at least three very different subspecies on the Fijian islands we visited (these looked and sounded very different to each other – see the photos below of two of the three subspecies we encountered, one from Vanua Levu and one from Kadavu). Similarly, the Streaked Fantail on Grande Terre (New Caledonia) looked and sounded very different to those seen on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu (Fiji)… just some food for thought.
The trip list in the Trip Report is broken down to subspecies level so that we can keep track of any potential armchair ticks that may arise in the future!
Fiji Whistler – (Pachycephala vitiensis aurantiiventris) from Vanua Levu, Fiji
Fiji Whistler – (P. v. kandavensis) from Kadavu Island, Fiji.
Hottentot Buttonquail must be the most enigmatic of all of South Africa’s 18 endemics. Its world population is estimated …
The Champions of the Flyway is a mega-exciting 24-hour bird race (midnight to midnight on 25 March 2015), during which a bunch of teams (32 this year) compete …
Trip report: “Champions of the Flyway” – a bird race for conservation in southern Israel – March 2015.
Hume’s or Desert Tawny Owl (Strix [butleri or hadorami]) in the Judean Desert two days prior to the bird race. Image courtesy of Jim Lawrence, BirdLife International. Strix hadorami has only very recently been described to science (Kirwan, Schweizer & Copete, 2015), too recently for most authorities to recognize it yet. Bizarrely, there is now evidence it could be close to African Wood Owl, to which it sounds very similar.
The Champions of the Flyway is a mega-exciting 24-hour bird race (midnight to midnight on 25 March 2015), during which a bunch of teams (32 this year) compete to try and find the largest number of bird species in a single day. The playing field is southern Israel, from Eilat on the shores of the Red Sea northwards towards the Dead Sea and then west towards the Mediterranean, as shown on this map. From the southern point of the race area, at Eilat, four countries are visible – Israel itself, and then also Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The rugged walls of the Jordan Rift Valley tower above each side of Eilat. This is an exciting meeting point of three continents: standing in Asia, we’re within kilometers of Africa, and very close to Europe as well. This is a convenient land bridge for birds to migrate across en route between Africa and Eurasia twice a year.
Some great desert birds such as Hooded and White-crowned Wheatears, and a spectacular number of overflying birds of prey (brown eagles, buzzards, kites, harriers, sparrowhawks, and others), storks (Black and White Storks), and more can be found above the mountainous walls of the Jordan Rift Valley, which extends through Israel, Jordan, and Palestine.
James Curry of Birding Adventures TV was in Israel to film this epic bird race.
The three of us from the Birding Ecotours/South Africa team, at North Beach on the northern Red Sea, Eilat – also doing our bit for another conservation cause – “Save our Flufftails”: Birdlife South Africa has an ongoing project on the critically endangered White-winged Flufftail, which seemingly migrates between South Africa and its Ethiopian breeding grounds.
The Champions of the Flyway is not just for fun (although that it is!): the express aim of the 2015 race just completed was to raise funds to help stop the large-scale massacre of migrant birds on the island of Cyprus, which they visit on transit while they fly between Africa and Eurasia (see here for details about the voluminous slaughter of birds, both big and small, on this island).
Preparation, fundraising, and the build-up of excitement, January to March 2015
Our friends Meidad Goren and Jonathan Meyrav had been getting us excited about this epic race for well over a year (it all began at the 2013 British Birdfair, in fact), but finally (in early 2015) we had the honor of actually being invited to participate in the event! We, the South African/Birding Ecotours team, were to be the only southern hemisphere team to take part in this incredible bird race! We spent the next couple of months cramming – stacks of Middle Eastern birds to learn! And we used social media, Trevor’s southern African rare bird alert, the Birding Ecotours website, and our contacts to try and raise sponsorship for our team – ultimately to be donated to BirdLife Cyprus. We are absolutely delighted to announce that the South African team was often right at the top of the fundraising game, far exceeding our £3000 target and actually collecting well over £4000 for bird conservation, thanks entirely to our generous supporters, all shown below up to the end of March (when this report was written) – please note that you can still go to Just Giving and donate now, though – the birds very much need your help! We were neck-and-neck with two other teams in our fundraising endeavors – the three teams always being near the very top, generating some healthy rivalry that ultimately saw the birds getting more help than they would have otherwise. Only the Dutch Knights and the Birdwatch/Birdguides Roadrunners eventually ended up raising more money than we did. South Africans, along with our fans from other parts of the world, did us very, very proud. Thank you! Specifically, we’d like to thank each and every one of you shown at the end of this document.
Fundraising Summary: 144% of target
Total: £4,325.06 raised of £3,000.00 target (as of 29 March 2015)
The Eurasian Eagle-Owl near the airport in Tel Aviv
Pre-race scouting, 20 March
After touching down in Tel Aviv on the early morning and collecting our rental vehicle we went to a stakeout near the airport for Eurasian Eagle-Owl (the gen was provided by our friend Oz Horine), which Jason quite quickly located sitting on the walls of the quarry. We also found numerous other good birds such as our first of many awesome Sylvia warblers, Eastern Orphean Warbler. We then headed to Jerusalem, where we had a quick look at the old city, before continuing to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth (423 meters – 1388 feet – below sea level!). Jason decided to float on the very salty waters (34 % salt!), while Trevor and Chris just waded in. Around the Dead Sea we found some good birds, such as Tristram’s Starling, Fan-tailed Raven, and Desert Lark. An hour or so before dark we found ourselves only about 50 km north of our destination (Eilat), and we met up with Oz Horine (at Yotvata, a place we’d get to know rather well in the next few days). Here we birded a little with Oz before eventually joining an Eilat Birding Festival group to see Egyptian Nightjar (which we eventually got great views and photos of), also finding desert hedgehog in the process! Eventually, well after dark and rather exhausted after all the travels, we reached picturesque Eilat (our base for the next few days of scouting as well as for the bird race itself).
Egyptian Nightjar (Jason Boyce)
Pre-race scouting, 21 March
Today we learned many of the sites close to Eilat, starting at Holland Park with Oz Horine again. This is a brilliant wadi (dry river bed) bordering on Eilat, which is full of wonderful old world warblers (the three most abundant being Lesser White-throat, Common Chiffchaff, and Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, but also with a few other very good ones thrown in, such as Rüppell’s, Sardinian, and Subalpine Warblers). There were also good numbers of other high-quality species, such as Bluethroat, Sand Partridge, Arabian Babbler, etc. After birding this fine site we had a quick breakfast before heading into the mountains to look for overflying raptors (we found some good species, such as Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, and many others). Two nice Wheatears showed well – Hooded and White-crowned.
And it was good to meet the first of many fellow birders – Ben MacDonald from Bristol and also the Cape May Bird Observatory American Dippers team further up in the mountains. Throughout the day we also familiarized ourselves with other birding sites, including Km (kilometer) 19 and 20 (along highway 90 to the north) and the birdwatching/ringing centre, gradually adding new birds to our list and accumulating lifers along the way! We each got over 40 life birds while we were in Israel, in fact!
Rüppell’s Warbler– these pink-flowered bushes were crawling with Sylvia warblers! (Jason Boyce)
Pre-race scouting, 22 March
We continued birding around Eilat. One of the real highlights was Arabian Warbler marginally south of the now very familiar Yotvata – thanks to Meidad Goren. Meidad’s biggish group of Eilat birding festival folks were very kind to accommodate us – we arrived just as they had found the bird – as we literally jumped out of our rental car and ran to the group, saw the bird, and left almost as soon as we had arrived. Sometimes we sit and enjoy the birds we see, but this was not the time, as we still had tons of scouting to do (including a 6:10 p.m. “date” with Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse). We had lots to accomplish before the big day of the race, which we were getting increasingly nervous about. Nervous excitement mounted!
Pre-race scouting and spectacular owl/nightjar tour, 23 March
This was a big day (and a bit), starting at 3:00 a.m. and ending the following day just before 1:00 a.m.! We headed far to the northwest, all the way to Nizanna, where we picked up Macqueen’s Bustard (displaying – very, very spectacular!), Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, and a big stack of other mega-amazing birds – all found with the kind help of Meidad Goren. With a great many new birds under our belt we headed back to Eilat to prepare for our owl tour, starting at 3:00 p.m. Hadoram Shirihai accompanied us – the owl we were about to look for was actually named after him, Strix hadorami (Desert Tawny Owl). One of the leading pelagic bird specialists on the planet, Hadoram has also made a huge mark on his home front – the Israeli birding scene in general. We were in no ways disappointed, and it was great to see Hadoram himself genuinely spectacularly excited – the views we got of Desert Tawny Owl here in the Judean Desert were perhaps the best even the man himself had ever obtained!
“Oh, what a night.
Late March back in 2015.
What a very special time for me,
‘Cause I remember what a night
Oh, what a night.
You know, I didn’t even know the owl’s name,
But I was never gonna be the same.
What an owl. What a night”.
– we should all have sung this Frankie Vallie song (but were too tired, I guess, and had another MEGA bird to find).
Somewhere in the Judean Desert just above the Dead Sea….waiting for the owl to appear on the edge of the cliff face below us…! Photo by Jim Lawrence, BirdLife International
After obtaining brilliant views of Desert Tawny Owl we headed southwards back towards Eilat to look for Nubian Nightjar near the southern edge of the Dead Sea. After getting great views of this rare bird we eventually returned to Eilat close to 1:00 a.m.
Nubian Nightjar by Jim Lawrence, BirdLife International
(Very last-minute) scouting the day before the race, 24 March
We found quite a number of new trip birds today, and all the teams and organizers also met for a couple of hours to discuss the plan for the big day and to agree on the final bird list to use. We sat down with Itai Shanni (see here), who helped immensely. And we frequently pestered Jonathan Meyrav for information today and throughout our time in Israel.
25 March 2015 – the actual Champions of the Flyway Bird Race
On 24 March we ate an early, quick dinner and then headed to bed soon after 8:00 p.m., setting our alarms for the same night – 11:50 p.m.! Just after midnight, still trying to wake up, we headed to the race start line (the lobby of the hotel) and immediately had James Curry and team interviewing us for Birding Adventures TV (and cracking jokes!). It was quite a rude awakening, really, ha ha! Leaving the cameras “in the dust”, about ten minutes later we found ourselves at the birdwatching centre, where we heard a couple of shorebirds such as Common Greenshank, making them the first birds for our list. The Next Generation Birders then shared gen on a nearby Pallas’s (Great Black-headed) Gull, which we managed to see in the dull lighting of the streetlamps. This is a wonderful race, in which all the teams freely share information – and actually the Next Generation Birders won the prize for being the most helpful of all the teams and sharing the most gen. A Champions of the Flyway whatssapp group was created specifically for the purpose of sharing information between teams, in fact.
We then headed, in the dark, three hours to the north (Nizanna), stopping only at our Western Barn Owl and Long-eared Owl stakeouts (both at Kibbutzim). Our two owls were good news (as was Eurasian Stone-curlew), but we also got some bad news: just when it was too late, we got a group whatssapp message that a Eurasian Scops Owl had been heard at the Ben-Gurion Memorial – David Ben-Gurion was the founder and first prime minister of Israel – and this was going to be a recurring theme: pass a site, get a whatsapp that we had just missed something, get upset, and be forced to continue to find our next bird (because of very limited time!). We were unable to return for the scops owl because we had bustards, coursers, and sandgrouse to locate – we did quite well with those, thankfully, and also found stacks of other goodies. One of the real highlights was hearing the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G insect-like trill of a Savi’s Warbler.
Golden jackal distracted us and slowed us down a bit as we could not resist getting some photos. (Jason Boyce)
But we then got one incredibly big fright when the Palestinian Sunbirders sent a message to the whatssapp group just after dawn that they had over 100 species already (….while we were just managing double digits). Ha ha, actually we caught up pretty nicely later in the day, though, but this was an unpleasant surprise nonetheless.
Heading southwards, we managed to get ourselves an hour behind schedule. So we had to forfeit the Bonelli’s Eagle lookout. We did do various other sites around Sde Boker, though, which were very productive. Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Northern Raven, Alpine Swift, Common Swift (Pallid Swift eluded us today, even though it’s a fairly common bird throughout the race area), Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, and numerous others put in an appearance. Spotted Sandgrouse was a real highlight at the site that Meidad Goren very kindly had shown us a couple of days back (although at that point the stakeout lacked any sandgrouse).
Birding the Kibbutzim (the same ones we previously did in the dark just for owls) was very productive, generating Meadow Pipit, Cretzchmar’s Bunting, and many other new birds for this big day.
Racing further southwards, when we eventually reached the HaMeshar Plains, where we were hastily escorted back to the main road by the military, who told us that access to this area was currently not possible. Since we were behind schedule we were unable to substitute this habitat with the Uvda Valley further south, and thus missed a good number of species, such as Asian Desert Warbler and Temminck’s Lark, which lurk only in this arid plains habitat.
We did find that a major feature of this race was that there were simply too many species to target in 24 hours, so it was either a matter of doing fewer sites thoroughly, or a greater number of sites very, very fast and only birding them “on the surface”. We opted for the latter option, and by the end of the day we pretty much agreed that this was the best strategy, which will only need some tweaks we’d want to make for 2016 to try again to perhaps take the title of Champions of the Flyway! But well, we knew we were missing a couple of birds at each stop we made. A 48-hour race is something the organizers have in fact talked about, which would allow a more thorough treatment of the race area (although a 24-hour race must be much less tiring and would have my vote – despite not allowing anything but a peripheral treatment of the race area). Missing common and easy birds on the race day – such as Green Bee-eater (and in fact both other bee-eaters) drives the point home that we had to bird peripherally and not do any one site thoroughly at all.
Yotvata generated most of the target birds we had found during the scouting days, but since we were still badly behind schedule we had to rush this site too. Since we were “ahead” of most of the other teams (not necessarily in our bird count, ha ha, but in our travels southwards back towards Eilat – most teams started in the north and headed gradually southwards), we continued getting frustrating whatsapp messages such as “a Black Scrub Robin showing extremely well at Yotvata – beautiful bird!”. There was never time to turn back for anything, and neither was there time to stop for Arabian Warbler in the Acacia stakeout we had previously familiarized ourselves with!
Continuing, Km 19 and 20 generated stacks of new birds for the day, including wildfowl, gulls, terns, and shorebirds – including some single birds we managed to pick out (very luckily!). These singletons included Red-necked Phalarope, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, and Pied Avocet (along with more abundant waders such as Common Redshank, Ruff – a few of them starting to moult into breeding plumage, Kentish Plover, and stacks of others).
And pretty much we then headed back to Eilat, where we birded the productive wadi at Holland Park, as planned finding new birds for the day such as Sand Partridge (although that almost evaded us!). North Beach was next on our agenda, for the interesting-looking Red Sea endemic White-eyed Gull (which is Near-threatened), along with various other gulls, terns, and more.
After some desperate attempts for our bogey bird Green Bee-eater and a couple of other “silly misses” we had to race back northwards to get to Km 19 for the dusk appearance of Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse and were amazed to add eight birds to our list here, the highlight being Barbary Falcon. The sandgrouse came in on cue, while we spent quality time hanging out with a bunch of newly-made friends – almost all the other teams waited with us for the sandgrouse to wing their ways in.
Our final stop of the day was back in Eilat for Striated Heron, which unfortunately did not show itself, meaning we ended on a round total of 150 bird species. We are quite proud of this total, as it was our first attempt (we did not participate in the race in 2014). Among the international teams, the winning score of 169 bird species went to the American team, and we’d like to sincerely and hugely congratulate these star birders! Well done, Michael, Doug, Glen, and Jeff! Truly a great bunch of folks, who we enjoyed chatting to whenever we bumped into them during our time in Israel – see here for more details about this great team!
We saw Green Bee-eater virtually daily – except on the race day! (Jason Boyce)
What is a possible strategy for next year, based on what we learned this year? We think that next year we could get 170 species and perhaps even win (ha ha, if extremely lucky!). Apart from studying the stakeouts and species (especially the contact calls of overflying birds) better, we’d also tweak some of the plan for the race day. It’s probably not the best idea to be “ahead” of all the other teams in terms of position on the “race course”, as it means we dip on more of the reported species (on the whatssapp group). On one hand, it often does feel good to be “at the front” and to report the first owls, Savi’s Warbler, and more. But on the other hand, it does not feel good to be too late to “twitch” the Eurasian Scops Owl or Black Scrub Robin reported by teams “behind” us and speeding slightly less than us! In 2016, the biggest tweak would probably be adding Yeroham Lake to our route, as that seemed to add a big bunch of species to other teams’ lists (even if it means losing one or two other species because we would have to do all the sites we did choose to do even faster). Frustratingly, the copy of “A Guide to the Birding Hotspots of Southern Israel” by Shirihai et al. was waiting for us on arrival back home (thank you, postal service…..NOOOT!!). This book might certainly have helped a little, and we’ll certainly be reading it before next year’s event!
Every minute of this epic bird race was amazingly exciting, and one thing we did get very right was that we had FUN – stacks and stacks of it!
And it must be emphasized that conservation fund-raising was what this exciting event was all about – the real winner was the birds, as about US$50,000 was raised by all the teams, to be donated directly to bird conservation in Cyprus. The biggest “THANK YOU” is due to all the sponsors, of all the teams!
The group photo on North Beach just before the prize-giving ceremony – tired but happy birders these are!
After sleeping in a little we attended the excellent prize-giving and closing ceremony, once again giving us the opportunity to enjoy chatting to a great many new friends – the bonding that happened between all the teams was quite something to experience; any so-called “rivalry” was certainly friendly and pure fun! Thanks very much to all the local birders who so freely shared their knowledge with us, all the other international teams who did the same, and the organizers for making this an unforgettably spectacular event!
After lunch, we attended our first real Israeli bird twitch and finally got to see and photograph Black Scrub Robin (if not on the race day) at Yotvata before heading back to Tel Aviv for our early morning flight the next day. Tantalizingly, we also heard about a twitchable Grey Hypocolius, but sadly would only have arrived at its site after dark by the time we heard about this bird – one more potential lifer to return to Israel for in 2016 (although it’s a vagrant, oops).
We finally caught up with the Black Scrub Robin!
The Grey Hypocolius that Oz Horine photographed – the same one we sadly did not have time to chase!
Oz Horine and his team – this Israeli team came third overall, with 170 species (slightly ahead of the top international team). Oz shared lots of good gen with us before the race day.
Cheers and good birding – and we’ll be adding Israel bird tours under the Asian bird tour section on our website. Also, we have for several years now offered an “Owls of the World” birding tour to Israel.
See you in March 2016!
Spanish Sparrow was often-seen, but Dead Sea Sparrow did not “play ball” on the race day. (Jason Boyce)
Donation by Gibbs FamilyTrust on 25/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 24/03/15
To the birds!
Donation by Mags & PT on 24/03/15
Donation by Environmental Safety Systems on 24/03/15
Donation by Invuyani Safety on 24/03/15
Come on South Africa – show them on Wednesday
Donation by Robin and Sylvia on 23/03/15
Hope this small contribution is not too late . . .
Donation by Duncan Butchart on 23/03/15
Go Team South Africa!
Donation by The Intrepids on 22/03/15
All the best guys, go show them what SA is made of!!!!!
Donation by Anonymous on 20/03/15
On behalf of Dr Gary Cusins
Donation by Anonymous on 19/03/15
Donation on behalf of John Glendinning
Donation by Anonymous on 19/03/15
Good luck guys, will be following your progress with interest! Go Team SA!!
Donation by Hennie Peters on 19/03/15
Donation by Howard Rayner on 19/03/15
Donation made on behalf of Robbie Meier
Donation by Anonymous on 19/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 19/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 19/03/15
Good Luck! I hope this raises awareness in addition to the funds.
Donation by Jo Dreyer on 19/03/15
Donation by Cassia & Clive on 19/03/15
So hope your efforts can make an impact on this barbaric practice.
Donation by Judy Norton on 19/03/15
Donation by Tygerberg Bird Club on 19/03/15
To support the South African Team in the Champions of the Flyaway event in Cyprus
Donation by BRAD RIP on 19/03/15
Donation by Louis Wolfaardt on 19/03/15
Geniet julle challenge!
Donation by Ehren on 19/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 19/03/15
Donation by Johann Strauss on 19/03/15
Donation on behalf of BirdLife South Africa, Jacques Malan and Angela Dalziel in support of the South African team’s fundraising efforts.
Donation by Anonymous on 19/03/15
Donation by Liam Bebbington on 19/03/15
Donation by John ince on 19/03/15
Donation by Simon Valentine on 18/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 18/03/15
Good luck and well done in supporting this worthy cause
Donation by SA birder on 18/03/15
We wish you success with this endeavour
Donation by Oswald and Neil Dittrich on 18/03/15
All the best Chris, Jason and Trevor
Donation by John Tinkler- Aperture Wild Photography on 18/03/15
Good Luck Team SA – and lets hope this fundraising makes a huge contribution towards stopping the illegal hunting of migrating birds worldwide.
Donation by Ian M. on 18/03/15
Donation by Trish and Dave on 18/03/15
Go team SA
Donation by Anonymous on 18/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 18/03/15
Good Luck to you and good riddance to the poachers
Donation by Charles W Moore on 18/03/15
Donation by Salome Willemse on 18/03/15
An 80 year old pensioner wishes you well in a splendid task
Donation by Ian Jonsson on 18/03/15
Donation by Marcel on 18/03/15
Have a fantastic trip & thanks for raising awareness! Look forward to reading about & seeing photos of your exploits.
Donation by Tim Jobson, Cape Town on 18/03/15
Go Team SA
Donation by Geoff Lockwood on 18/03/15
All the best and success. Karoo Birding Safaris
Donation by Anonymous on 18/03/15
Donation by Audrey van Wijk on 18/03/15
Donation by Andrew Stainthorpe on 18/03/15
Keep the birds coming south
Donation by Charles Hardy on 18/03/15
Good luck – great cause
Donation by Gill J on 18/03/15
Good Luck to all of you
Donation by Mike Bridgeford on 18/03/15
Donation by Betsie Lategan on 18/03/15
Good luck Trevor, Chris & Jason!!
Donation by Jeff Curnick on 18/03/15
Donation by Stan Stanton on 18/03/15
thanks for the wonderful work you do
Donation by Philip Bredenahnn on 18/03/15
Do your best. Do what you can. Every single bird saved is worth the money.
Donation by Dave Underwood on 18/03/15
Donation by www.trackingthewild.com on 18/03/15
Good luck guys!
Donation by Peter Rosewarne on 18/03/15
Best of luck!
Donation by Colin Thornton on 18/03/15
Fly the SA flag proudly
Donation by Dave on 18/03/15
Wonderful work … much appreciated
Donation by Annette vd Merwe on 18/03/15
Good work BirdLife Team SA. Caring for our birds. Shelagh M.
Donation by shelagh matthews on 18/03/15
Donation by Walker on 18/03/15
All the best guys!
Donation by Lance & Hanneline on 18/03/15
Donation by Simon Peile on 18/03/15
Good Luck Trevor et al!
Donation by Jason McCormick on 18/03/15
Donation by Mariaan Scheepers on 18/03/15
Donation by Anton Ackermann on 18/03/15
Done – just don’t tell the Brits! 🙂
Donation by Chris Wormwell on 18/03/15
+ £2.50 Gift Aid
Well done. Enjoy your birding.
Donation by Ruth on 18/03/15
Donation by Lorraine duncan on 18/03/15
Good Luck Guys!!
Donation by Ian and Carol on 18/03/15
May our Children live to see our amazing birds because of the conservation work done today!
Donation by Anonymous on 18/03/15
Good luck team SA
Donation by Colin Soper on 18/03/15
Donation by Ian McCutcheon on 18/03/15
Donation to support the South African team’s fundraising efforts made on behalf of Robin Gray, Lesley Rae, Ingrid Weiersbye, Elba Swart and Sally Harris
Donation by Anonymous on 17/03/15
Good luck out there!
Donation by Colin Porteous on 17/03/15
Thank you for all the hard work, have fun as well as success in Israel. best wishes…margie
Donation by margie adcock on 17/03/15
Best wishes to the three of you and I am certain that you will do us all proud.
Donation by Cristian Cottino on 16/03/15
Good luck Chris and team – wish we were going to be with you but will be there in spirit…
Donation by Marine & Estuarine Research-Forbes’ on 16/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 16/03/15
Good luck guys. The Birds, Beasts and Bush club in Franschhoek is pleased to support you.
Donation by Robyn Kadis on 16/03/15
Well done guys – good luck
Donation by Yvonne Pennington on 15/03/15
Backing the South African team
Donation by Sylvia on 15/03/15
Good luck Trevor & the team
Donation by Margie & Barry on 15/03/15
Good luck Trevor and team
Donation by Greg Hudson on 15/03/15
Donation by Pat Haines on 15/03/15
+ £5.00 Gift Aid
Donation by Ann on 15/03/15
Good luck with the “Champions of the Flyway” chase
Donation by Owen Oertli on 14/03/15
Good luck for a good cause!
Donation by Bill & Mary Heck on 14/03/15
Best of luck, and thanks for helping out with this great cause!
Donation by Phil and Mimi on 13/03/15
a worthy cause good luck
Donation by bruce on 12/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 12/03/15
Good luck the three of you. Have fun and thank you for the great work you do in bird conservation – you make us proud!
Donation by Leonie Fouché on 12/03/15
Donation by John Bowman on 11/03/15
You go, guys, and above all, have fun!
Donation by Lucille Byrnes on 11/03/15
Good luck! And don’t forget to have fun at the same time …
Donation by Anonymous on 10/03/15
You need all the help you can get to stop this slaughter. Good luck to the team.
Donation by Stella & Simon Fogarty on 10/03/15
Wishing you the best of luck!
Donation by JvD on 10/03/15
Donation by Wendy Colley on 10/03/15
Good Luck Guys
Donation by Trygve on 10/03/15
good luck, I will double this if you win!! hope this is a good incentive
Donation by Pamela Isdell on 09/03/15
Donation by Garret Skead on 09/03/15
Donation by Mark & Maria Jones on 09/03/15
+ £5.00 Gift Aid
Go for it Trevor, Chris and Jason. 🙂
Donation by Michele Nel on 09/03/15
Go for it Trevor and team!! Good luck!!!
Donation by Die Paddavreters! on 09/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 09/03/15
Donation by Cheryl Leslie on 09/03/15
Do it for South Africa
Donation by Ineke and Peter Huggins on 09/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 09/03/15
Donation by Jacques van Wyk on 09/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 09/03/15
For the birds
Donation by Elly and Sjef on 08/03/15
Donation by Erik Nielsen on 06/03/15
Good luck, from California!
Donation by Jay Lamb on 06/03/15
Good luck and keep our flag flying. May this little donation of ours help.
Donation by Marilyn and Duke Metcalf on 05/03/15
Good luck and I hope this fund-raising effort manages to make a dent in the illegal hunting.
Donation by Will Goodlet on 05/03/15
For our birds
Donation by Anna on 04/03/15
Keep up the good work team
Donation by Michael,Irene,Ryan and Luke on 04/03/15
Best wishes to the Birding Eco -Tours Team
Donation by George Skinner on 04/03/15
Keep Birdlife SA’s flag flying high. Well done on your commitment,Trevor.
Donation by Pat Nurse on 03/03/15
Thanks to Trevor Hardacker for all he does for SA Birders
Donation by HowardL on 03/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 03/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 03/03/15
Donation by Dennis Cope on 03/03/15
for a wonderful cause!
Donation by christine read on 03/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 03/03/15
Go well guys, from all at Lawson’s Birding.
Donation by Leon Marais, Lawson’s Birding Safaris on 03/03/15
Good Luck and Best Wishes to Trevor & the South African Team come home safely cheers from Peter & Marie Dagg Hermanus Bird Club
Donation by Peter & Marie Dagg on 03/03/15
The Widow’s mite
Donation by Sylvia on 03/03/15
For our birds.
Donation by Colin on 03/03/15
We need to leave some of God’s awesome creation for our offspring
Donation by Ben Huddle on 03/03/15
Thank you for what you are doing for conservation.
Donation by Averil on 03/03/15
Donation by Anonymous on 03/03/15
Killing of birds through the Europe to Africa flyways, and back, and around the Med. is appalling. Here’s to a successful event to help make a difference and for our team Chris, Trevor and Jason
Donation by Mel Tripp on 02/03/15
Good luck with the race, and more importantly the fundraising target!
Donation by Nigel Voaden on 21/02/15
Hou Suid Afrika se naam hoog! Keep South Africa’s name high!
Donation by Pieter on 20/02/15
Donation by Simone on 15/02/15
I shall be looking out for news of you trip with interest and excitement. Fabulous destination
Donation by Gisela on 11/02/15
Donation by Anonymous on 06/02/15
All our very best wishes to Trevor Hardaker & the South African team
Donation by Anonymous on 06/02/15
GOOD LUCK !!!
Donation by Hedley Gerhardt on 04/02/15
For the South African Team
Donation by Dael on 01/02/15
Donation by Viv O’Neill on 30/01/15
Donation by Mike Clacey on 29/01/15
Donation by Mike Nyenes on 29/01/15
Donation by Margaret Hardaker on 28/01/15
My donation is for the South African Team
Donation by John Fincham on 28/01/15
Best of luck, Trevor Hardaker!
Donation by Wendy Miller on 06/01/15
Thanks again for your generous donations, including a $1000 one!
“The Champions of the Flyway” in Israel is not just a fun race for avid birders having a good time; it carries with it a strong message that appeals to bird lovers and naturalists everywhere …