Monday, August 24, 2015

Birdfair affairs

This weekend I participated in the 27th British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water, better known as THE Birdfair. I was part of the Israeli Ornithological Center team, together with my good friends and colleagues Jonathan Meyrav, Dan Alon, Meidad Goren, Richard Melzack and Anette Ashton. We promote birding in Israel, and this year the event was amazing. For me personally is was a very special birdfair. First of all, for the first time my family came along with me. My wife and the kids participated in part of the many family activities at the fair most of the time, but it was great to have them around. Second, it is my first fair as a UK resident. Since I moved here almost a year ago I extended my network of friends and colleagues even further, and it was so good to meet up with so many friends. It was especially good to meet Facebook friends in person and create real friendships. Another important factor that made this year's faie special is the main conservation cause - to tackle illegal bird killing around the Mediterranean basin. I was personally involved in the preparation of the recently published BirdLife International report, describing the horrendous slaughter of birds in the region - at least 25 million birds annually! This year we focused our efforts to promote the Champions of the Flyway birdrace, that is part of BirdLife's campaign to stop the killing. 
On friday I participated in the traditional BirdLife reception to all BirdLife partners, held at the RSPB stand. It was a warm and friendly event, and I feel proud to be part of this family. Here are the relatively new BirdLife CEO Patricia Zurita and RSPB director Dr. Mike Clark talking about conservation and friendship:

We had our own event as well. On Saturday we launched Champions of the Flyway 2016, and announced that Birdlife Greece will be the recipients of the funds raised by the teams. So many friends and supported showed up to the event - it was awesome. Last year's Knights of the Flyway, Next Generation Birders, handed their prize, Swarovski SLC 10X42 bins to Birdlife Cyprus, that hopefully will help them with their fieldwork to stop the crazy hunting going on over there.

Personally I took part in many meetings alongside the fair, mainly to try and gain more support for the Champions competition. Hopefully next year's competition will be even greater than previous years, including this bloke who might come over, either in the BTO team or independently. My boys are great fans of Chris Packham, so I took the opportunity to take a family selfie. My boys are in heaven.

This is one of the most impressive events of the fair - the famous mural depicting the beauty of the Mediterranean region and its birds, that are threatened by hunting. Many artists work on this mural, here are Steve Cale and Jackie Garner:

I can't walk more than ten steps at Birdfair without stopping to chat with a friend. It is amazing. The networking is incredible, and the constant talk and interaction with friends and colleagues was quite overwhelming. But in the end lots of laughs and smiles made the effort well worth it:

I will meet many of the friends again in two weeks time at Migfest in Spurn, looking forward to that very much. Birdfair was great but there were not enough birds involved in it, mainly bird talk. On the lake there were Black tern and Great White Egret, and flying around some Yellow Wags, and Red Kites, but that's it more or less. News of an elusive Booted Warbler not far from home got me slightly itchy and twitchy towards the end - hope to connect with it tomorrow.
So till next year, chapeau and many thanks to the organizers, mainly to the legend Tim Appleton. It was a superb event, and i am already looking forward to next year!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Wasted brownie points

After a few very busy weeks managed to get out this morning. As always, I had only one bird on my mind (Greenish Warbler). Met up with Quentin and we headed out to Blakeney Point. It was one of those day that either you see nothing at all or find a mega. Today (again) we say nothing at all. The Point was as empty as it gets. The plantation was completely empty. The only proper migrant passerine we saw was a Wheatear. At least there were some shorebirds around - Whimbrels and Curlews, Turnstones, Knots etc. Out in the bay there was one Black Tern, some Common Scoters and along the beach a couple of Little Gulls were flying back and forth.

Northern Wheatear

Little Gull 2cy

We had just enough time for a quick look at Cley. There was an increase in shorebird numbers. As e walked in I got onto a group of Dunlins, among them I think I had a smaller peep, first look recalled a white-rump but then everything flew off and we couldn't relocate it. Shit. There was one Curlew Sand and two Wood Sands. I can't believe that I get even slightly excited by these birds, in a way that i digiscoped them. pathetic. I am becoming an average UK birder. And for a UK birder a day with Black Tern, Little Gull, Curlew Sand and Wood Sand isn't a bad day. So I guess it wasn't a total waste of brownie points.

Wood Sandpipers - digiscoped from a long distance 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Spurn Migfest coming up

With great pleasure I received a few months ago an invitation to participate in this fantastic event organized by Migration Festival team (Spurn Bird Observatory Trust, Westmere Farm, Birding Frontiers and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust). I have visited Spurn only one before, in late August 2008, and enjoyed birding there very much. I clearly remember the tens of thousands of shorebirds on the Humber:

Had a bumper seawatch  one afternoon with some super-sharp local birders - Sabine's Gull, Long-tailed Skua, Roseate Terns etc. 

I am looking forward to the weekend very much - surely both the birds and the people will make it a superb experience. I am giving a talk on Saturday night but the main action is during the day. 
Looking forward to meet up with old friends and of course meet lots of new friends.
See you there!