Less than six weeks to go before we, The SpokesFolks team and I, set off for the Champions of The Flyway event in Eilat, Israel.
Now the event is in aid of Doga Dernegi, Birdlife International, Turkey.
Taking the text from the Champions of The Flyway website :
We are proud to announce the new conservation cause for 2017. This year we have chosen to work with Doğa Derneği (Birdlife in Turkey) focusing once again on the illegal killing of birds on migration.Doğa Derneği have proposed several projects all aiming to deal with illegal persecution of migrant birds.
Because of its geographic location Turkey is a natural choice and it give us great pleasure to be able to work together to protect birds that share the East Mediterranean flyway. In the upcoming weeks we will provide more information on the specific projects, our goals and the actions that will be taken to hopefully make a change on the ground.
Doğa Derneği has proposed some very exciting projects to be implemented on the ground, which we believe can make a real difference in the battle against illegal trapping and killing.
Doğa Derneğiis already doing significant things on the ground both through education and enforcement. With the help of the 2017 Champions of the Flyway campaign they intend to “step up” the actions especially in the Anatolia region. The region is a very important bottleneck for migrating raptors and other soaring birds and sadly large numbers of these are killed illegally as they migrate to and from the breeding grounds.
Doğa Derneği have some important projects lined up for the areas of Urfa, Birecik, the Hatay Amanos mountains and “lakes region” to ensure safe passage for migrants. The actions will be mainly educational, helping the people of the region to understand the importance of keeping the flyway safe. The projects will include youth activities to train the young generation to become birdwatchers instead of hunters. Doğa Derneği already has significant success with similar programs in the Urfa region involving local conservation groups and volunteer game wardens.
Another interesting goal we aim to achieve is to deal with the changing approach to nature with the arrival of huge numbers of Syrian refugees. The welcome refugees have no awareness and knowledge about Anatolia’s nature and conservation laws. Doga will be in the field working with the newly arrived refugees in order to educate and “open the eyes” of the newcomers to the beauty and importance of nature. Doga already has concrete action plans to reach 3000 families in the region through the children, to ensure the safe passage of migrating birds.
We believe that the 2017 Champions of the Flyway campaign is one of the most exciting and important projects to date. Through birds we will once again transcend political boundaries to work together for the protection of nature. Birds indeed know no boundaries, and it is up to us to speak up and protect them because they deserve to fly in peace!
Back in 2011 I went on a holiday for two weeks to Anatolia, Turkey. Sleeping in the car most nights, I visited any bird and ancient historical sites. I remember one night particularly vividly as I was awoken by a group of a dozen or so heavily armed soldiers! They wanted to know why I was asleep in a car far from a main road and asked whether I was trafficking guns. My notebooks, field guides, binoculars and telescope proved my real intention and I ended up having breakfast with them at the barracks.
This was in Northern Anatolia, near to Dalyan Golu, east of Bandirma. Black storks, lesser spotted eagles, nightingales and hawfinch were seen here and a large tortoise.
From here I went to Turkey's first ever National nature reserve, Kus Cenetti. I fell in love with the place. A tall tower overlooking an immense lake, birds were everywhere, Dalmation and White Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, egrets and herons, crakes and waders, ducks and gulls and lots of migrating warblers, in facts hundreds of migrating warblers. Every tree and bush had them together with woodpeckers and shrikes. The woodland adjacent to the lake was full of passerines.
The reserve had a visitor's centre which was in need of a little tender loving care. The gardens around it though were immaculately kept.
Exploring the reserve and nearby village with its fields full of wagtails and pipits, I saw lines of large birds arriving from the west, silhouetted by the setting sun; white pelicans, hundreds of them. Lines of undulating large pelicans came past me at head height as I watched from the high vantage point of the tower hide.
What I saw there during a wonderful two weeks has left me with a passion for Turkey, not just the birds but also for the Turkish people. To support them via the sponsorship and taking part in the Champions of The Flyway event is a pleasure and privilege.
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