With exactly one month to go before we set off for Israel it is time to meet the team. The next few postings will be about each team member and their thoughts on birding and The Champions of The Flyways event.
We start with Samuel Perfect.
It’s amazing to look back and see what birding has done for me and how it has literally changed my life. I would never have imagined that it would dominate my time in such a positive way and be so enjoyable, diverse and challenging. I’m currently making the most of this opportunity by volunteering at North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory in Orkney for my third consecutive year, pursuing a hobby which I am truly fortunate to indulge myself in. Surrounding me are a group of equally enthusiast friends, some of whom will be joining me in Eilat for The Champions of the Flyway!
I started out like many with back garden birding, finding and enjoying the common birds frequenting my patch in Hertfordshire, little did I expect this simple process of observing and learning would encourage me to travel to Israel. It will be a great privilege to bird with our team the SpokesFolks as we will be competing entirely by green methods (i.e. by bike and foot). Having never traveled this far east in the world before I’m looking forward to seeing spring migrants I’m unfamiliar with and equally species I am familiar with from back home but belonging to a variety of different subspecies. These are famed for offering some extremely exciting identification challenges which are only recently coming to light.
I’m currently living on North Ronaldsay, Orkney, were auroras and northern varieties/subspecies of birds are a regular occurrence but there is still a fascinating link between the island and our adventure to the far south eastern Western Palearctic. Common visitors such as hirundines, pipits, wagtails and warblers will all feature on the island in a matter of weeks following their surge through Israel. This phenomenal undertaking is humbling when proof of their passage to and from these two countries is linked by ringing recoveries. By switching points on the compass I’m hoping to gain a greater appreciation of the diversity and spectacle of migration from the south and see how it compares with that in the other corner of the continent. This will hopefully give me ample opportunity to put my knowledge of common British birds to the test as I’m relying on this to offer a starting point around which I can attempt to figure out what I’ll be looking at whilst abroad. Am I watching the same birds passing through Israel as those arriving in Britain or am I looking at something very different, a far eastern subspecies that would otherwise have evaded my radar back home? Either case, I’m really looking forward to welcoming their return, having migrated successfully through the hostile environment of the Middle East all in order to breed in our lush green countryside that now sits so well ingrained in our phonological clock.
As previously mentioned, we’ll be competing in the event by bike/foot with the intention of minimising our carbon footprint. Given that this is particularly topical and that our excessive consumer habits are negatively impacting the very birds we enjoy to watch, I feel it is only moral for us to appreciate them in a way that brings least harm. This method of birding tests physical and mental abilities and one's level of commitment and the huge feel-good factor that comes with this is testimony to really working to find and see birds.