Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Tomorrow We Fly . . . Champions of the Flyway .... The SpokesFolks are on their Way

The Spokes Folk team are less than 24 hours away from departing the UK and we are bound straight for Israel! Excitement and anticipation are at a high, only dampened by the disbelief that we are really REALLY about to participate in the legendary Champions of the Flyway! 

 Follow all the teams’ progress and success on twitter with the hashtag #COTF17

Let me take this opportunity again to thank Viking Optic for their extremely generous support by providing us with some class optics. Also a massive thank you is due to everybody who has kindly donated to BirdLife Turkey through our just Giving page to support migratory birds through Turkey.

If you can make a donation, and every donation is a massive boost to the team, then PLEASE follow the instructions on our page. Thanks.

On arrival in Eilat tomorrow, we plan to meet with other teams competing in the race to share and update our birding gen and get out in the field ASAP! A rough plan of action involves scouring various scrubland habitats on the northern edge of Eilat for migrant passerines, heading to the beach for gulls and seabirds, finding a spot in the mountains to the NW of Eilat for a raptor passage vantage point, scan the K19 and 20 salt pans for waders and sandgrouse at dusk and most importantly to familiarise ourselves with the International Birdwatching and Research Centre of Eilat which boasts an impressive diversity of riparian species, a welcoming start to our visit.

The team . . . . 

Samuel . .  the Bird Encyclopaedia

Erin . .  the ever smiling enthusiast 

George . . .  the heart of the SpokesFolks

Gary . . . The Biking Birder

As you may already know we have taken on a green aspect to the race as well as the time leading up to it as we will be exploring the area as best we can by bike and foot. This will be a physical challenge too as we will have to manage our time out in the sun sensibly, find areas of shelter during the midday heat and make the most of the early morning and later afternoon period. Our ambition to conduct all this by green methods has the added benefit that we will be spending an even greater proportion of the time in the field than would be the case if we were sat in the seat of a car simply hopping between hotspots. Who knows we may even stumble on a great hidden gem that we may have simply bypassed had we driven by it, personally I’ve seen and found some great birds simply whilst sat on the saddle.

Things to work on in preparation for the big race day will include genning up on raptor ID, particularly those in flight, calls of commoner species so that we can at least recognise when we are hearing something scarcer, familiarise ourselves with the landscape, birding sites and what time of day to visit each, push our physical limits and see how much we can achieve but most importantly we all want to have a load of fun. Whatever happens, I’m sure that’s guaranteed!

From North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory, Orkney, UK to Eilat, Israel . . . 

Bring it on!!! 

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