Earlier this spring, a combined Birdwatch-BirdGuides delegation was one of 16 overseas teams that took part in the Champions of the Flyway in Israel. It was the third consecutive annual appearance at this international bird race by the Roadrunners, who were captained by David Callahan and featured Optics Editor Mike Alibone, columnist Mark Avery and special guest Andy Clements, Director of the British Trust for Ornithology. The event raises funds for conservation causes around the East Mediterranean Flyway, this year specifically to help the BirdLife International partner in Greece prevent millions of birds being illegally slaughtered; it also provides a healthy dose of competitive birding in the process.
I would love to be able to say our team won the race, but that honour went to a top Finnish team – congratulations to the Arctic Redpolls on their big achievement. What many have said, however, is that the real winners were the birds, with a record £50,000 raised – a massive boost for this vital but under-funded work. The Roadrunners can at least claim a podium finish in the fundraising stakes, with total donations of more than £5,000 earning the team third place; for this our sincere thanks goes to all those who contributed so generously (in case you’d like to help, our fundraising page is still open to donations).
Initiatives such as Champions of the Flyway, started by birders to help birds, have succeeded in finding new ways to generate meaningful resources for conservation. May is traditionally the best month for bird races in Britain, so perhaps this will inspire some of you to do some sponsored birding of your own and raise funds for projects closer to home. If you do so on 14 May, consider also making it part of the Global Big Day which will attempt to set a new world record for the number of bird species seen in a single day. Good luck!