BirdLife/Swarovski Optik Racers
The BirdLife/Swarovski Optik race team formed as the natural evolution of a long-standing partnership.
While this team’s collective knowledge of birds, their migrations and the best way to look at them is substantial, their experience of birding in Eilat is not.
Do not write them off too quickly though – these far-sighted high-flyers have amazing vision and that makes them immensely competitive.
One in five of all the world’s birds migrate and 40% of these are declining. The BirdLife/Swarovski Optik Racers believe in reversing that trend, keeping the inspiring spectacle of migration alive and doing all they can to protect the intrepid birds that make such amazing journeys along their flyways.
If you believe in that too, please sponsor them here.
Urs-Peter Stauble, Ben Olewine, Debbie Lawrence, Peter Oakley, ML Pharms Ltd, Michael & Jane Horsford…
Shelly Saarela, Vernon & Betty Trim, Ken Tucker, Duncan Coates, Alan Clarke, Ron Lawrence, Neil Glenn, Dougal Gysi…
Howard Vaughan, Linda Morgan, Candace Temple, Joan Williams, Howard Jolliffe, Francis & Lorna…
Stephen Lowe, Lincolnshire Bird Club, Chet Baker Fan, John Martin and our many other anonymous supporters….
Jim’s fascination for birds started as a tiny child. He became a Young Ornithologist Club member at the age of eight, funding his first pair of binoculars from pocket money painstakingly saved over two years. His Charles Frank 8x30s remain a treasured, if rather battered, possession today.
Jim’s interest in rarities took flight when he first caught sight of P.A.D. Hollom’s Popular Handbook of Rarer British Birds. Forty years and 500+ species later, he has birded every corner of the UK in pursuit of the elusive visitors listed there.
Before life at BirdLife, Jim was a Marketing and Management Consultant having learned his trade during a career spanning 25 years at Ogilvy – one of the world’s leading advertising agencies. A senior role on the Ford account gave him access to some extremely fast cars – which came in useful when he needed to get to rarities in a hurry.
Over the last decade his passion for seeing rare birds in Britain, has evolved into a commitment to protect globally threatened species. In July 2007 he joined BirdLife International to launch The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme. He has led the marketing and fundraising for that ever since and also advises on the BirdLife International Partnership’s brand strategy.
Jim’s personal birding ambition is to gain reputation among his peers as a ‘bird finder’. Yet, as that almost entirely relies on his turning up some more good ones, chances remain slim.
Dale got his first pair of binoculars as a very early birthday present after his dad realized that was the only way he’d get any peace.
Many robins, eagles and finches later, he ended up at university studying various biology things and wrote a thesis on vertebrate biogeography in southern African forests. While studying, Dale worked on a variety of conservation/research projects (parrots, wagtails, vultures, and anything else that flew) and in his spare time, he ringed several thousand birds.
He also studied Scarlet Macaws and worked on their conservation for three years in southern Costa Rica, quickly followed by a year in the Caribbean – working on Whale Sharks.
In 2007 he moved to Austria, where he now has the coolest job in the world making awesome toys for birders as Head of Marketing – Nature, Travel & Leisure – at Swarovski Optik.
Dale happens to also be obsessed with photography, particularly digiscoping, and despite all efforts will almost certainly never be a good birder.
Martin is a keen naturalist, high on enthusiasm, but pretty low on skill, so will probably not be of much use in the competitive bird race arena.
He began his working life as a research scientist studying the sex lives of birds and the ecology of ageing before getting into science communication and conservation.
He’s in the team to make sure that the outside world gets an idea of what’s happening through social media and will also be taking photos of the escapade. He also hopes to see a few new birds.
Martin works at BirdLife International in the Communications team. He has an inordinate fondness for woodcreepers and a love of 1980s alternative music and Asian film, but is nowhere near as interesting as that makes him sound.
Follow Martin and the BirdLife/Swarovski team #cotfracers
Stu has been watching birds since the age of seven when his grandfather showed him his first Spotted Flycatcher. Despite parental predictions, he still hasn’t grown out of this phase.
His interest in international conservation grew out of fieldwork expeditions to Paraguay, Indonesia and Peru organised with fellow students during his undergraduate days. A PhD and post-doctoral research provided further opportunities for fieldwork in far-flung corners of the globe, including three years paddling around a small lake in southern India studying the sex-lives of Bronze-winged Jacanas. He showed that they are polyandrous and sex-role reversed, with females competing for harems of males, each of which carry out all the parental care: a mating system shared with only a dozen or so of the world’s 10,000 bird species.
Fieldwork in Sulawesi surveying the nesting grounds of an endemic megapode, the Maleo, led to a 10-day contract to write a chapter on the species in BirdLife International’s Asian Red Data Book. Over a decade later, he is now Head of Science for BirdLife and leads a team who help the 120+ BirdLife Partners to identify which species and sites are the highest conservation priorities, which threats are most severe, and which solutions are most urgently needed.
Stu has been lucky enough to have birded in over 70 countries, but is greatly looking forward to his first trip to Israel!