Zeiss Arctic Redpolls

The long waiting will soon be over and The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls are ready to get back in business in Southern Israel! With the two victories under our belt one could think we wouldn’t feel as pressured as previous years, but after the long two years of not having been able to participate in the race, we are super-excited to put our skills to work and we’ll do our best to be at the top spot once again!

This is the 4th COTF race for The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls and we are proud to be part of this great and cheerful conservation event again. It is essential to understand and promote knowledge on the different kind of hazards the migratory birds face, not only along their journey but also in their breeding grounds now and in the future. That’s why this year’s project with Steppe Eagles in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is really important and feels like a right way to go. Even though the breeding grounds of The Arctic Redpolls reside in Finland, at the northern end of the eastern Eurasian–African flyway, we are of course concerned about the birds of the East Mediterranean flyway as well!

The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls is a team of four enthusiast birdwatchers and ornithologists from Finland, with bird races close to the heart. For us, the Champions of the Flyway is first and foremost about protection of migratory birds and raising funds for them. But at the same time, we are definitely going to make the most of it in terms of great birding, meeting good friends and colleagues, as well as lark around during the birding cliffhanger. And once again, we are really happy to get support from the Zeiss Sport Optics!

Zeiss logo (2)

Meet the Team:

Roni Väisänen

Roni Väisänen is a keen birder whose main interest lies in various bird ringing activities. Coming from northeastern Finland, he has always been interested in the specialities of this area, which has led him to fall in love with Red-flanked Bluetail. In addition to ringing in Finland, he has become familiar with Israeli birds while working as a ringer at the IBRCE ringing station in Eilat during five springs. Roni has also been lucky to find a job with birds as he runs Avescapes – a company that provides bird consulting and birding tour services. Roni works also as a secretary of Finnish National Rarities Committee.

William Velmala

William Velmala has been birding for over 30 years. Nowadays, birding and ringing on bird observatories is the bee’s knees for William, but he is also a keen bird photographer and tries to manage a couple of birding trips abroad each year. William spent almost a year and a half in Israel in 1999–2001, participating voluntary surveys of raptor migration in the Northern Valleys and of breeding Griffon Vultures in the Golan Heights. He also established a ringing station, which operated for a few seasons at kibbutz Lotan.

Jarkko Santaharju

Jarkko Santaharju has been watching birds actively 30 years and has worked many years with nature and bird surveys. Currently he is a stay-at-home dad to his two-year-old, so every birding opportunity is highly appreciated. Jarkko has been ringing birds for 19 years and his other interests in birding are field identification, photography and having a good laugh with bunch of nice people. Birding abroad is close to his heart and this will be his fifth birding trip to Israel.

Petteri Lehikoinen

A new member of The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls, Petteri Lehikoinen shares the wide range of birding background with the other members. He is a ringer, a birdwatcher, a photographer, a guide and an ecologist. Petteri is soon about to defend his PhD on climate change and avian conservation. This work was done in the Finnish Museum of Natural History, where Petteri is working also as a Senior Museum Technician with bird ringing and monitoring. Together with Roni, he is running the company Avescapes, which provides bird guiding services all around the world. On these trips Petteri has visited also Israel several times. In addition Petteri is a member of the Finnish National Rarities Committee which has deepened his interest to bird identification