Champions of the Flyway 2017 – Principles and Official Race Rules

23th – 24th MarchArrival of teams to Eilat. All teams (or most team members) must aim to be in Eilat no later than March 24th.
24th MarchTeam Scouting Begins – Optional. Led by Israel’s top birders. A full day of touring the best sites in the Negev and the Arava Valley enabling participants to get a good feel of the “playing field” and practical and logistical issues. Join Hadoram Shirihai, Jonathan Meyrav and the Eilat Birds Festival groups exploring the playing field. Teams may choose to do their own scouting as well.
25th March – 19:00 COTF meets Artists for Nature” event . In this special COTF opening event we will host the artists for nature foundation artists and enjoy an exhibition of sketches from the Artists for Nature trip. The event will include several speakers, a logistical briefing towards the race and more. Sponsored by LEICA. LEICA Logo
26th March – 20:00COTF opening dinner at the Eilat Birdwatching Park – Hosted by ZEISS .
Sponsored by:

Zeiss Logo

28th March00:01: The race begins
19:00: The finish line opens.
23:59: The finish line closes.
29th MarchChampions of the Flyway awards ceremony and closing event at the Hilton Hotel.

Sponsored by:

Champions of the Flyway – Race Principles

Champions of the Flyway is an international bird race that challenges the norm. Its primary purpose is to celebrate the extraordinary miracle of bird migration.

Champions of the Flyway is also a race run for conservation. All teams are competing to raise the greatest amount of conservation funding.

We expect healthy competition but shun suppression. We encourage the sharing of sighting information and, through that, the enabling of all teams to enjoy the maximum number of sightings during the twenty-four hour period.

The prestigious title “Champions of the Flyway” will be awarded to the team recording the highest number of species. In the event of a tie, honours will be shared equally.

Additional awards will be made for several other achievement categories.

“Guardians of the Flyway” – The team raising the most money for the race’s conservation causes.

“Knights of the Flyway” – The team demonstrating the greatest commitment to sharing sightings with others.

“Eye of the Flyway” –  Awarded to the photographer providing the best image from the race.

A parallel national race will also be taking place alongide the international event.

“Israeli Champions of the Flyway” – will be awarded to the Israeli team recording the highest number of species.

Champions of the Flyway – Official Race Rules

The following rules establish the standards and practices under which all Champions of the Flyway bird race team members are expected to participate. All participants must familiarise themselves with The Champions of the Flyway – Official Race Rules and comply with them fully in order to compete. Failure to do so will lead to team penalties or disqualification.

1.    Team Rules

1.1.   Teams must consist of at least three, and no more than five, pre-registered members.

1.2.  Each team must nominate a captain at registration.

1.3.  All teams must agree to having their members’ details pre-publicised on the Champions of the Flyway website

1.4.  Teams can utilise designated drivers who will not be considered team members and may be added or released at any time. There is no limit to the number of designated drivers.

1.5.  All team members DO NOT need to remain together for the whole 24-hour period. Team members may leave and re-join the team at any time under the following stipulations:

  • Teams must be comprised of at least three team members in the field at all times.
  • Any team members leaving the team for reasons of health or fatigue may not re-join the team during the 24-hour period, but will remain an official member of the team.

1.6.  Any number of non-birding participants may also join the teams (media, friends etc) but these participants may not assist the team in any way with the location or identification of birds.

2.     Counting Species

2.1.   All teams will be issued with official COTF race check lists conforming to the Birds of Israel Official List.

2.2.  Each species logged can be either seen or heard but must be conclusively identified by at least three members of the team.

2.3.  It is not necessary for all team members to record the same individual bird. If two team members hear a Bee-eater and a third member does not, BUT manages to see or hear a Bee-eater later in the day, then Bee-eater will be deemed recorded.

2.4.  When in the field, participating team members must stay within ‘hearing distance’ of each other at all times. Hearing distance is defined as unamplified shouting range.

2.5.  Teams are entitled to add up to five species, which are not listed on the COTF checklist and not recorded by any other team. Any such species will be deemed “write in” species.

2.6.  All “write in” species must be seen or heard by all team members to qualify.

2.7.  Teams are expected to phone in details of any “write-in” species and any other extraordinary sightings to the race organisers live, during the race.

2.8.  Champions of the Flyway officials will review all “write in” species before acceptance and supportive evidence will be required. Photographic or video evidence is requested wherever possible.

2.9.  A detailed account of all “write in” species must be submitted with the team checklist before midnight. Official forms will be provided to teams who wish to submit write-in species.

2.10. To minimize disturbance to nesting birds, teams that know the location of such species can only count the observation if all team members observe the bird together and for no longer than five minutes.

2.11.The flushing of birds from nest sites or cavities in order to get an identifiable look is not allowed and will lead to disqualification. This applies for both the scouting period and during the race.

2.12.    Call playback is strictly prohibited throughout the race.

2.13.    The use of Walkie Talkies and GPS devices is allowed.

2.14.   Please use your head, the primary interest of all teams involved is the welfare of the birds and adding another species or two to the list is not worth disturbing the birds.

3.    Time

3.1.   The race begins on March 29th, 2016 at 00:00 and ends exactly 24 hours later.

3.2.  To qualify, all teams must check in by mobile phone with the Race Organisers at three pre-designated one-hour time slots during the day. This is required to enable your team’s progress to be broadcast online via the Champions of the Flyway website, in real time.

3.3.  At each check-in, teams will be expected to share details of their sightings and their locations. Timings for mandatory check-in are 09:00-10:00, 13:00-14:00 and 17:00-18:00.

3.4.  All registered competing team captains must submit their final official team checklists (signed by each team member) by midnight on March 29th, 2016. The final team score will be added to the scoreboard only after confirmation of the list by the judging panel.

4.    Geographic Area 

4.1.   Only birds seen within the defined  “playing field” can be counted. Details of the playing field boundaries can be found in “The Race Playingfield” section above.

4.2.  Birds seen on the Red Sea or in the Gulf of Eilat may be counted as long as the observers are standing on the beach in Eilat.

4.3.  The race finish line is in the Agamim Hotel in Eilat and will be open from 19:00. All teams must be back at this finish line by midnight on March 29th, 2016. No exception will be made to this rule.

5.    Travel

5.1.   Race Teams may use only vehicles hired for the race and labelled with official COTF logos.

5.2.  All teams must abide with Israel’s driving laws.

5.3.  Designated drivers may not affect or alter the route or strategy of the team; their job is strictly to drive!

6.    Judges

6.1.   The Judging Panel consists of the following members of the Champions of the Flyway organizing Committee.

  • Dan Alon
  • Jonathan Meyrav
  • Yoav Perlman

6.2. The decision of the Judging Panel will be final in all matters.

6.3. All category awards will be announced during the COTF closing Ceremony, which commences at 10:00 am on March 30th, 2016.

See you on the starting line!