The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls

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The long waiting will soon be over and The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls are ready to get back in business in Southern Israel! With the last year’s victory under our belt one could think we wouldn’t feel as pressured as previous years, but after the long dark winter of the north, 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 3rd COTF –race for The Arctic Redpolls and we are proud to be part of this great and cheerful conservation event again. It is essential to monitor and understand the different kind of hazards migratory birds face along their journey now and in the future. That’s why this year’s project with BirdLife Turkey and the educational aspect to prevent migratory bird slaughter 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!

ZEISS_20x20mm_cmykThe 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 happy to get support from the Zeiss Sport Optics!

We’ve been closely spying various Israeli birding websites and we have noticed the big amount of nomadic and desert dwelling species like larks, sandgrouse and wheatears. Could it be that this is the year someone is lucky enough to find the legendary Dunn’s lark? We can’t wait to get to scan the desert once again!

 

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Meet the Team

Roni Väisänen

Bird Consultant & Team Captain

Roni Väisänen

Bird Consultant & Team Captain

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. He has participated the Champions of the Flyway three times now. 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.

William Velmala

Environmental Expert

William Velmala has been birding for over 25 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. William is currently working as an Environmental Expert doing nature surveys on birds and bats. He is also a freelance ornithojournalist having written well over 200 popular articles, mostly in Finnish birding magazines.

William Velmala

Jarkko Santaharju

Jarkko Santaharju

MSc student in ornithology

Jarkko Santaharju has been watching birds actively 28 years and has worked many years with nature and bird surveys. He just finished his Master’s thesis on autumn phenology of passerine birds in the Helsinki Lab of Ornithology (HelLO) at the Finnish Museum of Natural History. Jarkko has been ringing birds for 16 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, especially on the Indian subcontinent. For Jarkko, this will be a fourth birding trip to Israel.

Vilppu Välimäki

Ornithologist

Like the other Arctic Redpolls, Vilppu Välimäki is a birding all-rounder: A ringer, a birdwatcher, and an ornithologist. She has worked closely with several bird species, most recently with Northern Wheatears in the Swiss alps. Vilppu loves Lapland, islands in the Baltic sea, and the vast tracts of forests that still exists in Finland. Currently she is a migratory bird as well, as her family recently moved to the Netherlands. Despite the friendly competition, she’s is looking forward to meeting her new lowland conspecifics in Champions of the Flyway!

Vilppu Välimäki

Ornithologist