Pterodromoi – The BirdLife Greece Racers

The Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS*)
is delighted to be taking part in Champions of the Flyway 2016 – both fielding a race team and, more importantly, benefitting as the recipient of the conservation funding raised from this year’s event.

We are grateful to the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel for organising and staging this incredible event on behalf of BirdLife International. We’d like to thank all the race teams for their amazing awareness building and fundraising efforts and, of course, every individual contributing to the cause with donations too. We commit to use the conservation funding you raise wisely with the aim of raising awareness and implementing direct actions against the large-scale problem of illegal killing of birds in Greece.

We will do this by engaging directly with local people and encouraging them to change current practices. With your support, we will engage and empower as many Greek residents as possible in meaningful and effective ways that drive the needed change.

Greece lies along a major bird migratory route and is the first land some birds reach after leaving the coast of Africa. Undertaking such intense travel pushes birds to the limit of their endurance. The Greek islands provide perfect opportunities to rest and refuel along their migratory journeys but unfortunately at many of these stopovers birds are vulnerable to a variety of threats.

During the spring and autumn migratory periods, an illegal indiscriminate trapping method known as “limnes” (meaning the lakes) is used to catch small birds in the Greek Islands. This is rife on Santorini but it also takes place on the other Cyclades islands, such as Anafi and Folegandros too. Wild birds are attracted and lured by others trapped in cages, which are placed close to man-made drinking pools and feeding areas. Both resident songbirds and migratory birds are trapped this way for illegal trading or killing.

In the Ionian Islands (e.g. Zakynthos), spring shooting is considered a long-term “tradition.” Here is where the illegal killing of Turtle Doves takes place. Recently up-listed to Vulnerable on the 2015 IUCN Red List, their population has plummeted by 77% across Europe since 1980.

Your donations will help us:
− Raise public awareness and expand our environmental education campaign.
− Develop a capacity-building programme which will provide training and support to frontline enforcement personnel as well as guidance and support to local groups tackling the threats.
− Pioneer efforts to combat the illegal trade in captive wild birds. One initiative we’ve introduced called “Bird Alert” is an app that provides law enforcement officers a mobile decision tree, to assist in proper identification and a rapid response to any illegal trading they encounter.

Please support our team and work by making a donation and help make our flyways safe again. You can do this either by using the big yellow button above or, if you are a Greek national donating domestically,  please click on the Greek flag donation button just below that.

* HOS is the only bird conservation NGO in Greece. Since 1982, we have been striving to safeguard a sustainable environment where birds and people can live in harmony. We study and protect wild birds, we conserve Important Bird Areas in Greece, and raise public awareness in adults and children. Since 2010, HOS has been running a nationwide campaign against spring shooting, resulting in a reduction in the shooting intensity.Europe_Greece_Colour

Nikos Probonas

Nikos Probonas

From a very young age, Nikos was very fond of Nature and the winged world of the birds.

In 1993 he became a member of the Hellenic Ornithological Society, and will remain so ‘for ever’ (as he says), taking part as a volunteer in a variety and number of projects as well as in the Board of Trustees (where he served as Vice President).

Nikos’ interests lie almost exclusively in the bird diversity of Greece, and as a result he seldom travels abroad for birdwatching trips. On the contrary though, he has roamed extensively through the Greek countryside, on many hundreds of birdwatching expeditions. He holds the second place in the Greek Birdwatching Club 300 with no fewer than 350 species on his Greek life list! He still organises the Attica Bird Race and wishes to get acquainted with the birds of Israel, since he has never visited the country before in the past.

He is particularly fond of waders, even though his favourite bird is the Common Stonechat. His most loved destination is Naxos – a small island of the Cyclades, in the Aegean Sea, particularly during April when migratory birds arrive back from Africa. Preferably he would visit the island of Naxos above all other destinations!

For the last eleven years Nikos has been the Secretary of the Hellenic Rarities Committee and he also contributes to various ornithological publications, either as an author or as a consultant.

Taking BirdLife’s philosophy to heart, Nikos believes that only through inter-country cooperation can one successfully tackle the threats that face birds today, such as illegal killing.

Panagiotis is also a dedicated member of the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) which he joined in 1986.

Spending his childhood summers in one of the most wild and mountainous areas of central Greece, he became well accustomed to the arboreal bird species at an early age. But it was the shorebirds he really fell in love with when he spotted these “exotic” creatures in a coastal wetland where he volunteered as a heronry guardian on behalf of HOS.

He graduated from the Faculty of Forestry and Natural Environment of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Already, as a student, he undertook the coordination of a campaign on the Birds of Prey in Greece (HOS). Later on, his professional life included the guiding of birding tours all over Greece and the organization of events aiming at the familiarization of the public with the birds and the need to protect them.

As a teacher at the Moraitis School (Athens) he weekly accompanies students into the field.

He has worked as a field ornithologist in various programs including the Pan-Hellenic census of the Eleonora’s Falcon breeding population in the Greek archipelago (including the majority of the islands and islets of the Argo-Saronic, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese and the Ionian island groups).

All year round, and because he is indefinably obliged to, he has monitored the wetland birds of Attica, every fortnight for more than 20 years now!

His passion for birdwatching has taken him around the world from the New World and Asian rainforests, to the African savanna, the Maghreb desert and Himalayan alpine meadows. He has visited the Red Sea twice in order to experience the dessert as well as its underwater biodiversity. He is very much looking forward to explore the nature of Israel and being able to greet the migratory birds that are heading north.

Panagiotis Latsoudis

Panagiotis Latsoudis

Costas Papaconstantinou

Costas Papaconstantinou

Costas is a past President and member of the Hellenic Ornithological Society Board and was also a member of the BirdLife European Committee (1999 – 2004). He is the editor of the Greek translation of the “Collins Bird Guide” (first, 2007, and second, 2015, edition) and a current member of the Hellenic Rarities Committee.

His main fields of action are NGO work, Environmental Education and “green” politics. He has been actively involved in the preparation and implementation of numerous campaigns, field surveys, conservation, monitoring and education projects for Greek Birds. Only to mention a few: organizing the large scale field work for the designation of the Important Bird Areas in Greece, planning conservation projects and extensive surveys for birds in the Aegean, pioneering work for establishing the Antikythira Bird Observatory.

He has a special interest in the birds of the Western Palearctic and looks forward to seeing some new bird species in Eilat and enlarging his Western Palearctic checklist. He also loves the Aegean archipelago, its seabirds and the wildlife it hosts.

Roula has been an active member of the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) since 1995. She feels ‘at home’ in HOS as she first got involved with the Society when she was still at school and now works for it as a member of the HOS Conservation Department. She is passionate about nature conservation and she can’t imagine herself not being involved with wildlife. She is a Forester – Environmental Scientist and feels very lucky that her passion developed into a profession. After an MSc in botany and habitat management, she often feels torn in the field looking down (for plants) as well as up (for birds).

During two decades of action with the HOS, she has participated in numerous bird conservation, public awareness and environmental education projects and events across Greece and other countries.

As HOS’ Conservation Communication Officer, Roula today spends most of her time raising awareness on threatened species and important bird areas in Greece and implementing outdoor environmental education activities. She complains that her free time is limited, but even in that time she involves herself with birdlife, either by birdwatching or volunteering in HOS projects. She believes that any successful conservation project needs public support and participation, and in her daily work she makes sure that HOS does just that.

She is taking part in the HOS team to make sure that the public attention is focused on the illegal killing of birds in Greece and also in order to promote the efforts of the HOS to safeguard migration routes for the thousands of birds that cross the Greek lands. This will be her second birding trip to Israel and she very much looks forward to it!

Roula Trigou

Roula Trigou

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Lesvos Birding 2 LONG HIGH