Victorious Bird Nerds (VBN)

VictoriousBirdNerds_logo_lowresThe Victorious Bird Nerds are a new kid on the COTF block. But powered by veteran Gert Ottens, these three keen birders aim to devote their passion, ID skills and adrenaline levels to the great cause of conserving migratory birds. We are colleagues at Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN – BirdLife in The Netherlands) and proud to operate under our more appropriate rendering of the acronym.

Our race is going to be impressive, one way or the other, but will still be dwarfed by the amazing races that migratory birds undertake. For example:

  • Great Snipe from Sweden to central Africa, 6,800 km in 3.5 days!
  • Alaskan Northern Wheatears winter in Ethiopia: 15,000 km – single trip!
  • Dutch Red-backed Shrikes via Israel to southern Africa and back over the Arabian Peninsula: 22,000 km!

Now, why would anyone want to kill such feathered miracles of evolution?! Please support us and help our Turkish brothers and sisters-in-conservation in their amazing work! Israel, here we come!

Please donate to our efforts to protect the miracle of migration!

VBN is sponsored by:



VBN sponsor logo

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!


Meet the Team

Gert Ottens

Gert Ottens

My name is Gert Ottens. I studied Forestry and Nature Conservation and work for VBN, where I help volunteers and local bird groups in their local nature conservation efforts. Besides, I have been watching birds for as long as I can remember (I’m 45 years ‘old’ now), and have notched up close to 50 visits to Israel over the past 22 years (!). In my spare time I’m on the editorial staff of Dutch Birding (Journal of the Dutch Birding Association) and Limosa (Journal of the Netherlands’ Ornithologists Union) and my interests also include voluntary bird census work as well as twitching (both in the Netherlands and in Israel). But most importantly, I am also one-third of the world famous Dutch Knights: a highly successful team that participated in the last three editions of the Champions of the Flyway. My fellow knights regret not being able to compete again this year, so The Netherlands are represented by yet another team of avid birders. Bring it on!

Jip Louwe Kooijmans

Jip Louwe Kooijmans

Hello, I’m Jip Louwe Kooijmans. I’ve been watching birds as far as my memory goes back. It started in the garden of my parental home, but my birding radius grew with my age. I turned 50 last year and I’ve travelled from New-Zealand to Svalbard and from Japan to Panama. Like the other members of this team I am based in the Netherlands working for VBN. I’m team leader for the conservation programme on urban birds. Next to my national work, I moderate the BirdLife International Group on Urban Birds. My personal Big Day record is 127 species in the Amsterdam area only. The Champions of the Flyway 2017 will be my first visit to Israel and I’m really looking forward to it .. !

Bernd de Bruijn

Bernd de Bruijn

I’m Bernd de Bruijn and I’ve been interested in wildlife since my childhood, and birds in particular. During my studies of Environmental Sciences, this took on the more serious forms of breeding bird censuses and running after new species. Having lived in Kenya for a number of years, and subsequently travelled extensively over Africa, also in my capacity of International Conservation Officer at VBN, I have first-hand experience of the challenges migratory birds face, but also of the great efforts of BirdLife partners to conserve them (and, as a result, I have a healthy Africa bird list as well J). Based in The Netherlands, I’m now heading the national wetlands conservation programme at VBN. By lack of travels, I’ve picked up twitching again to work on my Dutch list – there seems to be no cure, and who wants one anyway. During big days back home I’ve covered over 160 km – on a bike! – to see over 120 species in a day. Once in the race, there is no stopping me…