Besh Birders

“Besh Birders” refers to Besh Barmag, a sacred mountain in Azerbaijan. This unique place has become a key region for all team members in the course of their birdwatching careers. The very idea of forming a team for Champions Of The Flyways arose there, right at the shores of the Caspian Sea, while watching migrating larks and buntings. Though born in different places all over Germany all of the team members spent a part of their lives in the small city of Greifswald in Northeastern Germany close to the Baltic Sea. Pia, Christoph and Michael still live there and enjoy the great birdwatching opportunities on their doorstep, while Manuel now has to deal with the birding sites of the huge urban jungle called Berlin. 
Even though half of the team hasn’t been to Israel prior to this trip, they are keen on creating a lasting impression in the COTF – and first of all they’re looking forward to having a great time while birding in the desert! Let’s get it started!

Meet the Team:

Christoph Himmel

Christoph Himmel discovered the passion for birds quite late but since then: no day without birds. During his study at the Greifswald University in Germany, he met Michael and Pia and after his first visit of the fascinating birding destination Azerbaijan, he was infected with the Azerbaijan-Virus. In the following year he conducted a successful shorebird research project, which he now tries to establish on a regular basis.

Michael Heiß

Michael Heiß is a passionate birdwatcher since his childhood. While studying at the Greifswald University in Germany he took the chance for a short-term internship in Azerbaijan, where he discovered the Besh Barmag bird migration bottleneck, a narrow coastal plain located between the Greater Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Here, a huge amount of migrating birds is funnelled through the plain every spring and autumn. After finishing his PhD about the Besh Barmag bottleneck, he is now eager to promote the site for a scientific long-term monitoring programme.

Manuel Tacke

At the age of 11, Manuel Tacke was far from truly understanding how much Birdwatching connects people – and how many likeminded humans and great places one gets to discover through it. At that time he knew no more than 2 other people who also liked to watch birds. Because of taking part in bird migration counts in Georgia and Azerbaijan and nature conservation projects in many other places this has changed completely over the years. He now passionately works for NAJU, a youth environmental association in Berlin that deals with environmental education and nature conservation campaigns.

Pia Fetting

Pia Fetting became a bird enthusiast during a voluntary ecological year she did after finishing school. Contemporary to her studies at Greifswald University, she spent every vacation participating in various bird-research projects, mainly with a focus on bird ringing. While she was searching for new challenges, Michael drew her attention to the under explored avifauna of Azerbaijan. Since her first visit to the country in 2015, she is working on pushing forward the environmental awareness and bird conservation as well as broaden the preliminary knowledge of birds in Azerbaijan.