The Champions of the Flyway project is unique in many ways. Project coordinator Jonathan Meyrav summarized it nicely:
“Besides being a challenging race that requires strong birding and route planning skills, COTF is an event that is steered by a few but executed by many. The Champions project encourages and promotes sharing, caring and working together to achieve a greater goal. We feel that birding and conservation go hand-in-hand and that the “power of many” plays a significant role in the project’s success. The fact that thousands of people worldwide feel part of the project helps the message echo stronger and to reach broader crowds, only together can we tackle the illegal killing of birds along the flyways, one place at a time!”
We are proud to announce the following awards.
“The Champions of the Flyway” Award
The team that observed the highest number of species.
- The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls are the new Champions of the Flyway. This was the second year for the Redpolls, who came in hungry and determined to beat their 2015 record of second place.
“The Guardians of the Flyway” Award
The team that raised the most for the cause!
- The ZEISS Bird-watcher’s Digest WAY-OFF COURSERS! The Coursers raised a whopping $12,500 and helped make this a record year! Bill Thompson III, Alvaro Jaramillo, Ben Lizdas and Mark Cocker.
- The “Terns” from Ma’agan Michael that raised more than $3000 for the cause in Israel!
“The Knights of the Flyway” Award:
This special award goes to the team that did the most for the project before and during race day itself.
We felt that despite winning another category the 2016 Knights award goes to
- The ZEISS Bird-watcher’s Digest WAY-OFF COURSERS!
The Coursers led by team captain Bill Thompson III donated time and resources to write, compose and promote the official anthem for the Champions project. The team was backed by the fantastic “Rain Crows” band and an ace production team that really took the message far. During the race day itself the Coursers decided to undertake a “green big day” and spent the entire 24 hours on foot at the IBRCE sanctuary. The team walked 10-miles during the day, found many birds, helped the other teams to “collect” and was a natural hub for the media and birders visiting the sanctuary.
Ladies and Gents, we bow down to you for a fantastic 2016 Champions campaign!
Over 190 birders from 40 teams assembled in Eilat for an incredible race day on March 29th 2016. The teams combed the playing field from Nizzana and Yerucham Lake in the Negev, down to the Gulf of Eilat in a hectic attempt to log as many species of birds possible in 24 hours. There are many wonderful stories from race day, these will surface slowly of course but for now we are delighted to share the final results of an amazing day of birding for conservation. Regardless of how the teams did on the actual Big Day we would like to congratulate you all on the incredible fundraising efforts you all put in. As you know we have raised a record high of $70,000 that will go to active bird conservation on the ground in Greece. For this, you are all CHAMPIONS!
Award winners and final standings:
2016 Champions of the Flyway – International race (16 teams)
The Champions! The Zeiss Arctic Redpolls with 174 species!
2nd Place: The IBRCE Flying Dutchmen – 171 species
3rd Place: The Next Generation Birders – 164 species
4th Place: The Birding Eco-tours Bandits + The Leica CMBO American Dippers – 163 species
5th Place – The Dutch Knights – 159 species
6th Place – Team Extremadura – 155 species
7th Place – The Sempach Snowfinches – 151 species
The Zeiss BBRC Vagrants + Pterodromoi Birdlife Greece– 148 species
Birdwatch Birdguides Roadrunners – 138 species
Birdlife Swarovski Racers – 134 species
The Inglorious Bustards – 130 species – Budgie included 😉
The Bus Birders – 114 species
SEO Birdlife – 112
The Zeiss BWD Way-off Coursers – 109 (Green big day at the IBRCE Park)
Award winners and final standings:
2016 Champions of the Flyway –
Israeli race (24 teams altogether, 9 Youth teams)
The Champions! The J’s Chickens (Hoopoe center for creative ecology) – 169 species
2nd Place: The Terns from Ma’agan Michael – 167 species
3rd Place: The CC Coursers – 160 species
4th Place: The Arava Eagles – 156 species
5th Place: The Little Bastards* – YOUTH TEAM – 154 species
6th Place: The Pratincoles – 149 species
7th Place: The Desert Wheatears – 148 species
The Swallows – YOUTH TEAM – 145 species
The Babblers – YOUTH TEAM – 141 species
The Angry Birds – YOUTH TEAM – 137 species
The Bulbuls + the Goldcrests – YOUTH TEAMS – 130 species
The Greenfinches – YOUTH TEAM – 129 species
The “Bald Ibises” Tel Aviv Univ – 126 species
The Bee-eaters – 125 species
The Sooty Falcons – YOUTH TEAM – 124 species
The Arava Babblers – 123 species
The Goldfinches – 122
The JBO Orioles – 119 species
The Hula mobile hide team – 115 species
The Safari team – 106 species (+ 100 heart points for helping an injured Red-rumped Swallow during race day)
The Great Bustards – 104 species
The Peregrines – YOUTH TEAM – 102 species
*Yes, you read that correctly. Cheeky monkeys : )
- A Grand total of 243 species were seen during the 24 hours by all teams.
- The Champions of the Flyway Whatsapp group buzzed with over 620 messages of information shared by teams!
- The official hashtag $#COTF2016 lit up social media for days!
Congratulations to all teams and thank you for making this year our best yet!
2016 Champions of the Flyway Results are IN!
Congratulations to The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls for winning the 2016 Champions of the Flyway, having observed a total of 174 bird species! Second place goes to the IBRCE Flying Dutchmen (171 species) and third place is awarded to our youngest team, the Next Generation Birders (164 species).
The ZEISS/Bird Watcher’s Digest Way-off Coursers take home two awards, both Knights of the Flyway and Guardians of the Flyway, having raised over $12,000 for the cause.
Israeli teams competed in parallel races:
The Champions award goes to Team HOOPOE with 169 species. The Terns come in second with 167 species and The Coursers ring in third at 160 species.
Meanwhile, the Terns raised more money than any other Israeli team for the cause and win the Israeli Guardians of the Flyway.
All in all, it was a remarkable event and the real winners of the Champions of the Flyway race are the birds! Teams collectively raised a record amount of $67,000. The Hellenic Ornithological Society, our BirdLife in Greece partner, will use these funds to help stop the illegal killing and trapping of birds in Greece.
We congratulate and thank all teams for making this year such a success!
And thank all the donors who made this record donation possible.
Stay tuned for more.
*Image courtesy of Dov Greenblat.
Birding Adventures TV captured some amazing footage of Champions on the Flyway in 2015.
“Every year in march, over 30 teams from all over the world gather in the Negev desert of southern Israel. They come here to participate in one of the most grueling birding compete on the planet. The Champions of the Flyway. ” – host James Currie.