Zeiss Arctic Redpolls

Look who’s back! The ZEISS Arctic Redpolls are ready to get back in business! With two Champions titles under our belt in 2016 and 2017, one might think we would not feel as pressured as in previous years. But after the long six years of not having been able to participate, we are super-excited to put our skills to work and we will do our best to be at the top spot once again!

This is the 4th COTF race for the ZEISS Arctic Redpolls and we are proud to be part of this great and cheerful conservation event again. It is essential to understand and promote knowledge on the different hazards the migratory birds face, not only along their journey but also in their breeding grounds now and in the future. That is why this year’s project with the Red-breasted Goose feels important.

The 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 primarily about protection of migratory birds and raising funds for them. But at the same time, we are 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 ZEISS Birding!

Zeiss logo (2)

Meet the Team:

Roni Väisänen

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 specialties 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. 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

William Velmala has been birding for over 30 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.

Jarkko Santaharju

Jarkko Santaharju has been watching birds actively for over 30 years and has worked many years with nature and bird surveys. Currently he is working at the ringing center at the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki. Jarkko has been ringing birds for over 20 years and his other interests in birding are field identification, photography and having a good laugh with a bunch of nice people. Birding abroad is close to his heart, and this will be his fifth birding trip to Israel.

Tuomas Seimola

A new member of the ZEISS Arctic Redpolls, Tuomas Seimola, shares the wide range of birding background with the other members. He is a ringer, a birdwatcher, a photographer, a guide, and a professional ornithologist. Most of his time is spent with various national monitoring schemes and bird-related studies in agricultural areas, wetlands, and archipelago at the National Resources Institute Finland. Tuomas has been leading birding tours for Rockjumper Birding Tours since 2018 mainly in his favorite continent South America, he is also a part of Avescapes family. As hobbies he studies the declining Finnish Ortolan Bunting and enjoys ringing Rustic Buntings with good friends and lots of laughs. This is the second time Tuomas participates in COTF.