Women In Steppe

The Kowa Women in Steppe were the first international women’s team to participate in Champions of the Flyway. We first participated in 2020 but the race was cancelled due to Covid but we were able to race together in 2022. Together we represent the East and West Coast of the USA, Trinidad and Tobago, Israel, Uganda and Uzbekistan. We are excited and we are ready to bird till we drop! Get in Steppe and support us as we race to protect the endangered Red-breasted Goose in their migration staging grounds in Kazakhstan and in their wintering grounds in Bulgaria.

Meet the Team:

Alena Kacal

Alena Kacal has been birding from age 10 when she caught the bug in her homeland of Trinidad while handfeeding Motmots from the veranda. After spending her teen years birding in Trinidad, she headed to New England to see some new birds while getting a degree in Wildlife Biology. 17 years ago she escaped the cold and moved to Israel where she started to work at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. Starting as a guide for the JBO’s bird club, Alen served as the Director of the JBO till the end of 2022. Look for her on the staff of BirdLife Israel in the new year. She loves nothing better than to introduce people to the wonder of birds and says that the best sound in the world is the “aah” of someone who truly sees a bird for the first time.

Although computers, budgets and meetings have claimed most of her time, Alen grabs whatever time she can to go birding and is looking forward to the Champions race. This is her 9th race and she is excited to be joining this great group of women for the race this year.

Lisa Schibley

Lisa Schibley grew up surrounded by birders, but it wasn’t until a move from the East Coast to Tucson, Arizona that her interest developed into a passion. For the next ten years, she participated in all things birding: patch birding, county listing, rarity chases, field surveys, bird-a-thons, Christmas bird counts, and leading trips for Tucson Audubon. In 2003, she took a birding hiatus due to the arrival of James and then Edison (who both, alas, show no birding interest). In 2015, however, she returned to everything birds and birding with doubled vigor and enthusiasm to make up for lost time. She currently works at Manomet as the North American Coordinator for the International Shorebird Survey, plus she provides database and other technical support for various shorebird projects.

Bringing the excitement of competitive birding together with the goal of raising funds for important conservation projects is very familiar. She’s been participating in Mass Audubon’s spring Bird-a-thon and Manomet’s fall Bird-a-thon for a number of years, each year with greater results, both in monies raised and birds seen. Lisa was unable to race with the team in 2022, so she looks forward to upping her game to the next level at the Champions of the Flyway in Israel in 2023.

Lidiya Naomi Jurborsky-Skhinas

Lidiya Skhinas-Jurborsky is a bio-ecologist. She was born in sunny Tashkent, in Uzbekistan. Her enthusiasm towards birding started with her family and their adventures. She now lives in Israel for the last seven years and loves nature and birds. She is racing for the third time for the third time in the “best team: Women in Steppe”. As they say in Israel -Pa’am shlishit glida (third time Ice-cream)! Lidiya am sure that uniting people can change the situation in the world and save the nature and the birds. She hopes that you upport our team in the race for the Red-breasted goose.

Patricia Kansiime

Patricia is from Uganda and is a proud member of the Uganda Women Birders Club, (UWBC)and Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA). She began birding in 2015 when she attended a course on nature guiding and met Judith Mirembe, who inspired her into birding, and in 2019 she started birding as a career. Since then she has worked as a freelance guide and site guide around Kibale Forest National Park. Participation in local and global big days has improved on her ebird lifelist.  Patricia loves birding and traveling. Her free times are usually spent with kids through Village bird clubs where she is one of the mentors who helps to pass on their passion into the younger generation.

Joining this great team in the champions of the Flyway is like a dream. Patricia has lots of expectations like seeing new birds, making new friends and above all racing to conserve the birds of the world. She is very excited to be joining the race for the first time.

Hannah Buschert

Hannah Buschert spent her childhood visiting zoos, aquariums, and tide pools every weekend, but only started birding after taking an ornithology course while pursuing a Natural Resource Management degree at Oregon State University. After university, she worked as an interpretive ranger with Oregon State Parks and Texas State Parks and more recently with Florida Fish and Wildlife as the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail Coordinator. Hannah has since received a Master’s in Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management and works to combine her love of wildlife recreation and tourism management in her current life in Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA managing a family-owned motel and working with local industry leaders to promote responsible, sustainable ecotourism.

She and her husband, Erik, love to travel, bird, and share their adventures on their podcast: Hannah and Erik Go Birding. They have participated in Christmas Bird Counts, birding festivals, scientific surveys, volunteered many hours, and bird competitions, including the Great Texas Birding Classic in which they are the reigning champions of the Human-Powered Big Day!

While Hannah has not yet confirmed whether she can race with the team this year, she is working behind the scenes to help get the ball rolling for the 2023 race.

Amy Summerfelt

Amy Summerfelt has been a bird lover her whole life. Inspired by her father and grandmother, she began birding seriously as a Girl Scout in the Panama Canal Zone at the age of 12. After returning to the US for college, she birded as often as possible and joined field surveys with the resident ornithologist at Texas A&M. After changing majors from Wildlife Biology to Fisheries Biology, birding became a weekend pursuit. A brief move to California reignited the more serious birder in her and led to a compulsion to travel for birding, seeking more and more exotic species to add to her life list. The Neotropics are an especially favorite destination and she has made many return trips to Panama and Costa Rica, seeing many new birds every time. The Old World is a new frontier for this birder and Israel during migration brings the birds to her. After a trip to the Hula Valley Bird Festival in 2017, she was introduced to Champions of the Flyway and the Eilat Bird Festival. Instantly hooked, she knew she would return and attended the Eilat Festival in 2019 and formed a mini COTF team for a 12-hour race. Amy participated in the 2020 and 2022 team as is hoping to be able to join the 2023 team as well.. COTF fulfills many passions, most importantly supporting bird conservation in any way possible.