The Zeiss Harpies

Half human, half bird-of-prey, ready to whip up a stormy wind in the Negev? Or just a nod to ZEISS’s flagship spotting scope, the Harpia? Either way, The ZEISS Harpies are eager to get out into the field and enjoy the fantastic birding and friendly competition that COTF offers, while raising money for important on-the-ground conservation in the process. Comprised of two Brits and two Germans (living across four different countries), this pan-European team cements that idea that birding has no borders – an importance concept for migratory birds, such as the Red-breasted Geese along the Asian–European flyway that this year’s COTF is fund-raising for. The team will be travelling light – with the new featherlight ZEISS SFL binoculars around their necks, The ZEISS Harpies are ready to bird with their heads held high from early morning to late into the night!

Meet the Team:

Stephen Menzie

Stephen Menzie is editor of British Birds journal, a member of the British Birds Rarities Committee and was, from March 2020 to March 2023, manager of the world-famous Falsterbo Bird Observatory. In previous jobs, he worked for BirdGuides/NatureGuides (including project managing the development of the Collins Bird Guide app) and for The Sound Approach. Originally from Liverpool, UK, he emigrated to Sweden in early 2020 and now lives in the southern city of Malmö. Stephen has a deep interest in identification, moult and ageing. He enjoys sharing this interest with others, through online and in-person talks or simply through discussions in the field. He is a ZEISS Ambassador and an occasional tour leader for WINGS Birding. Despite having visiting Israel twice in the past, this will be his first time participating in COTF. You can follow him on Instagram @stephenmenzie

Petra Kregelius-Schmidt

Petra Kregelius-Schmidt is based in Frankfurt, Germany, but originally comes from the Black Forest. She has loved nature since childhood, inspired by her grandfather. She seized the opportunity to share her passion for nature and birds in 2016, working as a Global Marketing Manager for ZEISS’s nature-observation equipment. Her primary responsibility in the role is to collaborate closely with partners across the world, not only regarding the optical products but also in relation to conservation projects. She has been a longtime friend and supporter of Champions of the Flyway, but 2023 will be the first year she has joined a team to take part in the race.

Toby Carter

Toby Carter is based in rural Leicestershire, England. Has been a keen birder since he was five years old, when his grandparents took him to Titchwell RSPB reserve. This initial spark has grown into the passion that Toby possess today. Toby has been closely associated with ZEISS since 2019, first as an Ambassador and, from October 2022 onwards, as a Business Development Executive for ZEISS UK, where he deals with optical products, running events, and creating partnerships and opportunities for ZEISS. Toby has participated in Champions of the Flyway before; in 2019, he was part of Team Swallowtail. You can follow him on Instagram @toby_carter1 and on Twitter @_TCartz

Daniel Bloche

Daniel Bloche is a birdwatcher and ringer from Germany. He spent several years living (and birding) in Denmark, where he studied Red-backed Shrikes for his Master thesis at Copenhagen University. He now lives in Israel, where he is working with Woodchat Shrikes and other passerines as part of his PhD studies. Last year, while volunteering at the International Bird Research Centre in Eilat, Daniel took part in COTF with the ZEISS IBRC team. He is looking forward to another wonderful day completing in COTF.