ZEISS Sponsor BBRC Champions of the Flyway Team 2016

The ZEISS BBRC Vagrants - The British Birds Rarities Committee Team

The Champions of the Flyway 2016 bird race is once again tackling the illegal killing of birds around the Mediterranean, and this year optics giants ZEISS are sponsoring the team from the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC), the ZEISS BBRC Vagrants. ZEISS are again proud to be supporting the annual bird race and the British Birds Rarities Committee.

The teams will be competing to try and see as many species in 24 hrs in southern Israel as possible, while trying to raise as much money as they can for the Hellenic Ornithological Society to combat wildlife crimes in Greece. The BBRC partnership with ZEISS has now lasted an impressive 34 years, and the valued sponsorship of the committee has enabled the BBRC to continue its work of documenting the occurrence of rare birds in Britain.

The BBRC are delighted that ZEISS have agreed to sponsor their team in the Champions of the Flyway 2016 race, and are looking forward to focussing their new VICTORY SF Binoculars on the avian delights that the Arava Valley has to offer.

The reason for the project

Sadly, recent reports highlight a very grim picture for migratory birds in Greece, where more than one million are illegally killed every year. The problem is widespread throughout the Greek Islands and on the mainland. There is a lot to be done on the ground in Greece and through the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) – BirdLife partner in Greece. The Champions of the Flyway will focus on two major projects:


The illegal shooting and trapping of Turtle Doves and other migratory species passing through the Greek Islands

The Greek Islands are known for their pristine beaches and breathtaking scenery. Hundreds of thousands of tourists choose to vacation here every year. Little do they know that just above the modern resorts and beaches lies a killing zone for thousands of birds. Together with HOS, Champions of the Flyway 2016 will highlight the situation on two of the biggest tourist islands – Santorini and Zakynthos. These islands host thousands of tourists at any given moment.

Some islanders use a variety of methods to shoot birds and trap them, all illegal and with utter disregard to any laws. One of the most common methods is called “The lakes”; where a bait bird in a cage is placed in the middle of a puddle of water, attracting other birds to run the gauntlet.

The illegal trapping of small songbirds for the cage bird black market

Cage birds are a big deal in Greece. Many finches and other small birds are regularly collected in great numbers by poachers all over Greece. There are many methods used to catch them and all are gruesome and illegal!

Wild birds are regularly sold online and in markets all over Greece, including the famous “underground” market in Athens and even more openly in pet shops in Athens too. As part of the conservation action we will target the poachers on the ground but we also aim to work with the city of Athens to stop the illegal trade. Anyone wishing to donate to the cause can do so at the following link http://www.champions-of-the-flyway.com/the-bbrc-vagrants/

Origional article provided by Paul French - Chairman of the BBRC.