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Norfolk team to take part in international bird race in Israel

PUBLISHED: 16:18 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:18 31 January 2018

Mike Dawson Picture: Courtesy Mike Dawson

Mike Dawson Picture: Courtesy Mike Dawson

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A team of bird watching enthusiasts from Norfolk are set to take part in an international bird race in Israel later this year.

Nick Baker. Picture: Courtesy Nick BakerNick Baker. Picture: Courtesy Nick Baker

Champions of the Flyway, which will be held in the coastal city of Eilat in March, will see teams from around the world compete to identify the most species in a 24 hour period.

The Norfolk team is made up of Duncan Macdonald, the owner of natural history book specialist Wildsounds; Guy Kirwan, ornithologist, editor and author; Nick Baker, naturalist, TV presenter and writer; and Mike Dawson, director at Swallowtail Print which specialises in natural history publications.

Mr Dawson said that while the event was “tremendous fun”, it also had a serious side to it.

“The competition aims to raise money for BirdLife International to combat the illegal hunting of migrant birds in the Mediterranean.

Black kites in a tree in Israel. Picture: MIKE DAWSONBlack kites in a tree in Israel. Picture: MIKE DAWSON

“Each team is tasked with raising funds and we have set ourselves the target of £3,700 but would like to beat that.”

He said team members paid for their own costs to take part and all funds raised would go to conservation efforts.

The event is organised by the Israeli Ornithological Centre (IOC) and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

Israel is a focus area of bird migration between Africa, Europe and Asia and is one of the few countries where hunting is not an issue.

Champions of the Flyway, an international bird event, is set to take place in Israel in March. Picture: MIKE DAWSONChampions of the Flyway, an international bird event, is set to take place in Israel in March. Picture: MIKE DAWSON

Funds raised this year will go towards combating the illegal killing of birds in Croatia and Serbia.

“Teams are given 24 hours to see as many species as they can,” said Mr Dawson.

“The event takes place in an area just north of Eilat and we expect to cover around 200km’s during the 24 hours.”

He said they would spend “about three to four days” in the area beforehand to identify the best bird watching sites such as beaches, salt pans and areas where there was water and greenery.

Species they could expect to see included birds of prey, storks, herons, cuckoos and swallows and swifts.

“Last year 185 species were identified.”

The team is supported by bird-care company Jacobi Jayne and Suffolk-based optics manufacturer Viking Optical.

To donate visit: Living With Birds

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