People

An interview with Sören Rust

Sören, what got you interested in nature and birdwatching?

My family has always been very connected to nature. Both my parents are biologists, so I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child and I just grew up with nature, really.

I soon developed an interest in birds when I discovered just how many you can spot in your own back yard and how little I even knew about them. No sooner had I begun did I feel an overwhelming curiosity and I came across ever more species in and around the garden. During one of my various forays, I met another birdwatcher, who was also on the hunt for a kingfisher. He taught me about the Carl Zeiss Bird Station, and that’s when my passion for the pursuit came into its own.

Where does the Carl Zeiss Bird Station come into play?

The Carl Zeiss Bird Station is a fantastic place for ornithologists in and around Hamburg to meet. The Bird Station is situated in a key breeding and resting area for many birds and is equipped with excellent optics, which make it a great place to experience our feathered friends up close. The volunteers there immediately welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to take an active role myself. Not a month has gone by since my first visit that I haven’t been at least once – in fact, I usually stop by every week. I also very much enjoy showing interested visitors the Wedel Marsh and its birds, and I love watching the birds and capturing shots of them myself. As a volunteer, my duties include station service and assignments designed to ensure the birds always have a place to breed and rest.

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230 species spotted by the ZEISS team

How many species can be recorded during a 24h race inside the WP? At the end of 90’s and beginning of this century, scores were increasing, especially in countries like Finland, France and Estonia. In the latter country the European record was set up by a Finnish team, composed by Mika Bruun, Sampsa Cairenius, Jukka Hatva and Jan Nordblad on 25th May 1998 with a total a 190 species. After these scores, the Tramuntana Birding Team won the Spanish bird race organized by SEO/BirdLife, several time arriving for first time at 200 species in 2004, then 202 species in 2005, 204 species in 2006 and 217 species in the race of 2007. This was the absolute best European record for the last ten years.

They offer detailed information of their races at their blog (www.tbt.cat), where many pictures and the chronicle of each marathon for every year is available from that Catalan team, composed by Jordi Sargatal, Oriol Clarabuch, Deli Saavedra, Aleix Comas, Ponç Feliu and Joan Carles Gimisó. This high diversity of species recorded during spring migration is possible in Europe because in NE Spain a wide array of habitats and altitudes are present, from the sea and coastal wetlands to high mountains with alpine pastures, and steppes and different types of forests, allowing to find more than 200 species during a whole day.

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Interview with William Velmala

William Velmala is a well-known birder and ornithologist in Finland. He has been active in public science, having written some hundreds of magazine articles, book reviews and book chapters on birds. He has also had many confidential posts in ornithological societies, and is currently a member of both the Nomenclatural Committee and Rarities Committee of BirdLife Finland. Last autumn William was awarded the Silver Medal of BirdLife Finland.

William has quite an array of professional posts related to birds and ornithology. He has worked in the Finnish Ringing Scheme at the Finnish Museum of Natural History, as a PhD student at the Ecology Department at University of Turku, given bird classes at folk high schools and worked as a bird expert in a pest control company. Currently he is working as an Environmental Expert in a consultancy company Pöyry Finland Inc. and conducts field surveys on birds and bats, as well as environmental impact assessments and so on. We met William and asked about his passion for birds.

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