Imagine being in one of the world’s best spots for visible migration, in right time, surrounded by talented and inspiring birdwatchers and doing this for good cause – doesn’t that sound good? Well, this is what Champions of the Flyway is about. It is a fund raiser against illegal killing of the migratory birds around the Mediterranean Sea and a famous bird race, which takes place in southern Israel each March. The Zeiss Arctic Redpolls is one of the teams that Zeiss Sport Optics has supported during many years.
We are a group of 4 birdwatchers from Finland. We had scored the 2nd place on 2015 and 1st place on 2016, so the burden of winning had worn off. We aimed to have a nice intensive day of birdwatching and lots of good time. We were also putting the new Gavia Conquest spotting scope on a hard test.
Will it be an asset in the game or should it be dumped? Well, we got what we aimed for and more – here is how it all rolled out.
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.