Cape May Birders Win International Competition in Israel


Photo courtesy: Champions of the Flyway

CAPE MAY, NJ – Not only can Cape May claim one of the world’s best birding places and some of the best birders, but now two Cape May birders have taken the first place trophy in an international birding competition on the other side of the world.

The American Dippers team – Michael O’Brien of West Cape May and Glen Davis of Cape May Point, along with two other birders with Cape May connections, Jeff Bouton and Doug Gochfeld -  finished first in the “Champions of the Flyway – 2015” an annual birding competition in Israel.

That event, similar to Cape May’s World Series of Birding, is one of THE major international birding competitions.

“Champions of the Flyway” pits teams from many countries against each other and the clock.

On March 25, 31 birding teams represented by 135 contestants started at midnight in Eilat, at the southern tip of Israel and searched within hundreds of square miles in Israel for 24 hours. The goal was to see as many bird species as possible. The winning team is the one that sees the most species.

Competitors in the event came from Great Britain, Spain, South Africa, Cyprus, Finland, Netherlands, Estonia, and, of course Israel. The event raises tens of thousands of dollars every year for bird conservation causes. The focus for 2015 is Cyprus, where more than a million birds are killed for food and sport every year as they migrate between Europe and Africa. See the American Dippers page to contribute. 

O’Brien (2nd from left above) and Davis (far right) are bird competition veterans, having competed more than 20 times in Cape May’s World Series of Birding. O’Brien is a bird artist, who also writes books and leads birding tours for VENT tours in North and South America, and beyond. A leader in the field of recording and identifying bird sounds, O’Brien is a regular on the walking trails and birding hotspots of Cape May.

Davis is a birding tour leader for Birdquest, an ecotourism company. He also does bird survey work and in his spare time he can be found roaming the open spaces below the Cape May Canal searching for, what else, birds.

04birder-award250Their team, the Cape May Bird Observatory American Dippers, is sponsored by the bird observatory and by Leica Sport Optics, a binocular and telescope manufacturer. Sponsorship for most teams comes from a combination of non-profit conservation organizations and corporate support. Sponsors also include ecotourism companies, including some that bring birders to Cape May each spring and fall.

That Cape May birders were the champions of this international birding competition, once again demonstrates that Cape May birders are among the best in the world! In part, that’s because they have one of the best places to train and hone their skills.

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About Paul Kerlinger

Paul Kerlinger, Ph.D. is a scientist, author and nationally known expert on bird migration. He's done extensive studies on hawks, Snowy Owls and neotropical song birds. Kerlinger is the former director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, His books include How Birds Migrate and Flight Strategies of Migrating Hawks. He's an ardent fly fisherman and organic vegetable gardener.