Tag Archives: Eilat Bird Festival

Birding Israel with Leica V-Lux

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One of the perks of a Leica sponsored trip to Israel for the “Champions of the Flyway” Bird Race is the use of Leica cameras and binoculars. I was given the Leica V-lux, a bridge camera to try out. A handy travel camera with a generous 20.1 megapixels and a large 1″ CMOS sensor, a combination of comparable high end cameras.  A fast F2.8 to f4, 25-400 mm zoom lens ( 16X zoom) that performs just as well shooting desert beetles to flying swifts and eagles. What impressed me was the surprising fast auto focus especially for flying birds. The best part is that once the camera locks on the subject, the image stays in view. The 12 frames per second made sure every action is captured. It is packed with all the must have features like manual focus assist, stabilizer and DIY function buttons for quick adjustments while shooting. The coolest feature for me is the wireless remote control with my smart phone, a feature that will be very useful for shooting nesting birds. It allows the photographer to be away from the nest and yet able to see the action and adjust zoom and other setting before clicking. 4K video is standard.

Sharing some of the photos taken by the V-Lux in Eilat. Still getting use to the camera.

Over looking to Jordan

The different hues of the desert landscape from buffy brown to dark grey are captured in this shot. Taken from the north south highway in southern Israel, Jordan is in the background.

Flying V Formation

Slender-billed Gulls flying in formation under a beautiful blue sky. 1/1800 F4 ISO 200

Alpine Swift

Swifts are small and fast flying. Capturing them in flight usually needs a high end DSRL camera. This elegant Alpine Swift was flying against strong head winds, just slow enough for me to get a respectable image. 1/4000 F5 ISO 640

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Beetle mania in the desert. These are tough survivors in the barren desert landscape. Fights over food is common. The V-lux can focus up to 3 cm for marco shots.

Goat herd

I like the depth of field of this shot. Precious herd of goats will provide the required sustenance for the local people staying in the Kibbutz. 

Slender-billed Gulls

Slender-billed Gulls returning to their roost shot against a setting sun. 1/1800, F4 ISO 320.

Bluethroat

This Bluethroat is shot under the shade so the colors are a little muted but still rich.

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Steepe (Common) Buzzards are the most common raptor migrating through the Eilat Mountains during Spring. 45,000 were counted in one day alone on 25th March. Most were of intermediate and rufous morph. I was able to freeze this flying buzzard shooting at a slow 1/500 sec hand held. 

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Blue skies contrasting with a grey hillside. A balance exposure is needed to show off both shades. This is one of the counting points for the migrating raptors at Eilat Mountains.

Hooded Whaetear

Getting the details of a black and white bird like this Hooded Wheatear needs almost prefect exposure. The blurred background helps to define the subject.

 

Champions of the Flyway 2017

In 2015 Birdlife International published a shocking report that 25 millions birds were illegally kill across the Mediterranean in a year. Now with its partners across the region Birdlife International is working tirelessly to stop this killing. One of these partners is Doga Dernagi of Turkey.

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The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, another Birdlife Partner, will be organising a 24 hours bird race called the Champions of the Flyway in conjunction with the Eilat Birds Festival 2017 to raise funds for the many projects that Doga Dernagi will be implementing towards the stopping of the illegal killing of migratory birds in Turkey.

 

Nineteen teams from all over the world will gather in Eilat this coming week to prepare for the race which starts at midnight on 28th March. Leica Camera AG Sports Optics Division will be sponsoring three teams from the USA and Europe to this year’s race.

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The Flyway Rushhour. Photo from the COTF website.

I am most grateful to Leica Camera Asia Pacific for sponsoring me to take part in this race. Honored to be their birding ambassador for South East Asia at the Bird Festival and Race. I have taken part in many bird races at home and abroad but this will be a totally new experience. For one thing the experienced teams can clock over 150 species in the 24 hours. Really looking forward to the race and making new birding friends.

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Thousand of raptors and storks will be funneling through the mountains of Eilat on their way north to Europe in Spring. It is one of the spectacles of the birding world.

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Spring migration of raptors over Israel.  Photo from COTF website.

 

 

The “Playing Field” for the Bird Race (left)

Joining me from Asia will be a team from China, The Golden Phoenix. This is the first time a team from China is taking part. I am looking forward to meet up with Menxiu Tong, one of the members. He took us birding around SE China last year.

You can follow the race on twitter and Facebook at #COTF. More about the race on this link:  COTF

You can also donate to the cause by clicking on this link. Donate