Youth development and Bird Camps update
Birds go on – birdwatchers on hold
A message from Tomas Axén Haraldsson
The current situation with the spread of the corona virus, and not least the consequences of all the emergency measures, has caused countries and societies to shut down and also has an impact on the work of OSME. We have over the last few years focused a lot, and been succesful, in having birds and bird migration to bring young people together and exchange experiences and build friendships; that aspect of our work has taken a real blow since we are now not supposed to be meeting people at all. Traveling across regions/countries is currently not possible and to get peoples committment, and raise funds, is also of course difficult with an unknown time ahead of us.
The planned Bird Camp on northern Cyprus this spring together with Kuskor, BirdLife Cyprus and BirdLife Sweden has been postponed to autumn 2020. We are in regular contact to see when exactly it can be done. But an inspirational partnership, logistics, birding sites and most of the funding is ready to go! At Besh Barmag in Azerbaijan, the planned next step is another major bird migration count for the entire autumn 2020. But in this situation, it is likely to be of a much smaller scope. Included in the autumn plan were also several youth and capacity building activities, we have a running dialogue to see what can be done. This work is lead by a German-Azeri-Swedish team and partly funded by OSME. There are also other sponsors but given the situation its impossible to get any confirmations at this stage. The construction of the new highway along the Caspian Sea coast is running straight through the counting site area and will negatively impact our work there. The question is how much, and when its ready for traffic. During a visit in early March 2020 the road construction site seemed deserted, no machinery in view and now clue as to whether the work will continue soon, or later. Or how the situation will be this autumn. Just the gravel ”road” as a gash through the coastal landscape.
The Besh team has located a new potential counting spot, at the widest distance from the highway to the shoreline. The hotel/restaurant facility used last time is also available now. The team has established a very good and progressive relation with the Azerbaijani State Tourism Agency that wants to develop Besh Barmag as a birdwatching tourism destination. The idea is to safeguard an area for birdwatching and migration counts and this has also been confirmed by the road construction company. So, despite the many question marks the situation sounds at least hopeful. The Besh Barmag Bird Migration Count team will update as soon as decisions are made for the autumn. Be sure to follow their Facebook page ”Birding Azerbaijan”. In Lebanon things are similar; on hold but still brewing and with a common wish not to let the wheels grind to a halt completely. The plan for autumn 2020 still lives, and it is to hold another raptor migration count with awareness raising and capacity building components like autumn 2019. We have achieved great results with the burst of youth camps; three in less than a year! The planned youth exchange for some young Lebanese naturalists to Swedish bird observatories, as was so succesfully done in summer 2019, has been postponed.
The plans for activities in Aswan, southern Egypt, are under dialogue but pretty much paused at the moment. Hopefully the corona situation will have abated and things will be doable at the time for this planned youth camp which is in winter 2020/2021.
So, in the meantime please do enjoy some of the attractive and inspiring reports of previous activities!
The autumn counts at Besh Barmag 2018 in the recent Sandgrouse: https://osme.org/2020/03/latest-issue-of-sandgrouse-free-to-download/
The Raptor Count and awareness raising in Lebanon 2019: https://issuu.com/spnl/docs/raptorcount_lebanon_2019
The short documentary from the Bird Camp at Besh Barmag in April 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZf6-mPuXDs
Tomas Axén Haraldsson
OSME Youth Development Officer