Thursday, February 4, 2010


If you had asked me yesterday whether I would ever create a blog, the answer would have been a resounding NO! But yesterday is in the past, and in a continuing effort to embrace change, presumably with good intentions, I've decided to give it a try. So what does one write about in a blog - apparently everything, thus making my choice of topics infinite. But let's be realistic - I'm really only going to write about something I'm inspired to write about, and I'm not likely to commit to a particular topic, task, or event that requires daily updates for the next year or more - heck, there are other things to do in life.

So here's the plan. I'm a wildlife biologist, with early beginnings as a "birder". Yes, a birder - a fanatical chaser and lister of all things feathered (but not tarred). I began birding at age 17, and now 21 years later I still passionately endeavour to watch birds, be it in my own backyard, at the local park, or in a country other than my own. When I started birding I chased everything - rare birds, new birds, birds out of their usual geographic range - and I kept copious lists: number of species seen in a calendar year, number of species seen in a particular place, most species seen at single location, most species seen in a single day, etc... Within five years, however, this version of "birding" wasn't doing it for me anymore. What I learned was that my real interest was in understanding the natural history, behaviour and ecology of birds, and learning about how everything fits together (a kind of "why does this species live here, but not there?" thing). But this blog is not about bird behavior, ecology, or natural history. Nor is it about answering, or pondering, how everything fits together. Its about birdwatching, but not in the strictest sense of chasing rarities or trying to see the most species in a day, a week, or a year, but in a more intrinsic sense where the goal is to simply see and appreciate (and given my roots, perhaps tally what was seen at the end of the day). So what will this blog entail...

To begin, as you may have already guessed by the title, this birding blog is about an upcoming trip to Panama. Why Panama - because that's where I happen to be going. Now I've already been to Panama twice: once for a biodiversity and climate change conference in 2008, and once as a birding trip in 2009 with my wife Joanna, who is also passionate about birds. The 2010 trip is expected to be similar to the latter, except this time I'm going with my Dad, who I wouldn't describe as a birder or even someone deeply passionate about birds - but he does have a keen interest in nature, and when we first planned to do this trip in November he was excited...and I think he still is. Of immediate interest to my dad is that this will be his first major trip to the tropics - he has been to Hawaii and St. Lucias via cruise ship, but in my mind those those don't really count. This trip to Panama will be a much truer experience of the tropics - we'll be on land, away from the buffet and shops, the entire time. Deep down I know he's excited about seeing the Panama Canal, which means I will likely to have to blog something on this as well.

It is approximately 5 weeks until departure day. We are leaving on March 13 and returning on March 21. Ultimately, we have 7 days to devote to birding and various other "leisure" activities. In the days and weeks prior to departure I'm going to discuss a range of things related to birding in Panama, including insights and experiences from previous trips, descriptions of destinations and species we expect/hope to see, and the kinds of equipment and preparation that goes into planning a [hopefully] successful trip. During the trip I will be posting birding highlights from both mine and my dads perspectives, a running total of species seen, a list of "lifers" (the term that birders use to describe having seen a species not previously seen), and other highlights that may make for interesting story-telling. Along with each post will be the inclusion of weblinks and photos - maybe even a video or two.

If you want to follow along, please do so by adding my link to your favourites. If you want to share similar stories, specifically related to birding in Panama, please send a comment. A word of warning though - don't send your comments in any language other than English - I'll have no idea what you're saying.

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