Newsletter from Gunnar Engblom
This is a very exciting newsletter with10 topics, for example The-Best-Bird-of-the-World Cup, an attempt to break the Big DAY World Record, the Future of Birdwatching, How to Niche an Ecolodge into a Birding Lodge, stunning Bird Photography from Peru by Glenn Bartley and several articles from Peru about our recent AvistarPeru event in Lima, Pelagics, Whalewatching, the popular selection of a New National Bird of Peru, etc.
It is a bit long to read completely, so I have done teasers so you can click through to get the full story for each article. Mark this mail to read it later and please consider sending it forward to a birding friend. I hope you like it.
TIP: If you use lots of different devices, such as Ipad, laptop and a smartphone with Internet I suggest you try Instapaper which works like magic to transform web-pages to reader-friendly articles you can save for later reading across the devices.
1. Bird World Cup
Make sure you follow this exciting December game to choose the Ultimate Bird of the World. Right now we are playing Quarter finals. The games are as follows:
- Spoon-billed Sandpiper vs Kakapo
- Marvelous Spatuletail vs Wandering Albatross
- Harpy Eagle vs Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise
- Philippine Eagle vs Shoebill
How can one choose, when they all are good birds. And why was your favorite missing? It didn’t make through round 2 (where you can see photos of all) last week nor the Facebook filter the week before. Yet, here we are with 8 matches played and entering the quarterfinals. Vote HERE!
2. The biggest Day
The year was 1982. Scott has later told me that they had around 300 species already by 11 AM, and that they from then on searched for more birds rather casually.
They did not have access to terra firme and did not use motorized vehicles. The record was beaten in Kenya by John Fanshawe and Terry Stevenson who recorded 342 birds on a single day, but also using light aircraft.
I have often thought that these records could be beaten in Peru with modern playback equipment. This year it will happen. In fact there shall be a competition between the US and Peru in September 2012 at Explorer’s Inn. BirdingBlogs’ Rich Hoyer is on the US team and I am on the Peru team. The whole thing shall likely be filmed by Adventure Birding TV. Read more about this birding event of the year on Birdingblogs.com……
Maybe you want to join us?
3. The future of birding
I am wondering if traditional birding as we birders knows it really has a future. You know, the whole listing game and the finer arts of bird identification. Are Big Days or Big Years really that interesting to people in general? Is twitching? Can birding really become main stream, and will listing be interesting enough for masses of people? The only thing regarding watching birds that seems to become main stream is bird feeding, and hard-line birders argue that that is not really birding.
Did you ever wonder why there are more hunters in the world than birders? Why are there more people interested in fishing than in birding? For all I know, there are probably even more stamp-collectors than birders.
Maybe that is the point. Birding is just a collection of observations. At the end of the day, you only write down in a notebook (or insert in a database) your observations – and if you are really lucky, you can put a tick in the check box in a yearlist or a lifelist or next to the bird’s name in the birdbook.
Take a look at yourself, and try to explain to a non-birder, that that is really exciting. A hunter or a fisherman at least gets a trophy. A stamp collector at least has the actual stamps. But YOU, what do YOU have? You have a tick in a checklist! Try to explain to the non-birder, that this really is more exciting than train spotting.
Read the rest of this article on Birdingblogs.com.
4. Jaw dropping bird photography from Peru by Glenn Bartley
Once in a while you come across bird photography that is so jaw-dropping that you simply want to throw your camera to the floor in dispair and scream “I need a new camera with a longer lens, more megapixels and a flash as strong as sunlight”. Then you buy a new camera only to realize that the results are still not what you wanted. The simple truth is of course that you suck as a bird photographer.
Glenn Bartley is a professional photographer, who just returned from a 3 month trip in Peru, and has produced the best set of photos from Peru I have ever seen. Not only of common species, but some that are rarely photographed. The Long-whiskered Owlet for example at the top of this post, is of a species so rare that it has only been documented with some shaky video and a few half decent shots. I have only seen the bird once, and then it was a dark object flying from one perch to another without actually seeing the bird sitting. That is all, after some 5-6 tries for the species.
Fortunately, for those of us who suck, Glenn organizes bird photography workshop in the Neotropics. I was fortunate enough to get Glenn to agree on an interview for Birdingblogs and I am allowed to share some of his amazing photos from Peru. Check out the rest of the interview with Glenn Bartley on Birdingblogs.com. Check this video too
5. How to niche a nature lodge to a birding lodge.
Ten years ago, the Wattled Curassow was thought to be practically extirpated from Peru. Then came rumors of sightings by fishermen from the fishing village of San Juan de Yanayacu. All of a sudden the Wattled Curassow was not only present in Peru, but in fact quite accessible.
Of the three areas in South American where you can spot one, Yanayacu is the easiest. In Bolivia it is a very long journey and at the site in the Brazilian Amazon, the birds are difficult to see. So for a very special birds and a fantastic Varzea/Igapó experience the Yanayacu area has a secure place for visiting birders in the future.
I visited Amazon Refuge Lodge on Yanayacu. They have initiated a new program to turn the eco-lodge into a birding lodge with a 10 step program recounted here. The strategy can be used for any lodge really. Check out 10 ways to turn an eco-lodge into a birding lodge.
6. Avistar Peru
I already talked about Avistar in the last newsletter that ran Nov 2-6, 2011. just wanted to make a fast recap of the event. It lasted 3 days in Miraflores. We had several excursions to near and afar. At least 5000 people attended the fair. 192 photographers participated in the bird photo contest. Here you find the 10 best photos in the dslr category and in the compact camera categories. Around 380 people went birding, most who had never been birding before. We got quite good media coverage and we formed a small group of people who go birding together in the weekends.
Birding in Peru shall grow much in the way I discussed in “the future of birding” above. We can already see how people enjoy to share photos on the newly created groups Facebook.com/avesdelima and Facebook.com/avesdePeru.
7. Peru’s national bird
Unofficially Cock of the Rock is the national bird of Peru, but it has never been established by congress or a presidential decree. This void can be used to start debate in Peru about the virtues of electing a new bird as national for the sake of conservation, of environmental education and simply as a tourist attraction.
The top seeded candidates in the first round are Marvelous Spatuletail, Condor, Cock of the Rock, Inca Tern and Junin Grebe. Check out all 10 candidates on AvistarPeru (in Spanish).
By bashing up interest on Facebook, we hope that in the next stage we can present the idea to PromPeru (the state tourism agency) and Sernanp (the conservation agency) and the biggest newspaper in Peru and with their help take the contest with the 5 top candidates to the next level. In a similar program in Taiwan they got over 1 million votes between five candidates. It would surely be a great publicity scoop for the birds of Peru when this happens. If you like to vote in the first round, check out the Facebook Question and vote.
8. Whalewatching in Lima
Peru is really megadiverse for Cetaceans. If you’re fascinated with whales and dolphins, and live off a coastline that harbors over a third of all cetacean species in the world , you’d be crazy not trying to go out there and see them. If you don’t live here, let me introduce you to 15 species you can see off Peru. Maybe, you’d like to come to Peru and see some of them. Check out the rest of this post if you like dolphins and whales.
9. 20 best pelagic birds of Lima, part 1
Above is one of the most sought by the pelagic fanatics. The Ringed Storm-Petrel (aka as Hornby’s Storm-Petrel). We present the 10 best birds here, and hope that you can name the remaining ten for part 2, by adding your favorites to the list.
10. Kolibri Expeditions 2012
Finally a few sentances about Kolibri Expeditions programs in 2012. First of all until Dec 31, 2011, we are starting the VIP club. For a contribution of $500 VIP club members get 10% off on all tours and several free daytrips in Lima, including pelagics, starting in 2012 for as long as they live. The $500 will be invested in infrastructure for birders in Peru. Hurry up, the offer ends on 31st of Decmeber. Read more about it here.
Even if you don’t want to join the VIP club at this point, but still concider coming on a trip with us in 2012, do check out our tour Calendar. If you order your trip with a deposit before Dec 31, you are entitled to our low 2011 prices. The calendar has many intersting trips such as Central Peru and Northern Peru with Marvelous Spatuletail coming up. There are even trips to Argentina (Patagonia) and Chile with Juan Fernandez archipelago in this years program.
Finally, wishing everyone Merry Christmas – somewhat embarrising, but I wanted to offer you something really special – me singing, or whatever you shall call it.. so please don’t laugh.
This is for you! Merry Christmas!
Photo credits: Long-whiskered Owlet and Common Potoo Glenn Bartley, Marvelous Spatuletail by Roger Ahlman, Ted Parker photo by Haroldo Castro, Peruvian Birders by Barbara J. Fraser all other photos by Gunnar Engblom. All rights reserved.
Eight ideas to make birding huge.
Most of the time I am busy either guiding Kolibri Expeditions tours, making arrangements for the tours (although Victor has been relieving me some lately) and conversations via email with clients. But sometimes, I get ideas – that totally consume me. And it is particularly one of those ideas that have kept me off my own blog lately.
The idea of BirdingBlogs.com.
And within Birdingblogs new ideas have formed.
I thought in this newsletter, that I’d present some of the ideas that have consumed me. It is not really sane to get this many ideas, but I hope that with considerable delegation at least some of these ideas can become something grand and live their own life and inspire others. Ideas do that!
You can’t own an idea.
The idea becomes everyone’s.
If you want to take part in any of this, check out the links of each item. Leave comments below or send me an email if you want contribute in any way.
1. Birdingblogs.com – the idea.
- Supply top content
- supply hot birding news
- publish daily
- upload lots of pictures
- be somewhat provocative, edgy, funny or witty – some of the time
- share – everywhere
- build a community of followers in the social media platforms
But to be on top of things – and run a business at the same time is simply too much. The solution was to gather several writers to one blog. Birdingblogs.com. Even if we’ve slacked a bit lately, we are getting a lot of traffic – and the future looks very bright as GrrlScientist Deborah Bennu has been added to the team. A bit over a month ago, Charlie Moores, previously at 10000birds also joined us. The other birdingbloggers on this site are Kenn Kaufman, Tom McKinney, Dawn Fine, Dale Forbes, Rebecca Nason, Rich Hoyer, György Szimuly, Susan Myers and myself. It is a great team. It is a bit intimidating to be among these great writers and photographers. At the end of this post I shall present some of the work of my partner bloggers.
2. Avistar Peru. Birding Festival in Lima Peru.
I always felt it was sort of my duty to “teach” Peruvians about birding. How pretentious!
Fact remains. Can you imagine that there is no national organization for birders in Peru. In spite of this, there are some good signs that something is happening. I know of several local bird and nature clubs in Puerto Maldonado, Chiclayo and Iquitos. The Spanish language site www.avesdelima.com is around position 28 on Fatbirder Top1000 website about birding and gets around 1200 unique page views daily. Surely, there is a latent interest among Peruvians to discover birding and nature in general. Lima with 8 milion inhabitants is the place to start.
We are copying a concept already active in Sao Paolo, Brazil – Avistar Brasil. We shall bring Peruvian people who like nature together in the first Peruvian Birding Festival for the general public. During 3 days Nov 2-4 at PARQUE KENNEDY in Miraflores, there will be a trade fair with 22 stands, activities for kids, photo and art exhibitions and workshops covering topics such as the Wetlands of Pantanos de Villa, the water drainage of the Rimac valley and a call to start a Peruvian version of Audubon Society. During the weekend Nov 5-6 we shall do several excursions in the vicinity of Lima, including trips up the Santa Eulalia Valley to see the Condor and a pelagic. If you are around you don’t want to miss the opportunity. And if you have something to contribute to the workshops let us know. You find more information in this recent blogpost about Avistar Peru.
The Neotropical Ornithologicl Congress is held in Cusco Nov 8-14, why it is a good idea to combine the two events.
3. Birdingblogs top list
I am sure you have heard of Fatbirder Top 1000 and NatureBlogNetwork. Here you find an attempt to rank birding sites and natureblogs. Having created the multi-author blog, I thought it would be great if we could share some of the lime-light with those birders who still blog on their own. They are quite heroic – and I admire them. There are now over thirty birdingblogs signed up on the birdingblogs top list. If you have a blog about birding that you write yourself, please submit. Read more about the idea and the rules for the toplist here.
4. World Birding Tour Network
This is a similar idea. Apart from getting overall and regional toplists for number of visitors to birdwatching tour operator sites, this idea when built out will become a bird tour operator directory. Useful, for clients – and useful for inter company relations. There really should be more networking between birding companies. Read more on the same blogpost as above and sign up to the toplist here.
5. Virtual BirdFair
Some of you may have seen this already last year. I love the idea of the British Birdfair – where the birders can find everything they need at one place and at the same time there is loads of money collected for conservation. Participating does come at a price, though. Not only does it become extremely expensive for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, but one carbon footprint we leave behind is huge. What if there was an alternative way? Could you participate virtually? How about an online virtual birdfair? Not a competition to the real thing, but as a compliment. The idea is quite limitless. And again it would be used to raise money to a conservation project. Also, it does not need to cover only the British Birdfair, but all the major fairs and festivals around the world. I’d like to get 10 people together that could develop this idea together. Check out more on the virtual birdfair in this blogpost. And do provide feedback, and let me know if you want to be on the team.
6. Satipo road Lodge
Show the community an example similar to their reality, which has become a booming eco-tourism project. Well, this is what Kolibri Expeditions did, when we brought 6 campesinos from Central Peru to Mindo in Ecuador. Here are two older posts that gives you the right background to this idea.
The project is running well, and RainForest Partnership is doing important work in the area. Right now there are 6 beds with linen in a temporary room, but the lodge will soon start to be built. We assist with booking for independent visitors. It is essential that the visits are coordinated before arrival.
The area is in need of a new name. In Rainforest Partnership’s perspective Satipo road is not good to use when raising funds from non-birders. They have used the name Pampa Hermosa, which would have been logic as it is the name of the district covering all the communities. The problem is there is already two Pampa Hermosa in Peru known to the birders: Pampa Hermosa near San Ramon, which has a lodge and a reserve with the same name nearby; and Pampa Hermosa in Ucayali, which is the last settlement to travel up the Cushabatay river to search for Scarlet-banded Barbet in mountains of Cordillera Azul. We don’t need yet another Pampa Hermosa.
On Kolibri Expeditions Facebook page you may now vote for a new alternative if you are on Facebook. Vote here! I’ll be interested in seeing which of the 3 names proposed you prefer. Or maybe you will come up with a better suggestion.
7. Birding is changing.
This is an old post about “How to become a birder in the 21st Century“. The notion that the birder of tomorrow (which is already here), is not so interested in only seeing. They want to photograph. Bring something home at the end of the day. An observation will only stick in memory – at best – and may be soon forgotten, but a photo sticks forever as it can be shared and it can be viewed over and over again. We recently had a Thai group visiting us in Peru – and although they called themselves birders, they were more interested in photographing birds than getting a long list. My guess is that we shall see more of this. Our birding tours are now complemented with bird photography tours.
This means, if you allow me to return to the topic Avistar Peru above, that if we are to convert Peru’s masses to birders, we have to bird as much through cameras than binoculars. When writing manuals for birding for beginners which we intend to do in Lima, the text should focus on what kind of cameras are good for birding. It is more likely the newbie invests first in a camera than a pair of binoculars. If we old school birders don’t realize this, we will see birding getting less and less active users in the younger generations. But, if we adapt to the new reality, we could create armies of people that care about nature and are in need of birding services. Good for businesses (as mine), good for conservation and good for rural communities that have special birds.
8. Birding infrastructure, fidelity and innovation
I think, Peru will become the birding Mekka eventually. There are more birds here than anywhere else except for Colombia. The combination with archeology, fantastic food, culture and great nature is simply unbeatable. But it will not happen overnight and it is clear that the Peruvian State organ PromPeru won’t lead, although they have done some showy tradeshows the last decades. It is up to entrepreneurs with a broad vision to make it happen. We need more birders to come to Peru in order to make birding businesses profitable and allowing rural areas to opt for conservation and eco-tourism. But to get more visitors Peru needs more specific infrastructure for birders.
My idea is that we could do this together. Peru is such a huge country that allows for many trips. If you consider using our services, you can save a lot of money when you sign up to Kolibri Expeditions’ VIP Club. This is a very novel idea and I’d like to get your feedback. Everone gains. You save money, Kolibri Expeditions secures future clients, infrastructure for birders is created and communities start caring about conserving nature as they provide services for visiting birders. I have prepared a VERY SPECIAL OFFER. It is time limited, so you have best to act quickly. Read more …………
The Birding Bloggers
Below follows the descriptions of the bloggers on birdingblogs. The link on the name gives you the latest posts of that author. I also enclose one of my favorite posts for each blogger. Do check them out, because they are great posts.
Tom McKinney has been birding for over 20 years and has birded on every continent, other than the continents he’s not yet been to. He is famed for having found Britain’s first Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler and then waking up and realising it had all been a beautiful, beautiful dream. When not birding he enjoys going to Ladbrokes and writing short biographical entries about himself in a 3rd person voice.
Here is a funny post about how to identify and mis-identify plugs.
Dale Forbes has always felt at home in nature. He started birdwatching as a young kid. Then got in to ornithology. Then more conservation biology. He grew as a birder, loving it more with every day. He now works for Swarovski Optik making awesome toys for birders (product/marketing manager) and is an obsessed digiscoper. Dale writes his regular post Birdingblogs.com every Sunday. All his posts contain mindblowing digiscoping images, however the feature post I want to highlight here is slightly comical: British birders – a separate subspecies.
Kenn Kaufman was captivated by birds at the age of six, Kenn Kaufman burst onto the North American birding scene as a teenager, hitch-hiking around the continent in pursuit of new species; those adventures were later chronicled in a book, Kingbird Highway, which has become a cult classic. Kenn went on to lead birding tours on all seven continents and to become a prolific writer. He’s now a field editor for Audubon magazine, on the editorial board for WildBird, and a columnist for Birder’s World and Bird Watcher’s Digest. His own Kaufman Field Guides series includes volumes on North American birds in English and Spanish, the recently acclaimed second edition of Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding, butterflies and mammals. Kenn lives in northern Ohio with his wife, Kimberly, who is currently executive director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. His most recent post on Birdingblogs about the new Warbler taxonomy hit the ceiling in numbers of hits. In spite of this, I’d like to highlight his environmental fight against windpower at the wrong place: Location matters.
Rebecca Nason is a passionate female bird photographer, birder & bird ringer currently based on the Suffolk coast, UK. She has been a freelance bird photographer, tour-leader & ecologist since 2005 after working on Fair Isle, Shetland as Assistant Warden & Seabird Officer for 2 years, a place she now regards as a second home! Rebecca enjoys world travel & promoting birds & conservation through imagery, tour-leading, ecology work & talks. Her photography is simply mind blowing. Jump into any of here posts and you will see. Here is a favorite of mine: The Puffins on Fair Isle.
Dawn Fine is a birder, a blogger, hiker, Nature lover, mushroom picker, Full-time RV-er since September 2001, Blogaholic and founder of “Birders who Blog, tweet and chirp”. Dawn is a master to connect with birders and nature lovers on Facebook and Twitter. She reads and comments on collossal amounts of blogs. She is our window to other bird bloggers, whom she shares with us once every month presenting awesome bloggers. It is quite hard to chose among such many brilliant presentations of other bloggers, but one that I like a lot is the recent one about Bathrobe Birder Robin Robinson of The Back Story – My controlled Chaos.
Rich Hoyer is first and foremost a birder whose subconscious registers and identifies every bird he hears, even when he isn’t birding. But he actually started keying out wildflowers , catching reptiles, and raising butterflies before he discovered birding at age 14, and has since branched out to enjoy photographing and identifying dragonflies, grasshoppers, spiders and almost anything else alive. For the past 13 years he has been leading birding and natural history tours for WINGS. Among his regular destinations are Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, the Galapagos, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Jamaica. Originally from Oregon, he currently lives in Tucson, Arizona. Rich has been blogging a lot about these places on Birdingblogs. They are all great posts. One recent post that was extremely useful to me was Digiscoping with an iPhone.
Charlie Moores has been blogging since 2004 and (he thinks) has not yet run out of things to talk about. He used to be on the prime birding site 10000birds, but now he is with us and his own blog/podcast Talking Naturally as well. We are very lucky to have him. His conservation engagement is legendary. One of the most important posts this year is the one he wrote on Malta: How do we solve a problem like Maria Malta
GrrlScientist is an evolutionary biologist, ornithologist and science writer. She write a science blog for the Guardian, another one for Nature, and a more personal blog at Scientopia. And now she writes at Birdingblogs.com. She has only been with us for three weeks, but we hope she shall provide some great articles about birds and science. The first one out was about the sex-life of White-throated Sparrows. It is not unusual that there are different reproduction strategies within a specific bird species, but here the strategy has been nailed down to a specific chromosome. Mind blowing article on science that everyone can understand.
Top photo: Junin and Silvery Grebe by Alejandro Tello.
How to become world famous in a day?
Either you do something sensational – or you do something really stupid. It is quite clear that the latter is far easier to bring you world fame. Take this football player from Panama, Luis Moreno, who plays for the Colombian team Deportivo Perreira, for instance. He kicked the Barn Owl, that lived on top of the Roberto Meléndez Stadium in Barranquilla and which home-team Junior Barranquilla had made official mascot. The Owl had accidentally entered the football ground during the ongoing game and had just been hit by a ball, the game stopped and a few seconds later it got a final kick that looks gut-turning disgusting on the video-flcks on You Tube.
That was a very stupid thing to do – and now he is famous all over the world. Infamous is a better word.
But did Luis Moreno purposely kill the owl?
How could anyone sane be so incredibly cruel? Why would anyone want to hurt the mascot of the opposing team? Let’s analyze the situation.
- Perreira is loosing 2-1 and only 14 minutes left to play. The owl is on the ground (the story does not tell us why) and get hit by a ball. I lies on the ground and will obviously obstruct the game.
- The defender Moreno obviously never treated live birds and did not know what to do.
- The heat of the situation, effectively loosing the game, and with very little time to equalize, he does a very stupid thing to get the bird over the sideline. He kicked it. Definitely not the action you and I as birders would take.
He says to the press he did not mean to hurt the bird and just wanted to get it over the sideline. I have no reason not to believe him.
- You can see from the video that he stands still when he kicks the Owl and that he gets the whole foot under the owl, not shooting with the stretched ankle which is usual for try to hit the ball hard.
- You can also see from the top photo that he leans back and has a very raised leg supporting his statement that he has been trying to shove the owl over the sideline.
- The Owl, which has been hit three times – first by the ball and then by Moreno’s foot and the impact of hitting the ground, is taken into treatment. We still don’t know how it got on the ground in the first place. Did it fly into a window or something?
- The first reports says the owl was OK basically OK. Nothing broken – but a bit in a shock.
- The Owl dies 30 hours later in a state of shock. The cause of death that has been mentioned: Excessive handling.
In the end, it was probably not Moreno who killed it but the sum of the hits, the shock and the handling. It was still a stupid thing to do!
After the incident Moreno will face suspension and fines from the Colombian Football Federation and has received death threats. He says he is regretful, did not mean to harm the bird, and thinks the world is over-reacting. Best to leave this sad incident behind and get on with it, he adds.
Wrong, totally wrong strategy.
I have done a lot of stupid things in my life, often not realizing the consequences at the time of action. But seemingly none of my mistakes have been stupid enough to make me world famous. What does one do for damage controle, when one does something stupid? Just ask for forgiveness does not put things right.
On top of everything his daughter is throwing out insults to left and right against Colombians in general on her Facebook, becauseof the hate messages directed to her dad.
Uuuj! Social Media will only makes things worse.
Shouldn’t this guy start donating to animal welfare charities and do some penance work instead?
Put yourself in Luis Moreno’s owl-kicking shoes. What would you do if you were him?