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How to survive as Birdguide during COVID 19?

Covid 19 birding in Lima
Every birding trip canceled between mid-March to September, and perhaps beyond.

If this COVID 19 pandemic has taught me one thing it is to not take anything for granted. This is certainly a time when it is necessary to be proactive. My situation is such that I need to stay very focused in order to provide streams of income. Not only for myself and my family, but also make a plan on how we can get the business going again, and how to pay the staff who are out of work.
In this blog post, I ‘ll go through some ways I have come up with to create small streams of income. Some perhaps only give a couple of dollars, others potentially more. Maybe these tips could also be ideas other birding guides and bird tour operators can take advantage of.

Vlogging on Facebook.


If you are on Facebook and you follow me you could hardly have escaped that I am vlogging – video blogging – almost daily sometimes two times per day. I think that even if there are no tours that run right now, and that sales will not happen on Facebook, it is important to keep potential clients in the loop. Additionally, I can’t do any paid marketing content at the moment since my credit card details were compromised and my credit card has been blocked for international and web use.

Live Video is the format that gives the best organic return with the Facebook algorithms. When I start broadcasting there will be a little popup saying so on your screen if you are connected and therefore one reaches more people than just posting a video.

I try to fill the broadcast with interesting stuff coming my way and update the prognosis when Peru will open. If I don’t have anything to say, I’d rather not broadcast.

Can this give any money? Nah, not really, but occasionally I will mention books I read, videos I watch, the gadgets I use. I have collected all these on an Amazon Shop page, and if you or anyone would purchase the products I mention through this page, I get a very, very small (3-6%) commission.  So do check out my Amazon page and the vlogs where I talk about recommended products. I assure you that I am only mentioning products I use myself and that like.

I have organized the Facebook vlogs chronologically on a YouTube and InstagramTV playlist, so you can follow these there too.

Blogging

I haven’t blogged as much as I could have. I will try to do more in the coming weeks. For this blog and others, I have activated Google Ads. I know this is a bit obtrusive, but when you click on any of these ads in generates a small income for me. Hopefully, Google’s algorithm has it figured out so the ads are relevant to you.
I can also out Amazon affiliate links to any product that I mention. Again, it is not a big stream of income, but it also does keep people in the loop of what we are doing here in Peru.

The blogs where I mostly write are these:

  • Kolibri Expeditions blog. This blog and mostly about birding.
  • GunnarEngblom.com. This is where I blog about books I read, films and series, my marathon training, life hacks, etc
  • BirdingBlogs. This used to be a multi-author blog, but activity has ceased. I occasionally post things here about birding if I don’t want it to have the Kolibri Expeditions brand all over it.
  • Birding 101. This is a blog/book project I started many years ago to incentivize new birders in the digital age. The blog has been dormant, but I plan to reactivate it.

I am also commencing a new blog on 7WondersBirding. There shall be two themes. One will be about the birding opportunities at the world heritage sites. The other about the 1000 best birds in the world which would be a reasonable lifetime birding bucket list. I hope to deliver one bird per day here, starting tomorrow.

Webinars

I did a series of live webinars on Facebook early on during the COVID crises, about the future of birding, and also explaining the ideas I have for new types of birding tours. You can check out the first four webinars on YouTube. I intend to do another three webinars, but looking to increase my internet speed as well as looking for a platform to stream to Facebook.

Guran Guran music and videos.

As many of you know, I have a band called Guran Guran, and I did a song called Birdparty and Feels like some Summer in English, plus a number of songs in Swedish.



Live videos, Blogs, Webinars, and Rock’n’Roll will give very little income directly, but if one provides valuable content, one can add links to platforms where the fans can support a content creator with donations.
The classic way it via Paypal. If you like my content, you click the link and make a one-time donation. The other way is via the Patreon platform where you can make a recurring monthly donation to support the creative process. Click on either link if you want to support in any way.

Save up for a birding trip in the future. 

The Patreon page is set up so that you can, if you wish, make a monthly deposit of $100 and save up for a birding trip in the future, and at the same time help Kolibri Expeditions with cash flow. You don’t have to decide now which trip you want to take, only that you are saving up for a trip in 1-3 years. There are of course plenty of trips to choose from the Kolibri Expeditions’s and 7 Wonders Birding’s Websites, that will be up and running and taking into account the regulations of social distancing in each place.

Book a trip now. Postpone if you need to.

This is the absolute best way to help us. You sign up for and pay a deposit for a tentative trip within the next year. If you can’t make the trip or the trip does not run for whatever reason, your deposit is valid for three years, and can either be changed to another trip or the same trip at a different date.
The deposits keep us afloat and the confirming dates give incentives to others to book the same dates.

It is likely that Peru will open its borders by Oct 1. It has been announced that there shall be no quarantine for visitors arriving, but there are obviously regulations at the airports and by the airlines that will have to be fulfilled before arriving. There may also be a quarantine imposed by your own country once returning.

if you are in a risk group it makes a lot of sense to postpone until there is a vaccine, but I know there are also many who want to start traveling when it is regarded as safe.  Having this flexibility of choosing dates and destinations, hopefully, will get you to book a birding trip with us.

Supplying birding services for new birders in Lima. 

Local Birding in the parks pre-COVID19 – Photo: Mariano Mavila

This has been my lifeline for the last couple of weeks. Something, which perhaps can grow. In mid-June, when we got a bit more freedom to do recreation for an hour within the radius of 3km from home, I set up a Birding Facebook group in Spanish for the neighboring Lima districts of Miraflores, San Isidro, Barranco, San Borja, Surco and Surquillo, and started offering free guiding for one hour in nearby parks where people lived. This way, the initial obstacles of getting out of the comfort zone to pursue a new hobby were eliminated. No cost. Not far away. Not time-consuming.

Now a small group has formed of newbie birders, that have joined me for longer weekend outings. It does not give a big income, but perhaps it can grow. The group has been shared with other Facebook groups in these districts, to Expat groups, and to the Aves de Lima Facebook group.

We are planning longer trips for Peruvians outside of Lima for the national holiday week (Fiestas Patrias July 28-29) coming up in two weeks, which would also involve our guides Juan Julca in Chiclayo and Alex Durand in Cusco. Hopefully, we can get groups together for some income, but it is far from certain. Even though the domestic flights are available from July 15, there are still few lodges open and roads are closed by local communities in fear of getting contaminated.

Our conservation project on the Satipo road.

We had hoped that we would be able to commence the Satipo road project with a trip to the area during the Fiestas Patrias week, but Junin Department is still under total lockdown. We would commence in August instead.
Read more about the project here.
You can still donate to this project using this Paypal button.



This project both give us work, as well as helping the community for a sustainable eco-tourism project.

I hope this list of streams of income has motivated you to click on the links and to help in any way you can, and if you are a bird guide or birdwatching tour operator has perhaps given some ideas on how to adapt to the situation.
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Gunnar Engblom is a Swedish birder who lives in Peru since 1998, where he operates birdwatching and nature tours for Kolibri Expeditions. In October 2018 Gunnar lead a trip in Peru recording 1006 species in a Big Month. Gunnar is also a dedicated 3:04 marathon runner, still hoping for a sub 3h marathon in spite of turning 60 in 2020, perhaps in Berlin September, 2021.

In 2016, Gunnar re-launched his rock’n’roll singer career with his band Guran Guran, and in 2019 they released a new video – Feels Like Some Summer – also available on Spotify and other digital outlets.

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