Birder's Guide

JAN 2019

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 32 of 67

If You Go ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– WHAT TO EXPECT In summer, the Antarctic Peninsula can be warmer than wintry North America, rarely dropping below 25°F with hot days spiking above 40°F. Usually, temperatures are right around freezing. Expedition ships carry between 50 and 400 passengers. Some sites al- low only 100 people on shore, which means larger groups must split land- ings (half in Zodiacs, half on land, then switch). You can expect about two excursions per day, requiring ba- sic physical agility and balance. The ships are comfortable, with amenities like saunas and fine dining on larger vessels. Parkas and boots may be pro- vided. Interpretive staff might include naturalists (including an ornitholo- gist), historians, photographers, and other lecturers. An expedition leader works with the captain throughout the voyage to plot a course and plan landings. Antarctica is not cheap, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Short trips might be booked for $6,000 on sale, or berths could start at $20,000 for long voyages. Peak season is Janu- ary/February (when penguins have small chicks), but early summer (November/December) is beautifully snowy and late trips (March) chalk up more whales and seals. Most birds can be seen on every trip. Mainstream operators include: Rock - jumper Worldwide Birding Adventures, Quark Expeditions, One Ocean Expe- ditions, Oceanwide Expeditions, G Adventures, Antarctica21, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions (National Geo- graphic), Abercrombie and Kent, and Seabourn Cruise Line. Specialized bird - ing tours typically reserve enough spac- es with one of these operators to bring their own hosts on board, guaranteeing likeminded company and additional expertise. And the ABA is chartering its own trip to Antarctica (see sidebar on previous page). GO FARTHER Most itineraries last 8–12 days roundtrip from Ushuaia to the Antarc- tic Peninsula. Some trips extend a day or two across the Antarctic Circle, a neat detour with extra scenery. If pos- sible, consider adding the Falkland Is- lands and South Georgia Island—the ultimate voyage for wildlife enthusi- asts, usually 18–22 days. South Geor- gia is particularly mind-blowing (and included in the ABA excursion), often voted more spectacular than Antarctica! South American landmarks Torres del Paine National Park and Iguazu Falls are popular add-ons. Once you get ice in your veins, you can also look at the more remote Ross Sea—or go north to places like Svalbard, Greenland, and the Northwest Passage. 31 January 2019 | Birder's Guide to Travel

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