Birder's Guide

DEC 2015

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 37 of 43

Gearing Up for a NEOTrOpical Adventure 36 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2015 long-sleeved shirt in 90 degrees of heat and humidity might sound unbearable, but if you dislike chemical insect repel- lents and mosquito bites, this is your best option. Short-sleeved nylon shirts are also great when the bugs are at a mini- mum but it's still blisteringly hot, because cotton t-shirts just do not seem to keep you as cool as nylon. Make sure that your shirts and pants are not too tight-ftting; you don't want your shirt sticking to your hot and sweaty arms as you try to lift your binoculars to see a lifer. Warm clothing • Who needs warm clothing in the tropics? You, if you plan on heading up in elevation: it gets chilly quickly. You will be pleasantly sur- prised how much elevation affects tem- perature in the tropics. At just 5,000 ft (1,500 m), you'll probably be ready to throw on an extra layer, especially in the early mornings. Bring along a feece or other warmer top if you plan on birding in the highlands. A pair of gloves and a warm hat will be welcome the higher you go, and a pair of long underwear might also be a good idea. Bandana • Bandanas are the multi- tool of clothing. They can be used for just about anything (towel, frst aid, sun protection, bug protection, tissues, wash cloth, etc.), and they will defnitely come in handy on your birding trip. As I trudged up Cerro Pirre in Darién Na- tional Park in Panama, I wiped my brow with my bandana every 10 minutes just so I could see through the sweat dripping off my face. Every time I crossed a creek, I soaked my bandana in the creek and draped it across the back of my neck for a little relief. Bandanas are great for emer- gencies, too. Josh fell in a creek and tore his thumb nail off when we were miles from any services. I wrapped his thumb in a bandana to protect it and contain the bleeding. It worked like a charm. Footwear • Everyone has a favorite pair of shoes; just make sure they are comfortable and bring along a water- proof pair. Even if there is no rain, water from damp and dewy grasses can soak through to your feet in no time. In addi- tion to a good pair of walking shoes, you will want to bring along a pair of sandals (preferably ones that can get wet; i.e., no leather) to let your feet breathe at the end of the day and for use in the shower. In my experience, some showers are not particularly clean. Rubber boots • If you are going on a guided trip, you probably could get away without having rubber boots, but if you are going solo, I strongly recommend you bring a pair along or pick some up as soon as you arrive at your destination. Rubber boots can be surprisingly cheap in Latin America, but if you have an odd or large foot size, it is probably better to bring some from home. Even if you are going during the "dry" season, it can rain at any time, and some trails can be- come impassable without rubber boots. Yes, they are hot and uncomfortable, but hauling around wet, muddy sneakers can be even more unbearable—not to mention the unpleasantness of putting on wet, smelly shoes the next day. Rub- Trails in the tropics can get muddy and are often impassable without rubber boots. Photo © Kathi Borgmann

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