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 38 of 43

37 November 2015 | Birder's Guide to Gear ber boots also provide an extra layer of protection against snakes. Bug protection • Mosquito-borne ill- nesses, such as malaria and Dengue fe- ver, can ruin your trip, so it is wise to use bug protection whether it be long clothing or bug spray. Before you go, check for information at the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to learn about potential risks in the locations you plan to visit, and always talk to your doctor. In some areas, you may want to take anti-malaria pills or get vaccinated against yellow fe- ver, hepatitis A, and/or typhoid, so it is important check with your doctor. Thankfully, there are now numerous non-DEET options to repel mosqui- toes and other little annoyances. We have had good luck with Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent. We also tried Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent (available at REI), which we found worked well despite having a funny smell. Straight Citronella-based products do not seem to do much for us. You can also buy nylon clothing impregnated with permethrin, which helps repel mosquitoes, or you can buy permethrin and apply it to nylon clothes yourself. In our experience, permethrin-treated clothes really do help reduce the number of bites, but permethrin will disappear from clothes after approximately 70 washes, and in really buggy areas, you will probably also need to apply extra bug spray. Re- member, it is usually not wise to spray DEET directly onto your nylon clothes, as DEET could ruin some of your cloth- ing, as well as damage binocular armor. No matter what, you will probably end up with a few bites, so if you are sensitive, I recommend bringing along some antihistamine gel like Benadryl to soothe the itches. Sun protection • Sunscreen is also a no-brainer, but just remember to bring your favorite sunscreen with you on the trip because sunscreen is expensive outside of the U.S. And do not forget a wide-brimmed hat—a necessity for sun protection. Sulfur powder • We learned about this one the hard way. Perhaps some of the most annoying bugs in the tropics are chiggers—those nearly invisible things that crawl up your pants and head for moist crevices, giving you an itch that lasts for a week or more. The best way to prevent chiggers is to not walk in tall grassy/weedy areas, but for bird- ers, this seems nearly impossible. If you are going to be walking through heavy grass, weeds, or agricultural areas, dust your shoes, ankles, and pants with sul- fur powder to dissuade chiggers from latching on. If you do not have sulfur powder on hand, bringing back the '80s by tucking your pants into tall socks or wearing rubber boots can help. And per- haps more importantly, shower as soon Josh is enjoying birding in the rain and staying dry under his umbrella. Photo © Kathi Borgmann

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