Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

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 47 of 95

46 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2017 Travel Tips tour companies include a donation as a portion of their trip costs. If your favorite tour company doesn't, you might chal- lenge them to adopt the practice. ■ Buy local, hire local. Keep as much mon- ey on the ground as possible. Does your lodge hire local labor or import English speakers from other countries? Does your tour operator hire local guides in the des- tination or go it alone? ■ Don't tolerate aggressive guides or part- cipants. The animals should always come first. Speak up if someone is harassing a bird with playback or with a camera, or by getting too close, especially if that bird is nesting. Frequent visits to a nesting site can attract the attention of natural and human predators in search of eggs or nestlings. ■ Don't encourage your guides to visit habitats that have a low carrying capac- ity for humans just so you can bag a bird. Sometimes you have to let a bird go. ■ Tip well, and leave something behind for your guide, driver, and other service providers. ■ Have your trip count for something. En- ter your global sightings into eBird. Con- sult your guide first if there are at-risk spe- cies whose locations should be protected. Pro Tips ■ Pack a collapsible empty bag for dirty laundry, gifts, and other stuff. If you're traveling to countries such as Chile, Spain, or South Africa, you might want to bring a hard case for wine! ■ If traveling with a spouse or friend, con- sidering packing half your belongings in the other person's case and vice versa, in case one of you loses a bag. ■ Take clothes you can launder yourself. Quick-dry fabric works best. Consider packing a small clothesline and clothes pins. ■ Put your car keys in a safe place that you won't forget. Being stuck in the parking lot of your home airport at midnight after a two- week trip is no way to end your adventure. ■ Call your credit card company before big trips. Numerous purchases from different or distant lo- cations can trip your credit card company's fraud-pro- tection alerts. ■ Be sure you understand currency standards of your destination country. Re- member that some coun - tries are cash-only societies (such as Cuba), and others have very limited access to ATMs. In some remote ar- eas, credit cards are of lim- ited to no use. ■ Bring a roll of toilet paper, baggies, and hand sanitizer with you in the field. Put used paper in a sealed plastic bag. ■ Put your smartphone in a waterproof hard case, like an OtterBox, and close the flaps! I found this out the hard way on a Leica trip to Honduras. I tucked my phone into my cargo pants. After surviving a treacherous, slippery, seven-mile hike through the untamed jungle, we had to ford a raging stream at the base of a water- fall. I slipped on a rock and fell waist-deep into the drink. There went my iPhone… ■ Bring comfortable night clothes and shoes. After a long, sweaty day in the field, I change into a long skirt and sandals for dinner. This transforms me from roadkill into a proper dinner guest. Some of my gentlemen friends like to wear kilts. Parting Thoughts Our final tip comes from "GM" in Ontar- io, Canada: Get together with the group over beer each evening to compile lists of birds seen and locations visited. It builds friendships and solidifies the memories. Indeed, being in a new, strange land doing what you love to do (birding!) with other people who love birds as much as you is incredibly satisfying. The nightly checklist is part of that ritual. Safe travels wherever and whenever you go! For more resources on birding travel, visit NTN features a destination directory ("Destina- tions" on the menu), which has an infor- mation portal to birding hotspots around the world. In a subsequent issue of Birder's Guide, we'll go into details about not just what to pack but what to pack it in. That's right: We're tackling the best luggage for birders next time. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– We'd love to hear your thoughts on travel. What did you think about the advice given above? Care to share some of your own? Join the conversation online at n Most birders travel to see new and exciting things, but it's also possible to run into the old and familiar. Photo © Laura Kammermeier n Do some research to find out which is the best field guide to take with you. Photo © Margaret Keller n The strangers you meet on birding tours can end up being some of your best friends. Photo © Laura Kammermeier Continued from page 44

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