Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

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 16 of 73

A D V E R T I S I N G arrives and everyone gets cracking photos. Meanwhile, the guide has noticed a group of Little Lorikeets high in the tall eucalypts, so she puts the spotting scope on them and explains that the back-lighting is so terrible it is best to probably just get good looks at these tem - peramental little parrots, as we might not see them again on tour. "But be quick guys" she says, "I hear a Crested Shrike-Tit singing nearby and we are going to want to see and photograph that baby" Sound appeal - ing? It certainly does to us. The hard sell There will always be pure birders that are not interested in anything other than birding. And our dedicated birding tours will always continue to cater to this core interest group. But we also see a need for a new prod - uct line to provide for the many folks whose interest has shifted; not shifted much, but enough to make a difference to the way they want to birdwatch, and the way that they travel. Pure birders can celebrate this development, as it means that camera-toting birders are less likely to sign-up for a strictly birding itinerary, preferring our 'Birding with a Camera' products. Other companies resistant to the changing nature of birding will claim that they have been serving the best interests of birders with a photography bent for years. But that is doubtful. Eight years ago Tropical Birding noticed some tension between pure birders and folks that wanted to spend more time photographing while birding. We trained some of our guides in photography, hired some specialist photographer instructors, and started offer - ing photography tours. This also kept the pure birders much happier, as we were able to lure the photogra - phers away from the 'pure birding' tours. In doing so we made all participants more satisfied, by giving those with a blossoming interest a new space. We soon real - ized the need to divide our photography trips into pure photography – for the dedicated bird photographer, where the shot is all that counts, and more opportunis - tic photography trips, with a greater travel experience component. Now we are again at a juncture where many birders want the very best of both worlds. Birders that love photography want to be on a trip where they get to see lots of birds. They want a top notch guide who knows the vocalizations, taxonomy and identifying features. But they also want a guide who knows how to photograph birds, understands lighting, camera gear and can teach basic photo pro - cessing. If you have found yourself at the back of the line in a birding group, feeling guilty about trying to get that shot or not wanting to hold the group up, then maybe you no longer belong on a pure birding tour (al - though Tropical Birding will always continue to service that important market), and would do much better sur - rounded by like minded hybrid birder-photographers. This new genre of trips is going to be branded 'Birding with a Camera' or BwC tours. We will start by offering up to fifteen destinations, and will add more as demand increases for this type of trip. The initial BwC destinations include Southeast Brazil, Northern Peru, Southern Ecuador, Northern Ecuador, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, South Africa, Northern India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Ethiopia, USA Warbler migra - tion, Upper Texas Coast and Alaska. When compared to the over 150 pure birding, other photography and natural history trips we run every year, this may not seem like a massive change for Tropical Birding. But we feel that it will result in a signifi - cant change in satisfaction for the increasing number of people that love birding with a camera. It is clear to us that many in the bird tourism industry are out of synch with their clients' interests. We are used to setting trends and having others follow, so why not join us on a BwC tour if your interests in birding have shifted that way? (409) 515-9110

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