Welcome to my Blog!
I've been meaning to create a blog for my website for quite some time. Life and the pull to do anything but sit in front of a computer screen has derailed my attempts time and again. But, with patience all things come to fruition! I am happy to announce that I will be doing everything in my power to create timely posts and maintain a blog presence on antbirdtours.com and this is the first official entry!
I've been birding in the tropics for many years. Prior to leading trips in Panama, I worked in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil. I've traveled extensively throughout other Central and South American countries as well. I've also led birding trips in Iceland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Despite having traveled to so many amazing countries, my heart and soul are forever tied to Panama. Every aspect of the country excites me...the geography, the people, the climate, the food and most importantly the birds. For a country approximately the size of the state of South Carolina, Panama harbors close to 1,000 avian species. It is impossible to spend any time in this country without noticing the varied and fantastic birdlife.
My decision to lead groups to Panama was largely the result of my self-imposed duty as a conservation biologist. I received my PhD in the concentration of avian toxicology and I am intimately aware of the issues facing our wildlife populations the world over. While a career path such as mine can certainly lead to depression and pessimism, I do believe in the power of one. A single consumer can make a difference by choosing where to spend his/her money, especially in small and local markets. By taking individuals to Panama and showing them the amazing diversity of a tropical rainforest...the same diversity that is lost every time a coffee or banana plantation is created that does not support sustainable ideals, I hope that perhaps those same people will return home with a renewed determination to purchase only goods that are produced in an environmentally responsible way. They can tell a friend or two about their decision to support biodiversity through their purchasing power and perhaps their friend(s) will do the same. The changes in consumption habits by a handful of customers may be noticed by the local coffee roaster and they might make it a point to order and stock shade-grown, bird friendly coffee. Small changes, big impacts. A tall order, I know...but absolutely worth a shot.
It didn't take long to realize that I was on to something. Clients that accompanied me to Panama were clearly moved by the life that sprang forth from every corner of the country and they not only changed their consumption habits at home, but many returned a second or even a third time to Panama! The appreciation for tropical ecosystems grew and over the years, I have witnessed first-hand the cultivation of change...and it is a beautiful thing!
So now I continue on my quest. I bring 4-5 groups to Panama every year and I ALWAYS leave the country feeling encouraged and proud. Not proud of myself, but proud of humanity. If I can be the instrument of change, even a small but significant change, I will live a life that is full and complete. Of course, I have relatively little to do with this. The birds do all the work!