Sunday, January 26, 2014

Let the games...begin!

Most of my posts this month were pre-written as I was busy preparing for a long adventure. Long story short, I have been wanting to go to the tropics for a long time (since before I got back from Costa Rica in 2006), and since I had no plans for this winter I figured it would be the time to do it. So, I started scheming, one thing led to another, and here I am, on my way to the tropics. Unfortunately since it was pretty short notice I failed to get more people to join me, and lost out on some opportunities while waiting to hear back, hoping someone would join! It is looking like this will all work out though - even if it is a bit more expensive than I originally bargained for.

Anyway, here's the basic route:

(image from Google Maps)

You'll notice there is a straight line between Guatemala City and San Jose - my original plan was to go a bit earlier and take the bus through the three other countries, making a stop in Nicaragua to pick up some dry-forest species and an extra endemic, but I ended up being short on time and so opted to skip them. Some day I will get to Honduras and Nicaragua (and maybe El Salvador) but for now the other 5 countries will have to suffice! My original plan was to copy (with a few changes) the route that Ethan Kistler et al. did last winter through the Yucatan, Belize and northern Guatemala. It turned out that Josh was planning a trip to Panama starting a little over a week after I was planning on ending my trip and had an extra space, so I decided I would join him and fill in the gap with some Costa Rica birding.

I am mainly hoping to see a good chunk of the regional endemics in the various places I will end up, but obviously a lot of the more common birds will also be lifers since this is only my second visit to the region! I still don't feel completely prepared (especially for the songs), but I guess the only real test is to go there and find out right? Anyway, I probably won't be posting on the blog for quite some time as internet access will be spotty (and I am leaving my computer here) but if I get a chance I will post an update or two. In the meantime, have a look at some of the locations where I will be birding! All times listed include travel days

Part 1 - 15.5 days in the north with Janice Chard
Rio Lagartos
Isla Cozumel
Camino Vigia Chico
Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
Mountain Pine Ridge
Los Tarrales
covering the dry scrub of the northern Yucatan, the humid broadleaf forests of Belize and Tikal, the highland pines in Belize and the cloud forests in Guatemala

Part 2 - 9.5 days in Costa Rica on my own
Virgen del Socorro
Braulio Carillo
Cerro de la Muerte and the adjacent highlands
Osa Peninsula
covering the Caribbean foothills and lowlands, the central highlands and paramo and the South Pacific lowlands

Part 3 - 21 days in Panama with Josh V, Steve Pike and maybe some other people for various parts!
Chiriqui highlands
Cerro Santiago
Altos del Maria
El Valle de Anton
El Cope
Darien (El Real, Rancho Frio, Cerro Pirre)
covering pretty much the whole country with a few notable exceptions due to time constraints!

Here is a shot of what I am taking - not in this pic are my cell phone, passport and toiletry stuff+sunscreen and bugspray.

(Solo lightweight tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, binoculars, DSLR+lens+charger+memory cards, field guide (birds of Central America by van Perlo), clothes (merino T-shirt, quick-dry fishing T-shirt, 2 pairs of quick-dry pants, merino underarmour, lightweight longsleeve, lightweight fleece, rain jacket, socks+underwear), umbrella, pack towel, Lifestraw water filter, notebooks, iPod+mini speaker, headlamp+extra batteries, car GPS with preloaded maps from Open Street Maps, glasses and sunglasses and some protein bars)

This all more or less fits into a travel backpack (45L) and a dry bag (13L) - total weight of about 30lbs. The heaviest single item on this list is my camera gear...I debated leaving it behind but decided that wasn't an option!

Assuming everything goes well I will be back in mid-March to post a summary - wish me luck!

PS - not sure if anyone noticed but I put up a little gadget on the right-hand side of the page to track my year list. My goal of 779 species in the AOU this year would match my current AOU life list. I think it is going to be a tough goal to achieve but it all depends on how well this trip goes! Depending what else happens this year I may update it with a new challenge but we'll just have to wait and see on that one.


Josh Beck said...

Heya Dave, this is Josh whom you met along Vigia Chico Rd. Curious how you're headed to Cirro Pirre / who with? We'll probably head in there as well when we get to Panama, as well as some spots in Nusangandi and probably Chacanti.

James Dunton said...

Awesome job on the backpack! Packing light is a skill that I didn't always have. Many times I avoid taking some pictures simply because I'm too tired to unpack my things.