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
Camino Vigia Chico
Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
Mountain Pine Ridge
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
Cerro de la Muerte and the adjacent highlands
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!
Altos del Maria
El Valle de Anton
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.
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.