Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Duo-post: The good field guide and Darién trip favorites

In wrapping up my Darién trip blog entries, I'm left with one last post. My trip favorites ... and the good field guide question.

First, the good field guide question.

I should leave the good field guide question alone, but I was thinking about this during the trip and even after returning I continued to think about it.  The reason I think the question could be omitted is because if you asked 100 birders or other field trip attendees, "What are the characteristics of a good field guide?" I think you might receive 100 different answers.

Above and below:  Domi Alveo

Of course, the obvious is obvious.  Does the field guide know his or her subject matter - birds, butterflies, wildflowers, travel locations, the history of the art (as in the docent) for your art museum tour?  But just knowing the subject matter alone is not adequate.  Can the guide share that with the participants while also conveying his or her knowledge and enthusiasm to help the participants achieve their goals?  If the answer is yes I think the question is half answered.  These things are important.  But, to me the most important qualities of a good field guide are leadership skills and people management skills.  I doubt that many field guides attend leadership seminars.  I think the best guides have natural, built-in leadership and people management skills.  Domi had all of the above in spades, plus he was 100% of the time a pleasant person to spend a week with.

This question probably matters to me because of my work environment. Overall there is a dearth of leadership skills and people management skills.  I've also observed that when good leadership is absent, bullying and slacking thrive.  I'm not in a leadership position and I certainly do not have these skills.  I wish I did have such skills. Watching someone with leadership talent - whatever the work may be - is a thing of beauty.  I've been fortunate to be on many field trips with good guides, and for me the Darién trip may have been the icing on the cake.

Favorite trip memory

Possibly clichéd, but my favorite trip memory has to be the female Harpy Eagle with her chick on the nest.  This was very possibly the first and last time I'll ever see Harpy eagles - can't forget the male bird two days later.  I hope I described the day well - with all of its moving parts. The whole experience was, without a doubt, the most adventurous day of birding I have experienced to this point in my lifetime. 

Favorite bird photo

Golden-crowned Spadebill
Not my best photo, not even a good photo, but my favorite photo.  I was so pleased to get it.  Below:  my two second place choices.

Golden-collared Manakin doing that funny thing with his throat.

Also not a great photo, but one of my favorites - Nunbird.

Favorite video

I love bird vocalization so thank goodness that, when I could not get a photo, I thought of recording the Bare-crowned Antbird while he was singing.

Below:  I'll end my Darién reporting with three photos of the Embera women's weavings and allow these to speak for themselves.

Shallow plate.

Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) mask.

Striped Owl (Pseudoscops clamator) mask.

 Twenty-two blog entries later, so ends the Darién edition of my 2017 Panama birding trip.

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