Friday, November 6, 2009

An Amazing Year of EcoTravel
One year ago today, I started an amazing year of travel through the Americas. Most of those experiences are posted here in some detail and I am sure it will be a while before I can match the great experiences and the wonderful people I met. I have been lucky to start some new friendships and to build on some I had already. I truly am very lucky.

Last November, we were off to Churchill, Manitoba to see the annual migration of the largest land carnivore, the Polar Bear; an animal that is so recognizable, uniquely powerful and majestic.

In January, a small group of adventurers once again headed to the swamps of central Arkansas to enjoy the vast cypress/tupelo habitat and the land of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. We were pleased to meet Gene Sparling, whose sighting in 2004 started the recent hunt for the "Grail Bird."

March gave me the opportunity to once again work on the bird study program based in Cuba, home to the world's smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird. This program blends culture, nature, and political histories as no other tour can. I was also able to stop on my way and visit Tulum and Chichen Itza on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula; truly an emotional experience of human suffering.

In April, I made my first tour of the Galapagos Islands and reveled in the so familiar Flightless Cormorant, Giant Tortoise, and Darwin's Finches. It was the anniversary of Darwin's 200th birthday; a special place (put this on your "Bucket List").

June presented a unique experience with travel by private aircraft across the northern tier of the United States visiting many states and great sites like Mount Rushmore, potholes and prairies, Kirtland's Warbler, and more. I tell you...a private the way to go!

Early October brought me back to Block Island, Rhode Island for perhaps my 16th or 17th year of enjoying the fall migration on this lovely offshore migrant trap. The images of the giant yellow heads of Seaside Goldenrod are forever in my mind.

And to top it off...I found Paradise in the the Pantanal of Brazil, without a doubt my favorite place to enjoy the works of Mother Nature with outstanding mammals, birds, and scenery. The sunsets overlooking the Pantanal from the clifftops of Chapata were equalled only by the fine company and hour-long visit with a lounging Jaguar.

What a year, and thank you to all the travelers for making it possible. We will all have such great memories for years to come.

Someday I will have to get a real job!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Still Living Brazil

Since returning from the Pantanal, I have been pouring through the 1,700 or so images I brought home, rechecking the bird and animal tally sheet, posting to Connecticut Audubon's website and my own blog, and having a hard time shaking daydreaming about Brazil. The scenery is outstanding, sunsets some of the best, and the food inspiring, making the whole adventure unavoidably captivating. When on our way home, three of us were talking about our favorite four course meal and where we would like to eat it. We all agreed that the Pantanal was the place. It was a wonderful escape and experience and one that I hope to recreate not only for myself in the future, but for our travelers too.