Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Cruise aboard Ponant Le Soleal: Amazon birding

#expeditioncruising

On every expedition cruise you're bound to meet 'twitchers', those with an obsessive fascination for birds and a burning ambition to see as many of the world's 10,000-something species in a lifetime. You'll find them huddled away at the end of the day, swapping notes and filling out their 'life lists' of observed species. However, even the most dedicated among them, including our PhD biologists like Dr Christophe Thebaud, admit to barely scratching the surface. It's no surprise then that 'birders' flock together on any cruise venturing into such rich environments.

The Amazon is a no-brainer for birders because within this vast region, you can expect to find a full one third of all known bird species. Dr Chris tells us that in one little 50sqkm patch of southern Peru, you might be able to see as many 200-300 species in a day, and in the course of a week, see almost as many as the entire species count for all of Europe (700). Colombia has some 1900 species alone with many of those endemic to the country.

The same incredible biodiversity can be applied to fish, butterflies, other animals and plants of all types. Preserving what's left of the primary forests of Brazil and the rest of the Amazon Basin, is therefore of utmost urgency if we want to arrest the alarming rate of loss of species already being experienced.

Birders therefore are ardent conservationists and a dead giveaway. They are wedded to their pair of Swarovski binoculars and converse in terms of 'lesser speckled', 'white throated' and 'brown winged' objects. 

Spotting birds with your premium Austrian binos is one thing, photographing them at a distance of 100+m from a bobbing Zodiac with modest kit is quite another, so the examples I offer you here were produced with some dedication, patience and more than a little frustration.