Sunday, February 13, 2011

Panamá Audubon February Meet

The monthly meeting of Panamá Audubon promised to be full of valuable information and good times. Many of the birders Cindy and I have met in the field were in attendance. And several were presenters in the evening program.

We attended earlier Christmas Bird Count organizing meetings. But, this was the first more normal program for us. We drove down with our friends Bill & Claudia Ahrens. It is a long drive from our home to the city, so that is the reason for our sparse attendance record.

The venue is the meeting room at Metropolitan Park headquarters building. A large open room with rows of chairs gave good views of the computer projection for the different segments.

Karl Kaufmann was up first with his effort of establishing eBird Panamá. This is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology database project of bird records. It will store personal lists, as well, which looks to be very valuable. Cloud computing of your information can give a bit of safety from personal disk crashes. Plus, your sightings are added to the public record. With enough time, this database can be used by scientists for on-going research.

Darién Montañez is the creative force behind the rare bird website, Xenornis. He scrolled through the new sightings on the page. And, most excitingly, told of the Cape May Warbler first found by Rosabel Miró.  Prior to the night's meeting, they had seen it again at the Panamá Audubon office.  This is quite a rarity in Panamá and was a life bird for Darién.

Jan Axel is a dedicated birder with an active blog detailing his exploits. He was the inspiration for last year's "600 Club", motivating birders to get out and try to see 600 birds in one year in Panamá. Even with 978 birds on the country's list, still not an easy task. Bill & Claudia worked throughout the year, with the difference that they BOTH had to see the bird. And they made it. They got coveted 600 Club patches and certificates.

Finally, there was a book signing by George Angher of his new "Birds of Panamá" field guide. His powerpoint outlined the differences with the earlier book we all use, while describing the layout of the new book. The impetus for the project was from a Costa Rican publisher with a guide for that country. Many of the illustrations could be used in a Panama guide. The artist for both books is Robert Dean and his work is fantastic. Plus the layout in the new guide is very convenient with art, text and maps side by side. Asked how long the writing took, George said it was three years of 3-day weekends, plus 33 years of experience! We are very pleased to have our copy and to take advantage of his hard work.

The video below will give just a flavor of the event.

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