Jun 1, 2009

Practical Advice for Foreign Bird Trips and Recommended Birding Equipment

Study principal language(s) spoken in area of trip. The better you are able to communicate, the more you will enjoy your trip. Plan to spend an hour per day for at least six months (Western European languages) to one year (e.g., Polish) to more than a year (e.g., Mandarin Chinese) to attain minimal competence for birding. You shouldn't be discouraged because of unfavorable classroom experiences. While language classes can be quite helpful when reading advanced works, at the basic, conversational level, you will progress much faster on your own, studying what you need to learn for practical communication instead of what happens to be in the course materials. Moreover, the vocabulary needed to get along on a birding trip is only a fraction of that required in university classes. You don't have to be able to translate Cyrano de Bergerac to hire and communicate with porters in Congo. See the WorldTwitch Language Resources page.

Study tapes of bird vocalizations. It is best to dub study tapes of voices you don't know and need to learn and to listen to a short tape of a few cuts repeatedly until you are intimately familiar with them. Periodic repetition of your study tapes will help solidify what you have learned.

Exercise daily. Running is good for overall conditioning, but for bird trips it should be combined with uphill exercise, at a minimum, stair climbing machines set at high resistance. There's quite a substantial difference between the most strenuous workout on a stair machine and real mountain hiking, and no gym equipment can prepare you for steep downhill descents.
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WORLDTWITCH - Birding Travel - Practical Advice for Foreign Bird Trips and Recommended Birding Equipment