An Update from Lifer Tours: Virtual Tours, Birding Live on Location with Swarovski Optik and More!
Usually, at this time of year, guides at Lifer Tours would be busy with a tour or two. This year of course is very different but it hasn't kept the guides from heading into the field to look for and study birds in Costa Rica. They have also been busy with other bird-related endeavors. We asked guides Anthony Arce and Juan Diego Vargas what they have been up to, this is what they had to say:
How have you been getting ready for guiding?
That's an interesting question, in my case, I have been using this down time to update my tour guide license and I have also taken a couple or online courses related to culture and tourism. Due to driving restrictions, birding has been limited but thanks to hotspots near my home in Fortuna, I have still been able to get various species for my year list. On a trip to Guanacaste, I also finally connected with a great lifer at the coast, Wandering Tattler!
Anthony counting birds at Arenal Observatory Lodge.
Basically birding a lot. I have been exploring new places that we can add to future tours and have been leading Live Virtual Birding Tours. The advantage of living and birding here year-round is the chance to be up to date with places off of the beaten path. Believe it or not, despite Costa Rica having been a popular birding destination for some time, there are still many new locations appearing on the map every year! Some places get better, some places get worse. In order to always deliver a unique and authentic experience, you have to visit those places often and get a correct impression to then be able to recommend them to visiting birders. And of course also I have been chasing rare and interesting birds when I get the chance.
Juan Diego showing clients a crake or two from pre-pandemic guiding.
What happens on Virtual Tours?
It's a great experience, a new model of birding where technology is the eyes for your clients! The challenge is getting as many birds as possible in the screen. Birds move back and forth and you don't always get the bird you are looking for but there are also great moments with perched raptors and parrots.
A Gray Hawk that posed on a perch.
Juan Diego: Well, a lot is happening on Virtual Tours or “Live Birding Virtual Tours” as we like to call them. Basically ,you get the adrenaline of real life birding in the tropics but avoid all of the risks of traveling in these difficult times. We have multiple places with good feeders and stable wifi from where we broadcast live showing the birds that visit the location and also explaining every detail of their natural history and all their field marks. It's a thrilling new way to understand and explore nature from the safety of your own home.