When I left Team Sapsucker late last night it was pouring rain, a perfect punctuation to the day, telling them to stay under cover on Chan Chich’s deck since no bird would be out in the deluge. They were reviewing their lists, waiting to see if the rain would pass, allowing one final outing of the 24-hour period. I did not ask the final number, but I could tell they were happy with the day.
As I type this at 5am the rain has long since stopped, the early birds are out in full sonic force, competing with the howler monkeys it seems, and results on eBird’s website look impressive. My eye is drawn to the Central America numbers. Partly because I moved to the region two decades ago and have worked in each country. Partly also because the region has embraced its ornithological importance, and yesterday provided one more metric for that embrace. But mainly, because I am here in Belize and the Lab team we had here was exactly as expected, not only as birders but as people.
The Chan Chich guide team had an amazing day with the Team Sapsucker on Friday, and over lunch that day they all celebrated several firsts, the details of which escape me now, but they involved two new species being added to Chan Chich’s list on eBird (a big deal) and our guide Ruben adding a life list bird that day to his nearly two decades of birding accomplishments at the Lodge.
The Lab team explained the rules of the game for the following day. No assistance of any kind would be possible after midnight. So, Team CCL was formed on the spot. The guides had not known ahead of time whether or not they would be supporting the visiting team on Global Big Day. Now, they had a green light from me to form one more bit of friendly competition, and so their Global Big Day started with junior guide Hector (far end of the table in the picture above, in the olive shirt with yellow design) making coffee for everyone just prior to midnight. And they were off.
Team CCL had a clear goal for the day, just as Team Sapsucker did. It was an audacious goal, considering the two new species added to Chan Chich’s list on Friday, but they dedicated their Global Big Day to identifying more species within Chan Chich’s 33,000 acres than their counterparts on the Lab team would. The Lab team’s strategy was not specific to Chan Chich, but to Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, so they spent part of the day in the wetlands north of Chan Chich, where their species count accelerated with birds not frequently seen at Chan Chich.
As I sat with the Lab team last night, rain pouring off the roof of the deck, Team CCL came in and started their own list review. I am looking forward to getting the final results from both teams later today. But in one sense the results are already in, summed up midday Friday by the note I made to myself on that photo I requested of everyone at the table: Birders Break Bread.