Sticking To Mission & Unintended Consequences

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In recent months, as we prepared to host Team Sapsucker Belize at Chan Chich Lodge, our goals were focused on the citizen science mission. Using a couple simple metrics, the event was a clear success, comparing the number of species counted in Belize this year versus last year, and especially looking at the number of checklists submitted.

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If you look at this as the third iteration of an event that we hope to grow in future years, the progress from beginning to present is promising. As I type this there are still more than 40 hours of data entry remaining for this year’s event, so the increase in this year’s participation and species identification will likely grow larger by this time Wednesday.

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An unintended consequence of this prepping was that our guides engaged in teamwork in a way perceptibly different from before this effort. Its most literal evidence was their unexpected formation of a team to compete–completely consistent with the spirit of the event they chose to compete with Team Sapsucker Belize in identifying species on property at Chan Chich.

Since the Cornell team’s reach extended beyond Chan Chich for the 24-hour period, our guides decided to maximize species count on property, knowing their total species count would come nowhere close to their rival’s. But it was their home field, so to speak, and they would claim victory on at least one metric. I will wait two more days to report on those results, but for now I can say they counted 180 species in an 18-hour period (if not for torrential rain they would have stayed out the full 24 hours, I am sure); impressive to say the least and no doubt it is the most species counted at Chan Chich in one day.

Four Chan Chich guides (one senior guide was on leave, but one guide-in-training was on the team with the three other guides) are visible in the results in the eBird feed as I type this: in the image below you can see Luis Romero, Levy Blanco, Isael Mai, and Hector Salazar. But much more interesting to me was their sense of community, their collaboration, and their clear motivation related to the conservation mission of Chan Chich Lodge that came bursting out.

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They are already making plans as a team, among other things, to volunteer their time together to support this conservation program mentioned in an earlier post. Isael and Hector already knew each other from volunteering in that program in previous years, but now all four are talking about volunteering together. Visiting other ecosystems in Belize to bird as a team, also, is their new goal for the coming months. I assured them they would have my support for that. I could not have predicted this particular dynamic emerging from Global Big Day, but I count it as another success of the event.

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