The journey of a bird photographer

First of all, thank you for visiting my webpage, this is my new webpage indeed, a lot of work building it from scratch since the end of 2023. Besides a photographer I consider myself a techie and good programming stuff.  I know I know, a blog in 2024? that's pretty old-school but hey, one of the good stuff of making your own webpage is you don't have to follow the rules. A webpage in 2024 can also be considered passé until you get hacked or totally dependent from Instagram where photos are also now a thing of the past.

Back to the main point, my native language is Spanish so excuse me if my English grammar is not perfect.  I am writing this first post in English mainly for one reason and this is part of my journey as bird photographer: Almost every person I have met walking the forest trails of Panama since I am taking photos of birds talks ENGLISH. And this is in crescendo, more and more people from abroad come to my country to see the wildlife, some are tourists, some are nature aficionados, some are birdwatchers…lately birdwatchers are coming more and more to Panama and in flocks. 

I wish someday my fellow countrymen start to enjoy more and more this activity as there are very few panamanian birdwatchers and sometimes it gets lonely but fortunately lately that trend is changing, bit by bit I am seeing more of my countrymen appreciating the incredible wildlife fauna we have, especially birds, and that make my journey more interesting as I fell somewhat obligated to educate locals of the amazing things we can see just with a walk in a park and that’s how I started on Instagram first with both Spanish and English captions. Nonetheless I admit I also learned to enjoy taking my photos as a solo adventurer, because going out with people to watch birds as fun as it can get it also means less birds.  More people, the easier is to scare the birds, especially the rarities. Going solo have also obliged me to train my ear, as birdwatching ironically is mostly by sound.  For many birds you want to photograph you first hear the bird, then you see the bird. Fortunately, I am a musician so I guess learning to ID by listen the birds have been relatively easier for me than for most people.

I became a birdwatcher around September 2016 when I was bored sitting at Parque Forestal park near my office job in the Hato Pintado neighborhood in Panama City. I always arrived very early in the morning waiting for the entry hour to work (Before 7am, to get that precious parking space at the park near my 8-to-5 job) and after a few days I started to see a red colorful bird in that little but marvelous park….A SUMMER TANAGER, a migrant bird I knew already since the days with my father on trails as he is an avid birdwatcher, but not me, at that time on 2016 I was an insect watcher (and macro photographer)…My father taught me to ID those birds …. Well, on the following day that I saw the summer tanager at that park, I saw a Saffron Finch, and the next day I saw a tiny black and red bird….the tiny black and red bird intrigued me so much I got the Bird of Panama book by Robert Ridgley and searched for that bird….I was not sure which bird it was…the next day sitting at the park, with the book in hand I searched for the tiny black and red bird again and a guy with British accent walking in the park saw me with the book, he was a birdwatcher and immediately recognized the book and told me ….”You speak English? I think I saw a redstart,  are you birdwatching?”… “Yes” I told him…. “I am trying but I am a newbie” and next I told him…. “I am searching in the book for a tiny black and red or intense orange bird I am seeing here”…. The british guy told me, “That’s the redstart!”.  I searched on the book and found the bird, it was an AMERICAN REDSTART!.  It was early september and I discovered that day that I was at the start of the Fall migration in North America and FLOCKS of warblers come to Panama. Next day I saw the BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, and a few days later I saw a a local GRAY-LINED HAWK for the first time in my life at that park.  I got hooked since.

Well, quickly I discovered my 105mm macro lens was hmm not enough for bird photography and started to slowly save money for new equipment and a few years later I got my Nikon D7200 and a 200-500 zoom lens and my bird photography addiction exploded, traveled inside my country a lot and took many many pictures until today.

A Summer Tanager. Photo taken by me near Chame Beach, Panama in Oct-2020 during the COVID madness.
american redstart photo
This is the American Redstart.  Later I discovered that when migrating they land at my house in Panama City every year around August 25th! that's where I took this photo the same crazy year, 2020.




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