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Bird Blog

He’s already spotted the Carib Grackle and the Plumbeous Warbler, and has high hopes for the elusive Spoon-Billed Sandpiper en route to Hong Kong. Dr. Robin Doughty’s cabin is base camp for shipboard bird-watching, self-supplied with a powerful pair of binoculars and field guides to the world. Doughty, a Professor Emeritus from the University of Texas-Austin, joins the spring voyage as both a professor of geography and the ship’s most avid bird-watcher.

“What I’d like to do is introduce people to birds, both on land and at sea,” Doughty said, “I’d personally like to increase my ‘life list’ considerably by several hundred by the end of the voyage. “ He’s lucky to add 1 or 2 new birds per year in North America, but he’s already added 25 species to his life list since setting sail from Fort Lauderdale 3 weeks ago. He’s also keeping a running tally for the voyage, with a total of 220 unique bird sightings so far (not counting flying fish which, Doughty mentions, he’s also spotted).

The students in Doughty’s class, Conserving Endangered Wildlife, will do a little bird-watching of their own. Semester at Sea students get the unmatchable opportunity to take global content from the classroom and experience it around the world, and Doughty plans to take full advantage. Conservation students went on a bird-watching hike into the Amazon rainforest and will next travel to a sandy lagoon west of Cape Town that marks the end of a continent-crossing migration pattern.

Speaking of which, follow the MV Explorer‘s own migration pattern around the world at the SAS website. The ship is currently heading south for the winter and ‚Äúin March and April, we‚Äôre going to be catching the migrants from places like Indonesia and Australia that are going north,‚Äù Doughty explained. Still not spellbound by birds? Doughty has one final pitch‚Äîmigrating flocks will provide the only change of scenery out in the open ocean.

Get your binoculars ready. The MV Explorer is currently making its way through Brazil, home to an incredible 20% of the world’s 10,000 known bird species. There’s no better time to start your life list.

Photo Credit: Brian Scannell
A masked booby (not a seagull) rides the tides off the coast of Puerto Rico

Click here to read Robin Doughty’s biography.

Click here to meet the rest of the faculty and staff.


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