Students! Conservationists! Ornithologists! Teachers! Community Workers! Environmental NGOs! Scientists! And members of the Jamaican public! Are you ready?
A few weeks ago, I told you about the upcoming 20th International Meeting of the non-profit organization BirdsCaribbean at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica (July 25 – 29, 2015). The theme is: “Birds: Connecting Communities and Conservation.” There is now so much more to tell you! It is shaping up to be a very exciting event, with great keynote speakers, adventurous field trips, absorbing sessions on a range of topics, Jamaica Day, book launches, and more… You can find the details on all the activities listed below on the BirdsCaribbean meeting website: sites.google.com/site/birdscaribbeanmeeting2015/home which is being continuously updated; and keep up to date with all the news on Birds Caribbean’s Facebook page and on Twitter @BirdsCaribbean.
So, where shall we start? Up front, I should remind you that the deadline for the Call for Papers and early bird (smile) discounted registration is Thursday, May 21 – just a few days away! So, please get yourself organized to come! There is a list of proposed sessions (and those already confirmed) on the meeting website and those interested must submit their abstracts online no later than midnight on this date. Students who wish to apply for the Founders Award for Best Student Paper should indicate this in their application. Regarding registration, rates include the full five days of sessions and workshops, lunch and coffee breaks. Field trips and the final banquet and dance will cost extra (very reasonable rates), and there will be a special rate at the conference hotel, so book your room before June 20!
But the meeting won’t be all about sitting in an air-conditioned hotel. There will be regular early morning bird-watching trips to nearby locations, perhaps with a little refreshing yoga thrown in! A great way for bird enthusiasts to start the day.
Then there will be some truly amazing field trips: pre-conference offerings will be two days/two nights to Northern Jamaica (including Rocklands, St. Ann and Cockpit Country); or the “Jamaican Endemics Express” starting in Montego Bay and zooming across to Portland and the Blue Mountains. There will be a one-day mid-conference field trip, which could be to find the endemic birds of the Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park; or the birds of the Port Royal wetlands and cays – a Ramsar site; or to the Portland Bight Protected Area, including Portland Ridge, Salt River and the beautiful area around Goat Islands, the proposed site of a controversial Chinese port. A cultural tour of Kingston is also planned.
After the conference, there will be one- and two-day explorations of the Blue Mountains, St. Ann and western Jamaica. Interested? More details are on the website and the registration form will be up there by tomorrow (Monday 18th). Do register early!
Now, what else? Much more… Sessions will include an Event Photography Workshop, facilitated by Mark Yokoyama, Co-founder of Les Fruits de Mer in St. Martin; a Nature Photography Workshop; a symposium on Invasive Alien Species; and a bird study skin preparation workshop (taxidermy) facilitated by Brad Walker and Jeff Gerbracht from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and a number of scientific sessions, workshops and meetings on topics such as seabirds, the Caribbean Birding Trail, the White-Crowned Pigeon and other game birds, etc.
Want to know more about Jamaica and its remarkable birds? There will be a special Jamaica Day on the first day of the conference, which will include presentations and displays on Jamaican birds and their habitats, photography and more. This will be open to the public – more details to follow!
Who loves books? We all do! We will be having at least three book launches during the conference, including: “Endemic Birds of Cuba” by Nils Navarro; and “Birds of Vieques Island, Puerto Rico” by Daphne Gemmill. Copies of the books will be available for sale.
Keynote speakers: Three great speakers are confirmed and more are coming on board! You can find their bios on the website, but the three already confirmed are Çağan H. Şekercioğlu, Ph.D. ,conservation ecologist, ornithologist, tropical biologist, and nature photographer (www.naturalphotos.com); Matt Johnson, Ph.D., wildlife biologist at Humboldt State University in California, USA; and Eladio Fernandez, conservation photographer, a naturalist and an editorial producer of photography and illustrated children’s books (www.eladiofernandez.com).
So, whether you are an amateur bird lover, an academic or an ornithologist, I hope this has whetted your appetite! Don’t hesitate to explore the website. More information will be posted there, and on this blog too. We look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful island, Jamaica!