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floraphile
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Good morning, All.

A friend & I will be leaving shortly for our first international birding trip, specifically, Costa Rica.  Previous to my birding life, I've not taken my cellphone when traveling internationally, relying soley on email.  This time, however, for obvious reasons, I will be taking my phone.  I wanted to get others' experiences and advice for using ebird internationally, and for Costa Rica in particular.  @Aaron @Connor Cochrane  Do you purchase the daily data plan and use your own phone or buy a burner locally or at the airport?  Is data speed acceptable?  Or would it be best to keep a written list in the field and enter vis computer when we return to our lodgings?   Anything else I should be aware of?

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16 minutes ago, floraphile said:

Or would it be best to keep a written list in the field and enter vis computer when we return to our lodgings?

A pen and a small notebook don't weigh much.  I always carry them when I'm birding, regardless of location, just in case.  Look for a notebook around 3x5 or 4x6, with a stiff cardboard cover to serve as a firm surface to write on.  Or even a few 3x5 index cards.

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When I visited Costa Rica last year I didn’t get cellular on my phone. I still made all my checklists on ebird mobile (since you don’t need service to make them) and then posted them when I got back to the hotel. However, if you’re driving I would recommend activating cellular on one phone. It was very helpful for navigation on the small Costa Rican roads (the largest highways are usually 2 lanes). If you are driving, everyone uses Waze their for navigation. 

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We went to Trinidad a few years ago.  I didn't buy cell coverage, but I took my iPad and entered the eBird lists on that, and uploaded them when I could get an internet connection.  Didn't miss the phone at all, but then I don't often use it as a phone in any case.

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8 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

When I visited Costa Rica last year I didn’t get cellular on my phone. I still made all my checklists on ebird mobile (since you don’t need service to make them) and then posted them when I got back to the hotel. However, if you’re driving I would recommend activating cellular on one phone. It was very helpful for navigation on the small Costa Rican roads (the largest highways are usually 2 lanes). If you are driving, everyone uses Waze their for navigation. 

Lord, no, I'm not driving.  When I visited previously, whenever our bus driver would go down a mountain, he laid on the horn the entire way down.  Apparently this is  considered a polite gesture toward other drivers.  😲 That experience was enough to keep me from behind the wheel.

"made all my checklists on ebird mobile (since you don’t need service to make them)"--I think that is a great way to do it. Thank you, @Connor Cochrane

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1 hour ago, Avery said:

@floraphileill be heading down to ‘bama tomorrow to try for those Whooping Cranes at Wheeler! Excited to bird in a new state!

@Avery--Welcome to Alabama!  My friend went to Wheeler a couple of weeks ago and saw her Lifer Whoopers--I've not gotten mine.   Lake Guntersville is fairly close to Wheeler and also a good place to bird in north Alabama.  If you plan on coming to the coast (about a 5-1/2 hour drive from Decatur), I can point you to some other great places.  I wish we could have good weather for you, but the entire southeast is in the middle of a brutal cold front right now.  Even here on the coast, we are expecting lows in the upper 20s/low 30s for the weekend.

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7 hours ago, floraphile said:

@Avery--Welcome to Alabama!  My friend went to Wheeler a couple of weeks ago and saw her Lifer Whoopers--I've not gotten mine.   Lake Guntersville is fairly close to Wheeler and also a good place to bird in north Alabama.  If you plan on coming to the coast (about a 5-1/2 hour drive from Decatur), I can point you to some other great places.  I wish we could have good weather for you, but the entire southeast is in the middle of a brutal cold front right now.  Even here on the coast, we are expecting lows in the upper 20s/low 30s for the weekend.

Whaddya mean? That’s T-shirt weather for us Northerners! 😉 

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3 hours ago, Avery said:

Got 8 of ‘em!

Congrats!  ❤️ Was it a Lifer for you?   I had planned to go last weekend, but an ice storm came through, so I didn't go, as I am not comfortable with or skilled in driving in those conditions.  How did you like Wheeler?   

Edited by floraphile
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1 minute ago, floraphile said:

Congrats!  ❤️ Was it a Lifer for you?   I had planned to go last weekend, but an ice storm came through, so I didn't go, as I am not comfortable or skilled in driving in those conditions.  How did you like Wheeler?   

@Avery--nevermind--I see from your signature is was a Lifer!!!  Yay!

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9 minutes ago, floraphile said:

Congrats!  ❤️ Was it a Lifer for you?   I had planned to go last weekend, but an ice storm came through, so I didn't go, as I am not comfortable with or skilled in driving in those conditions.  How did you like Wheeler?   

Loved it! Definitely a future destination!

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The drivers in Costa Rica (from what I’ve experienced) are kinda crazy. I threw up several times on the side of the highway because our driver was speeding and weaving around cars 😂
 

I did the same as @Connor Cochrane, just used ebird mobile and uploaded it when I got back to the house I was staying at. The first time I went (before I got ebird mobile), I just kept a digital list going on my notes app and then tallied those up into ebird.  
I never really had the need to get a data plan, but if we turned off airplane mode/turned on data it was only $25 a day, for unlimited data, which wasn’t too bad. That was using Bell, which I think is AT&T, and it’s probably way cheaper for you. 

I’d recommend getting WhatsApp as many restaurants and tour companies use that to book reservations and it can be used using wifi if you don’t have iMessage.

I’m not sure what area of Costa Rica you are going to, and if this applies to all of Costa Rica, but I was in the Guanacaste province. For whatever reason the typical placeholders such as ‘passerine sp.’ and ‘bird sp.’ are flagged as rare for down there. There’s ‘sp.’ options available, but you have to be more specific, usually to the genus. So it’s a bit hard to record when you saw/heard something that you didn’t recognize, or would like to review. Which doesn’t matter too much I guess, but makes it a bit hard if you want to look at a sonogram to figure out what it was and so son. 
I dealt with the ebird reviewer a few times, and she does speak English (I think), but she would confirm some sightings and not others, and I’m not really sure as to why. I’d always tip off the high count for Baltimore orioles due to them roosting in the trees around me and sunset/sunrise. I sent her a giant paragraph explaining how they do that every night and blah blah, but she still hasn’t confirmed some. 
 

I also feel like there’s lots of ebird misuse in Costa Rica. I’ve noticed that many many checklists will list an insane amount of species or species that just don’t make much sense, yet there’s no photos, audio, or comments. So I generally, if I'm looking to see where specific species have been seen, use the “explore rich media” option. Which barely turns up results, but at least I know it’s truthful.  One of my main goals was to add photos/audio/comments for every species that I could, because those are definitely lacking down there.

Definitely a fun place to bird!

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1 hour ago, Aaron said:

The drivers in Costa Rica (from what I’ve experienced) are kinda crazy. I threw up several times on the side of the highway because our driver was speeding and weaving around cars 😂
 

I did the same as @Connor Cochrane, just used ebird mobile and uploaded it when I got back to the house I was staying at. The first time I went (before I got ebird mobile), I just kept a digital list going on my notes app and then tallied those up into ebird.  
I never really had the need to get a data plan, but if we turned off airplane mode/turned on data it was only $25 a day, for unlimited data, which wasn’t too bad. That was using Bell, which I think is AT&T, and it’s probably way cheaper for you. 

I’d recommend getting WhatsApp as many restaurants and tour companies use that to book reservations and it can be used using wifi if you don’t have iMessage.

I’m not sure what area of Costa Rica you are going to, and if this applies to all of Costa Rica, but I was in the Guanacaste province. For whatever reason the typical placeholders such as ‘passerine sp.’ and ‘bird sp.’ are flagged as rare for down there. There’s ‘sp.’ options available, but you have to be more specific, usually to the genus. So it’s a bit hard to record when you saw/heard something that you didn’t recognize, or would like to review. Which doesn’t matter too much I guess, but makes it a bit hard if you want to look at a sonogram to figure out what it was and so son. 
I dealt with the ebird reviewer a few times, and she does speak English (I think), but she would confirm some sightings and not others, and I’m not really sure as to why. I’d always tip off the high count for Baltimore orioles due to them roosting in the trees around me and sunset/sunrise. I sent her a giant paragraph explaining how they do that every night and blah blah, but she still hasn’t confirmed some. 
 

I also feel like there’s lots of ebird misuse in Costa Rica. I’ve noticed that many many checklists will list an insane amount of species or species that just don’t make much sense, yet there’s no photos, audio, or comments. So I generally, if I'm looking to see where specific species have been seen, use the “explore rich media” option. Which barely turns up results, but at least I know it’s truthful.  One of my main goals was to add photos/audio/comments for every species that I could, because those are definitely lacking down there.

Definitely a fun place to bird!

Really, that's interesting. We rented a car when I visited Costa Rica. If anything it seemed like people were much slower drivers then in the US. Cars would go 25 mph on the highways.

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2 hours ago, Aaron said:

The drivers in Costa Rica (from what I’ve experienced) are kinda crazy. I threw up several times on the side of the highway because our driver was speeding and weaving around cars 😂
 

I did the same as @Connor Cochrane, just used ebird mobile and uploaded it when I got back to the house I was staying at. The first time I went (before I got ebird mobile), I just kept a digital list going on my notes app and then tallied those up into ebird.  
I never really had the need to get a data plan, but if we turned off airplane mode/turned on data it was only $25 a day, for unlimited data, which wasn’t too bad. That was using Bell, which I think is AT&T, and it’s probably way cheaper for you. 

I’d recommend getting WhatsApp as many restaurants and tour companies use that to book reservations and it can be used using wifi if you don’t have iMessage.

I’m not sure what area of Costa Rica you are going to, and if this applies to all of Costa Rica, but I was in the Guanacaste province. For whatever reason the typical placeholders such as ‘passerine sp.’ and ‘bird sp.’ are flagged as rare for down there. There’s ‘sp.’ options available, but you have to be more specific, usually to the genus. So it’s a bit hard to record when you saw/heard something that you didn’t recognize, or would like to review. Which doesn’t matter too much I guess, but makes it a bit hard if you want to look at a sonogram to figure out what it was and so son. 
I dealt with the ebird reviewer a few times, and she does speak English (I think), but she would confirm some sightings and not others, and I’m not really sure as to why. I’d always tip off the high count for Baltimore orioles due to them roosting in the trees around me and sunset/sunrise. I sent her a giant paragraph explaining how they do that every night and blah blah, but she still hasn’t confirmed some. 
 

I also feel like there’s lots of ebird misuse in Costa Rica. I’ve noticed that many many checklists will list an insane amount of species or species that just don’t make much sense, yet there’s no photos, audio, or comments. So I generally, if I'm looking to see where specific species have been seen, use the “explore rich media” option. Which barely turns up results, but at least I know it’s truthful.  One of my main goals was to add photos/audio/comments for every species that I could, because those are definitely lacking down there.

Definitely a fun place to bird!

Thank you for all of the detailed information!

 

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2 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

Really, that's interesting. We rented a car when I visited Costa Rica. If anything it seemed like people were much slower drivers then in the US. Cars would go 25 mph on the highways.

Maybe Canadian drivers are less crazy than Costa Rican drivers who are less crazy than American drivers 😂

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14 hours ago, Aaron said:

Maybe Canadian drivers are less crazy than Costa Rican drivers who are less crazy than American drivers 😂

If one's heart can survive taxi rides in Philly, anything is doable--The Voice of Experience.

 

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  • 3 months later...

I hear y'all - I have ridden the overnight bus all the way from 15k' to sea level down out of the Andes. Front seat on the upper story of a double decker - let's just say it sways like a palm in a hurricane and often the only thing you can see is the next switchback several hundred feet below. My one consolation is that they do this for a living and they are good at it! In over a month and hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles I only ever saw 1 or 2 accidents.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, SirVive said:

I hear y'all - I have ridden the overnight bus all the way from 15k' to sea level down out of the Andes. Front seat on the upper story of a double decker - let's just say it sways like a palm in a hurricane and often the only thing you can see is the next switchback several hundred feet below. My one consolation is that they do this for a living and they are good at it! In over a month and hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles I only ever saw 1 or 2 accidents.

Pass.  Darling Bride and I came close to panic attacks in Italy on the bus ride around the Amalfi peninsula in '15.  The only thing keeping me from calling Ralph was that we were seated on the inboard, cliff-facing side.  If we'd been on the sheer-drop-into-water side, I'd still be nauseous.  

Hey, @floraphile, did this trip happen?  How did it go?

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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On 5/25/2022 at 4:02 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

Pass.  Darling Bride and I came close to panic attacks in Italy on the bus ride around the Amalfi peninsula in '15.  The only thing keeping me from calling Ralph was that we were seated on the inboard, cliff-facing side.  If we'd been on the sheer-drop-into-water side, I'd still be nauseous.  

Hey, @floraphile, did this trip happen?  How did it go?

Yes!  A girlfriend and I spent 10 days in Costa Rica in February and we had such a great time, we plan to go back for more next year.   I am looking forward to more international birding trips in other destinations.  

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