Belize Audubon Society (BAS) sent their newly hired Field Biologist, Denham Chuc, to the US to learn state of the art bird study methods and techniques at Sharon Audubon. These newly acquired skills will be used locally by BAS to gain an understanding of Belize bird population dynamics. Denham was guest speaker at Greenwich Audubon recently. He came to share his experiences gained while learning bird banding methods and techniques in Sharon, Connecticut and the future goals of the BAS in this regard.
Scott E. Heth Director of Audubon Sharon says, The idea behind this exchange was to give Denham practical field experience that can be adapted and replicated in Belize to monitor and conserve birds there. Certainly the Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) is a species we share and there are others. As part of Audubon Sharon’s commitment to protecting birds throughout the Atlantic Flyway, Audubon Sharon has partnered with Audubon’s International Alliance Program to provide experience and training for a new employee for Belize Audubon. Denham Chuc, was with us for 8 weeks this summer. He learned bird banding techniques and assisted with our MAPS banding station, helped to conduct bird surveys and learned technical information about survey design. In addition, he learned practical information such as GPS and GIS systems, Christmas Bird Count data entry and International Important Bird area monitoring protocols. Trainers included Audubon Sharon, Audubon Connecticut, Audubon Vermont, National Audubon and BirdLife International personnel.”
While here, Denham lived with Sharon Audubon’s other Interns at the Miles Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition to the technical information and field experience that Denham took back to Belize to apply towards his conservation efforts there, the cultural exchange also was an important part of this initiative. Working and living with other young biologists and conservationists from the US, each party has learned more about the conservation challenges facing the goal of protecting habitat at both the breeding and wintering grounds of migratory birds. Plans are being laid out for Audubon Vermont staff to visit Belize Audubon to work with them on conservation planning and Audubon Sharon staff to help set up bird banding stations there.
Denham is looking forward to applying his newly learned skills back home to conduct ornithological field studies for The Belize Audubon Society. He will have to do some survey work to determine the best place to start systematic studies, but high on the list of potential sites is Gallon Jug Estate as it has scores of Neotropic Migrants. Although trained as a general biologist, Denham became fascinated by all things birds after his intensive studies at Sharon Audubon. A beneficial cultural shock, besides other adventures and studies, he was learning at the frantic US pace.
Many of us had the pleasure of listening to Denham talk about the state of bird conservation in his beloved country Belize. He shared a summary of the bird conservation efforts currently under way by Belize Audubon Society. They are making progress sure and steady, but there is much more that is needed.
He says of the Belize Audubon Society, “It all started with the boobies.” It is now two decades after the hallmark victory that saw Belize established it’s first protected area at Half-Moon Caye Natural Monument to protect the Red-Footed Boobies. The National Parks System Act and the Wildlife Protection Act enacted by the Government, provides an important role for The Belize Audubon Society, which continues to be Belize’s leading environmental advocacy organization.
The Belize Audubon Society has a partnership role for the protected lands in national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, natural monuments and a nature reserve. These protected areas encompass more than 19,200 acres. The nine protected areas are Half-Moon Caye Natural Monument, Blue Hole Natural Monument, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Guanacasle National Park, Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, Actun Tunichil Muknal natural Monument Cocksscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Victoria Peak Natural Area. These represent the richest land and marine environments in Belize, with critical habitat for jaguars, a wetland of international importance, impressive coral reefs, and sacred caves with beautiful limestone formations and remnants of the ancient Maya.
Today, the environmental advocacy focus is wider as the emerging issue of climate change, energy, protected areas, land and water use, tourism and fisheries capture Belize’s struggle to define environmental sustainability in the context of national development.
For more information about the Belize Audubon Society. www.belizeaudubon.orgMardi Welch Dickinson Author & Photographer of this article KymryGroup™ All rights Reserved No part of this article may be used without written permission.
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