I've been working for weeks now, sorting, editing, cropping and weeding photos taken on my South African safari in February, 2012. It's been at the top of my to-do list since then. I knew, looking at my spring and summer travel schedule, that it would be gruesome, but I didn't think it would take me until August to have the time and mental space to sit down and do the work of processing a ten-day trip. As a visual learner, I'd be absolutely lost without my Canon 7D camera and the souvenir photos I take. When I finally sit down to write the article, I have my field notebook, a stack of field guides, my itinerary, and the photos right in front of me. Then comes the painstaking work of reconstructing the trip. It's amazing how much I forget when I'm staying in a different place every night and have no down time whatsoever to digest it all.
See, I get these press familiarization trips (also known as fam trips) over the transom every few years. My last one to South Africa was in 1994, so maybe I should revise that to "every few decades." At first blush, they look like all-expense paid vacations to places I could never afford to go. And they are, sort of, and they're great, they're terrific. But they're almost always on very short notice (Can you go to Africa in three weeks?) ; you usually have to convey yourself to either New York or Miami to depart, which involves air fares, parking and hotels, and usually inoculations and necessary but costly gear upgrades, all on your own nickel. My "free" trip to Guyana cost me a bit over $1,000 in such expenses. I had a fabulous trip, and I thanked the Guyana Tourism Authority by writing an article for Bird Watcher's Digest and posting 64 substantial blogposts about everything from Marmite and crab-eating raccoons to colonial spiders in quilt-sized webs to catching and sexing giant caimans at night.
Mike Weedon standing next to a communal spider web on Turtle Mountain, Guyana, with thousands of seething spiders inside. Eee! Eee! Eee!
So with that as a preamble, I'll kick off a series on my February 2012 trip to South Africa. You're going to like it.
Speaking of "like," thank you, dear readers, for your magnificent response to my last post, "Me, You and BWD." Subscribing to Bird Watcher's Digest, either digitally or in print, is a resounding vote of support for a family-owned and published magazine that, after 34 years, continues to give you the best that it's got. A Zick magnum opus on South African birding is coming up in its pages, with the endless photo salon (I picked 715 that were worth looking at) and my usual loose and jittery commentary appearing here on the blog.