2012 has been a busy year; the expedition and research trail has led me to four continents, some wonderful countries, natural history and adventures. Finding a new first national record of dragonfly for Honduras, watching the sea literally boil with five different species of cetaceans off South Africa’s Western Cape and lying in a hammock taking in the pre-dawn ‘symphony of Gibbons’ in Central Kalimantan are certainly stand-out moments amongst some stunning birding and ornithology.
I have thought long and hard about my bird or birding moment of the year; Martial Eagle, Sun Bittern and 4 range expansions in as many days in Indonesia all featured amongst others, but there is one that I simply cannot shake- a moment I am sure will remain with me for a long time.
Picture yourself in a Central American cloud forest at dawn; a soft yapping is accompanied by the melodic jangle of Slate-coloured Solitaires. Through a clearing in the trees you catch an emerald green-gold flash, a subtle glimpse of magic a blink would miss. A few steps further and you see it, sitting proudly in the open, the bird that emblemises Mesoamerica more than any other. The brightest star of the forest, perfect in every way.
This moment evaporated all my tiredness away, absorbing and transporting me to that timeless, sheer sense of wonder at the natural world that has been present throughout my life.
It reminded me of a picture in one of my favourite books as a child, this connection, over and above the sighting itself, was particularly poignant- an insight into a species that was restricted to a page for me for so many years, but now in real life.
I felt immensely privileged to see ‘the god of the air’ in realtime and its an easy choice for my bird of 2012- Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno.