Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bird Explorers Christmas Letter 2010

Blue Tit from 2009 Christmas Trip to Sweden

To all our wonderful friends:

2010 brought many changes, but all in all was very kind and gentle to both of us. After our move to Bangkok, Thailand in early 2009 and using most of the year to settle in and get our bearings, Wojciech headed out into a brand new assignment in early 2010. In March, he received a placement with UN OCHA in Northern Sri Lanka based in Vavuniya. He would be working in this role until November 2010.

While it is never good being separated for so long, the assignment was an excellent experience, and Wojciech was able to be integrally involved in helping the people of this war-torn region to begin to try to get back their normal lives and routines after decades of civil war. Wojciech dealt daily with critical issues like mine clearing, resettlement of displaced people and protection for vulnerable women and children. It was very hard work and very long hours, but the rewards of helping people to get back on their feet are very strong. Wojciech was also surrounded by fantastic colleagues in the UN and other development NGOs and formed lots of close bonds over the year.

Back in Bangkok, Kevin continued enjoying his role of the South and Southeast Asia Director for the World Society for the Protections of Animals. Helping the region’s bears, elephants and other wildlife as well as working to help companion animals and addressing the many issues with dogs and cats is very rewarding although we still have such a long way to go out here in the region. In addition to helping the region’s animals, WSPA is very fulfilling in being able to work with so many committed and talented young people in a fun and energetic multi-cultural office with staff comprised of citizens of Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and France and lots of visitors from other places.

WSPA Staff at 2010 Christmas Party

With Wojciech based in Sri Lanka, we both organised our wildlife photography work around South Asia, with 2 expeditions to Sri Lanka and 2 to India including Kashmir and Rajasthan as well as many short trips in both countries.

Chukar from Kashmir

Kevin also got a small trip to the Dorsett countryside around Weymouth and Portland, where he finally tracked down and got good photos of the illusive Bearded Reedling.

Bearded Reedling

The Sri Lanka expeditions were quite fun and took us to many parts of the island’s south from the coast up to the highlands. In the end, we photographed 19 of the 24 endemic species and 40 of the 74 endemic subspecies including the world’s rarest owl, Serendib Scops-Owl.

Serendib Scops-Owl

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

Another fun development in 2010 was the growth in Social Networking for us. Our Bird Explorers Facebook account went from a few hundred to now over 3,300 from over 100 countries. We have no idea why it got so popular, but we are very much enjoying meeting so many new and interesting people from around the globe. Anyone wanting to join our Facebook Page can just search Bird Explorers and you will find us.

The end of the year finds us in Poland enjoying the cold and snowy conditions after so much heat and tropical humidity this year. This is Wojciech’s first time home for Christmas in 17 years, as we normally have gone back at Easter. So, we are decorating the house from stem to stern and cooking up a storm. Wojciech’s mom is very happy to have him home.

Wojciech playing in the snow with Borsuk and WiewiĆ³rka

Kevin playing in the snow with Borsuk and WiewiĆ³rka

We are very thankful for the nice year, and hope that all of you have had a wonderful year too. There is so much difficulty and pain in the world these days, so we are truly grateful for our blessings that we have and try our best to never take them for granted and help our fellow citizens and animal friends the best we can. May 2011 likewise be good, gentle and kind to everyone. Whatever form your holidays and new year takes, we greatly appreciate your friendship and wish you all the best!!

Thanks to everyone for the great and rich friendships.

Wojciech and Kevin

Ceylon Magpie