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GOS Extended Trips
The Galveston Ornithological Society offers many birding/nature trips to other parts of the Continent, and even overseas to countries like South Africa, Australia, Costa Rica and several in South America. Here is some information on them:
First, we attempt to offer less expensive trips so those living on tighter budgets can participate. In order to do that, we eliminate needless expenses such as five-star hotels, and let the clients purchase their own meals. Our vehicles are not new, and Jim handles most tours and bird identification without local guides.
Also, all trips are quoted on a double-occupancy basis, with participants expected to be willing to room with another same-sex participant. If there is an odd number of women, say, then one will get a private room. The process of determining her will begin by polling the participants, but it may eventually come down to a lottery.
Anyone who insists on a private room must pay for his/her room each night, as two rooms are nearly twice as much as one. If you require a private room, there is a 50-50 chance there’ll be an odd number of your sex, and a good chance you’ll get lucky.
Tuition covers all activities and entrance fees listed in the itinerary. If the group or individuals decide on the trip to pursue other activities that weren’t in the budget, then they may have to pay their way in. If it is simply an expense for the vehicle, such as for a State or National Park, the GOS will pay it.
By far, the main activity on the trip will be bird watching. The most important part of this is finding new species for the trip, and trying to get decent looks at these birds. However, we will also spend some time looking at unique birds, observing interesting behavior, and spectacles such as a rookery. In addition, Jim points out frog calls, picks up snakes for closer inspection, or perhaps a neat artifact on the beach.
A teacher at heart, Jim endeavors to impart information to his clients to make the trip richer. If you are not interested in what he is saying, please do not interfere with the chance for others to learn. It won’t be long! In the van, please remember that some like to relax and think. If you are talking more than those around you, you may be talking too much.
Days on the trips are long, but not too strenuous – perfect for seniors. We often arise early, as the birding is better, and usually get a full day of birding in. However, care is taken to not wear out participants. Opportunities for three meals are given, although we don’t want to sacrifice good birding time for lengthy breakfasts. Lunches are also, at times, fast food, so we don’t lose valuable time. Dinners are relaxed and delicious.
If you wish to keep track of species seen for the trip, or each day, this is your responsibility (although others may help). Jim will identify all birds for you at the time, but he has too many responsibilities to remember birds later in the day, or the next day. We do NOT go over the day’s birds at supper. A tape recorder or field notebook works well, and your roommate or friends can help you remember.
In birding groups, as in all groups, there is a possibility of bruised feelings. Please do your best to respect others and their belongings, plus remember good “talk etiquette.” Politics and religion are dangerous topics, especially expressing partisan opinions. Observations are one thing, but political spin, character assassination and other charged remarks are unproductive and pointless. Please avoid them.
There will be a list of suggestions for daily field trips which are important to read. They are just designed to make our daily birding excursions more productive and successful. Looking them over would be very much appreciated! You will receive them close to the trip.
We ask that you travel relatively light for our trips as space is limited. Soft bags are preferable to hard suitcases as they pack easier. Please don’t bring telescopes without checking with Jim. Same applies for tripod cameras.
You are welcomed to photograph birds so long as you don’t charge ahead and scare them. Jim will try to accommodate you and the groups are usually patient for a few moments, but please don’t try their patience. Occasionally, we will bird at feeders and photographers can really make a killing there with their cameras. And on all trips, Jim will provide participants with a CD of pictures taken by him.
If you have concerns on a trip, see Jim privately. Angry or sarcastic remarks in front of others are unproductive and will elicit little positive response. Mature, diplomatic discussion “behind closed doors” will bring respect and every effort by Jim to meet your concern and find a solution.
Jim tries very hard to be good and fair to everyone and works hard to bring you the very best trip. However, he has his limits. Rude, loud and selfish (talk-a-holic) behavior, and backseat driving, will turn a pleasant atmosphere into an unfortunate confrontation, an event nobody wants.