That’s Malay for “Luggage Mountain,” which is what’s quickly forming in the teaching lab room at the Lab of Ornithology. We’ve been given the room for the next few days, so we’re using it to lay out, inventory, and pack all of our group gear.
The past week or so has been a whirlwind of packing, shopping, last minute tree climbing practice, writing information sheets about our target bird species, watching youtube videos on learning Malay, and lots and lots of logistics. It’s easy to become really focused on the stressful parts about preparing for an expedition – making sure we’re not forgetting anything, working out permits, going over first aid scenarios – and forget about what the expedition is really about: the rainforest and the birds. But yesterday, we got an email from Justin and Julian, two of our older group members who are already in Borneo. They went a week ahead of the rest of the group to work out some in-country logistics, and although they seemed busy and exhausted from the email, they also mentioned being tantalized by birds like kingfishers, flowerpeckers, and “insanely colorful doves.” I still can’t quite believe that in just a few days I’ll be in Borneo!
I’ve never been to the tropics before (I’ve barely ever been out of North America) so it’ll be a completely new experience for me. After more than seven years of birding in the Eastern US, I rarely even have to look at bird guides here anymore, but I’ll have to get used to knowing almost nothing about most of the gorgeous and often difficult to see Bornean birds. It may be frustrating at times, but it’ll also be really exciting – everything I see will be something new, and every unfamiliar whistle I hear off in the distance could be a beautiful pheasant or trogon.