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Dr. Ponder’s Journal #2: Packing for the Birds

Dr. Julia Ponder, executive director of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, is traveling to the Galápagos Islands to support efforts to restore an endangered Giant Tortoise population. In this series of journal entries originally posted on The Raptor Center’s blog, Dr. Ponder will share her experiences over the course of two months. For background on her trip, click here to read or here to watch a video, and be sure to check back in to Health Talk to follow the project!


All of this has to go with me!

Picture the situation – limited luggage allowances, small boats, equipping a “field hospital,” a few personal items for 5 weeks. And, oh yeah, at least some camera equipment! I am beginning to think that one pair of shorts will have to do me for 5 weeks!

Packing, blue tub

All of the items in this photo need to go, too – and all into the blue tub circled at the top!

First and foremost, I am trying to pull together everything I need for the hawks. After all, my primary job in Galapagos is to keep the hawks healthy and alive. While many items are obvious, I want to be prepared for whatever I might face. Luckily, we made excellent notes during our last project there. The pictures here show the collection of supplies we have pulled together over the past few weeks. And the container I asked my tech to fit everything in. He wasn’t exactly pleased. Size and weight, however, matter as I have to be able to haul everything I need.

Nancy Pryce cuts tail sheaths for the hawks.

Nancy Pryce cuts tail sheaths for the hawks.

One of our volunteers, Nancy Pryce, assisted with creating very valuable “tail sheaths” – these little “envelopes” will be fitted over the hawks’ tails to protect the feathers when they are in captivity.

At home, things look about the same (sorry, no pictures). My dining room has discrete piles of what “must” come, what “should” come and a “what I would like to have if I can fit it in.” I am trying to decide which category my tea bags fit in. While the small comforts of home can make your day in the field, I can’t really say they are a “must.” Camera gear, however, is a must. Exactly what I take will be very limited, but a good camera system in Galapagos is a priority. And a side benefit will be sharing pictures with you through this blog. Stay tuned!


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