Tranquilo Bay at the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

What a delight to help Jim Kimball represent Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge this past month for the 23rd annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida!

Tranquilo Bay Owner Jim Kimball and Stacey M. Hollis, Tranquilo Bay Guide (sporting a signature Tranquilo Bay Tree Hugger shirt), in Tranquilo’s booth at this year’s Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.

This annual festival, held along Florida’s Atlantic coast is one of connecting folks within the bird and nature-loving community while inviting them to explore and learn about birds and wildlife in a multitude of ways and across a diverse variety of destinations worldwide. One such destination represented, by Jim Kimball and yours truly, was Panama’s own Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge located on the enchanting island of Bastimentos set in the sparkling Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro!

Surrounded by vivid and colorful photos of Tranquilo Bay birds and nature, I helped Jim man our booth at the festival. The bustling event was rife with birders, photographers, travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, nature guides, wildlife artists and all manner of nature travel-related vendors.

And the atmosphere was lively and ebullient as festival-goers and vendors alike shared stories about what they’d seen birding that morning (the festival puts on a plethora of guided nature excursions each day) in addition to many jovial renditions among outdoor enthusiasts attendees as they shared nature and wildlife experiences had both nationally and abroad, and there was, of course, plenty of discussion about future travel ideas and possibilities.

Some of the many colorful viewing possibilities at Tranquilo Bay Lodge!

An aisle down from us at the festival were our friends the Bethancourt family, members of the beloved Canopy Family, which encompasses a set of three lodges from central to eastern Panama that offer spectacular diversity in birding in a variety of key locations and ecosystems around the country. For folks who want a more complete idea of Panama’s abundant nature and diverse culture, we partner with Canopy Family to offer a joint package that seamlessly interlaces to provide a paired Tranquilo/Canopy experience that provides a robust display of true, wild Panama, a country with so much to offer from each of its many colorful corners.

The Bethancourt kids, Cristy and Roberto were looking stunning in their traditional Panamanian garb, ready for a folkloric dance performance at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.

For Jim, it’s fun to reconnect friends and colleagues that he knows through previous bird fairs and the business itself. I also really enjoyed seeing folks I’ve met while guiding at Tranquilo Bay and I was pleased to make many new connections with a lot of very passionate people dedicated to sharing nature with others. 

The festival also featured some wildly talented nature artists who displayed and sold all manner of bird-centric paintings which captured the eye of each and every festival-goer that passed by…including mine! I was especially drawn to and enamored with Christina Baal’s lively and colorful work in her Drawing Ten Thousand Birds endeavor and I simply fell in love with a piece I bought from Kate Dolamore, an American Kestrel, which was my spark bird back in 1990.

Art by Kate Dolamore and Christina Baal

It was great to meet up with Eliana Ardila Kramer of Birding by Bus, also one of the founding members of Phoebes Birding, a group dedicated to getting women and girls out into nature for birdwatching and shared outdoor experiences with like-minded ladies. Now that I can get behind!

Eliana, Jim and Luisa Conto (Nature Colombia)
For every donor that contributed $20 , Eliana would lay a red-lipstick smooch of thanks!

Eliana is raising money this year for the Champions of the Flyway birding competition. The competition was created in an effort to raise awareness around the decline of migratory raptors illegally hunted along their migratory pathways in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

This annual event is hosted by Birdlife International and partners, and the funds raised will be directed toward putting identified measures into place to combat this global issue. We at Tranquilo Bay along with many other folks at the fair thought it was a very worthy cause..and it showed on our cheeks!

While it was a busy festival and we got a lot done, Jim and I did manage to get out to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a couple of times to enjoy the richness of Florida’s coastal environments before heading back down to our Caribbean island home..

So all in all, we had a blast, met some really great folks and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends. I’m really looking forward to encountering many of the nature lovers I met at the festival again in the future, perhaps greeting them as they arrive to Tranquilo Bay, set here in this lush, tropical corner of Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 2014

In Late January, Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge had the incredible opportunity to attend the 17th annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in beautiful Titusville, Florida.  For Tranquilo Bay the festival was an astounding success, we will definitely be returning for SCBWF 2015.  We really appreciate Neta Harris for helping us find an opening and all the hard-working volunteers that made this festival very special.

We were able to network with many key vendors and industry specialists in the birding, wildlife, and naturalist niches.  I had a blast trying out all the incredible optics from proven companies like, Leica, Zeiss, Nikon, Eagle Optics, and Swarovski to name a few.  What fun, all the optics booths were lined up with Jonathan Wood’s “Raptor Project” which made for great test-driving of all the latest spotting scopes and binoculars.

The talks and seminars conducted by the best experts in the birding and wildlife world were both fun and informative.

We met so many nice people who came by our booth with a luminous curiosity about Panama, Tranquilo Bay, and the Western Caribbean Slope.  It was wonderful to share the videos, pictures, and experiences that our local naturalist guides have everyday birding and wildlife watching here in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Panama was well represented at the Space Coast Festival, which I feel made us look strong as a birding, wildlife and nature destination.  Our friends Jeri and Linda Harrison represented the outstanding group of properties located throughout Panama, The Canopy Tower Family.  Many of the best nature tour companies were there such as Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, Bird Quest and Cheepers Birding, all with several well-planned and proven Panama birding tours.

Panama is really growing fast as a birding destination.  New areas like the Darien and Western Caribbean Slope are opening up to birders and constantly proving to be richer in diversity than previously believed.  We just hope that the bird watchers are watching Panama.

Thanks again to everyone from the 2014 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, we are already looking forward to seeing you next year.