Michael Douglas is a research meteorologist, who worked for 22 years with NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory. He has had an interest since childhood in many natural history subjects. Born in Montreal, he grew up in San Diego and his university background (physics, geophysics, then meteorology) and work experience (meteorological research) have allowed him to live widely within the US. His work involved widespread travel in Latin America and parts of Africa, and this travel and work continues. Perhaps a better summary of his experiences can be found here.
Rosario Douglas was born in Chile where she lived until the age of 7. She then spent 13 years in Panama. After a year and a half stay in Montreal, Canada learning English and some French she moved to the US to finish her first Bachelor’s degree at Florida State. She has now lived in the US with Mike almost 35 years.
Rosario has degrees in English Literature and Biology and has accompanied Mike during most travels. She shares Mike’s interests in nature, especially birds, and also enjoys the cultural and historical aspects associated with travels.
Rosario is the current webpage editor and Facebook administrator for the Central Oklahoma Cactus and Succulent Society. She also writes articles for the “all about succulents” section of the COC&SS webpage.
We have been fortunate in being able to travel widely (39 countries together – more by Mike) in the last 30 years. Our travels have been a combination of work-related and personal trips. Our more in-depth explorations have been in Latin America (especially Mexico, which we have visited more than 30 times since 1987) and in South Africa (visited 6 times since 2002).
What type of travelers are we?
There are many types of travel. Some people travel for relaxation, some travel for adventure and fun with no specific subject in mind. Other travellers, such as researchers that may be studying a particular organism and need to gather data, usually travel with a very specific purpose in mind. In our case when we try to explain to people why we travel, the word “Naturalist” comes to mind. We, and other similarly-minded travellers, visit places in order to experience and explore nature in all its forms. Relaxation is rarely a component of our travels as we try to do and see as much as possible when visiting a new area or even when revisiting an area. Nature is not static and the same place visited at different times of the year or during an unusually wet year, for example, will provide a different experience.
Birding and photography are two main activities we pursue when we travel. Michael has been interested in photography since he was a teenager and Rosario was introduced to birding in the early 90’s when she took Ornithology courses as part of her course work for her Bachelor’s degree in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology at the University of Colorado. Mike has also been interested in birds since elementary school days. Other interests include: astronomy, botany (especially carnivorous and succulent plants), insects and geology (Mike’s undergraduate degree was in Geophysics). Rosario also enjoys learning about the history, gastronomy, music, crafts and the culture of the places we visit.
In 2010 while visiting Mole National Park in northern Ghana we strolled into the park office looking for a guide. Mr. Zak Wari the chief park ranger approached us and said: “you want to see birds”. When asked how he knew we were interested in birds he replied that he had noticed we both had good quality binoculars. In his experience average tourists do not often carry binoculars with them but birders always do. This is actually an astute observation and we have often observed that even in outstanding places for wildlife viewing, not everyone has binoculars.
Back in Mole National Park we told Mr. Wari that we were not hard-core birders and that we would be happy to see anything of interest (nature related) besides birds that he could point out to us during our tour. His reply was: “Then you are not birders – you are “nature lovers”. A simple statement provided a short yet accurate description of what we are, what we do, and why we do it.