Alex Vargas’ photos always really stood out to me on facebook. And over the years I have spent more and more time exploring his various galleries to see what he has been up to and to be moved by the images he produces. Over the summer, I got to meet Alex and his family, and to spend some time with him in a bird hide near Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand. What a wonderful experience that was. So we ended up asking Alex if he would do us the honour of joining us on BirdingBlogs.com.
How and when did you get started in birding?
I started – influenced by my beloved father – at the age of five. My dad had had banana feeders as long as I can remember and my mom loved the colorful show… she still does!
The first feeder I can recall, was on the backyard of our house in Tibás, San Jose – capital of my natal Costa Rica. Some residents like Rufous-collared Sparrow and Blue-Gray Tanager were usual customers, but every end of the year, the big deal was on with the arrival of the migratory (“veraneros” as my parents will call them) such as Summer Tanager and Baltimore Oriole will station for months.
Such was my passion for the birds since little, that my dad named me Don Gato (Mr Cat) which is the nickname many people will only know me by to this day…
But that wasn’t the end of your birding history… right?
Oh no… not by far… Birds and my love for them, later became a job and subsequently a profession as I started guiding at La Selva Biological Station after completing a full course with OTS and WWF while in high school at 15 years of age and birding was my strong call since the very beginning.
I guided birders for 21 seasons in Costa Rica (most of it) and some of Latin America later… I did some of this and that (mostly administration) along the way, but not a single season stayed without taking a few groups in high season… Not only for my passion, but because it was my strongest income line as well.
How and where is birding in your life today?
I decided to work hard to stay at home and try to raise a family… that meant quitting my guiding career for good and I have 6 years living in Asia, where I work in Tourism Business Administration… however, birding has never and will never stop!… I changed the scope for the lens, but still carry around my tripod and my memory cards are full of birds!
After studying photography and Photoshop seriously at a Japanese University and graduating in 2009, bird-photography has become the greatest passion in my life and I’m super lucky to share that with my wife and daughter, whom are avid birders and enthusiastic photographers.
So, Asia is your birding ground nowadays?
Yes Thailand –where we reside- is a great base and my main playground for my birding photo adventures. I’m also exploring little by little some other lands around and had enjoyed for example the wonderful Malaysian Borneo… In fact, since I got to Asia, I had traveled quite a bit and I find myself enjoying and sharing some nice bird galleries from four continents already.
Then, where is birding in your future?
Oh I have big plans in the long term as I have a beautiful piece of Rainforest in Costa Rica (next to my mom’s property in Sarapiqui –Caribbean Lowlands-) with lots of great birds!
In the short term basis, in 2012 will spend a couple of months in the great American Continent again and can’t wait to visit some friends and get many great images of cool birds as planned -so far- in Canada, USA, Costa Rica and –probably- Panama!
For 2013 I have a plan with a couple of Costa Rican friends –photographers as well- to visit Africa (my first time!) and accomplish two of my biggest dreams: to get to my 5000 bird sight and to have a gallery of African birds and many other great wildlife!
Where can we see your birds online?
Well, my galleries are here:
…and I have a forum where I share with birder friends from around the globe here:
Finally, why join BirdingBlogs?… what do you expect to accomplish here?
BirdingBlogs is full of great masters of the birdwatching and bird-science worlds and being part of such a group is quite an honor for me… I hope to be able to speak for the little I know and the much I have seen as I hope to learn and enjoy from everyone else that loves what I love.
As a Costa Rican native and as a Thailand’s resident, I hope to bring some diversity and would love to share my perspective of birding with everyone, this time from behind the camera… I want to create a voice based on the bird-photography around the world and all the greatness of it… My theme might be Birds and Bird-Photography