Raffi: Volunteering for Birds and People

P1610923My name is Raffi Berberian and I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

I have been a Birthright Armenia Volunteer since mid-June. I have been a photographer since my first year of University, 5 years ago. I did a lot of social event and sports photography and was the lead photographer for my University's newspaper and yearbook. I enjoy landscape and astrophotography. I love being out in nature and go camping regularly when I am at hope.

Since coming to Armenia I have done many interesting outdoor things such as climbing Mt. Aragats and camping at Lastiver, but I had not really seen too much wildlife.  Armenia's natural landscapes are amazing but always seemed to lack a large variety of birds and other animals.  My experience at Armash was my first experience in Armenia where I saw interesting wildlife and I was genuinely surprised.

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During my time at Armash I have discovered amazing views of the Ararat valley and some of the most beautiful birds.  We stayed in a tent and lived by the light of the sun.  In the mornings we woke up with the sunrise and went out to record the birds during one of their most active times.  During the days we would walk around in search of more birds as they seemed more elusive during the height of the day.

We were floating on the water in our little camouflaged boat trying to sneak up on any birds on the water or standing near it.  Unluckily,  we were mostly unsuccessful. Each day we would make it back to our camp just before dark, cook dinner, and then relax outside until the mosquitoes started swarming.  At a certain point all you would hear would be buzzing and that is when we would go in our tent and go to sleep.  During the night we could hear the packs of jackals howling and running around which was a little scary.

I am really glad to have been able to have this unique Armenian experience.  I was able to combine so many of my interests into one amazing trip.  I saw beautiful birds, amazing scenery, and was able to experience things I never thought were possible during my volunteering time in Armenia. 

Thank you to Birthright Armenia and the ASPB for making this possible!

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