Total Pageviews

Apr 20, 2008

Bird lists and my Tilley hat

I have a couple of Tilley hats. One of them is covered with lapel pins I have picked up on my travels. At last count there are 74 pins and the hat is a bit heavy. Most of them are related to birdwatching or other nature things. There are, however, a number that are mementos of other interests or pastimes. There are pins that have to do with major league sports, canoeing, volunteering, museums, vacations, etc. There are even pins for the FBI and CIA (don't ask).

There are also two American Birding Association pins with the numbers 200 and 300 on them (they're in the photo of my hat, above, at the top, in the centre). I bought these pins for myself when I reached those plateaus on my bird species life list. At one time , not so long ago, I was sure I would reach 500 and then 1,000, and on and on as I chased world champion birder, Phoebe Snetsinger, and her record of 8,450 species. It's now a few years on into my birdwatching career and I'm just 8,076 bird species behind Phoebe. Not that Phoebe is worried about me. She is dead. She died accidently, binoculars in hand, on a birding tour in Madagascar in 1999. Moments before her death, Phoebe had added a very rare Red-shoulder Vanga to her life list.

I've done an about-face now. I no longer think about adding birds to my life list in terms of quantity. Apart from the practical considerations of finding the money to travel to almost every country in the world to see as many species as Phoebe did, now I wake up each day thrilled at the prospect that there are still 8,000 bird species for me to discover. At 66 years of age, I am confident that I will not out-live my hobby. This pleases me.

Please comment if you wish.


Apr 10, 2008

11 new species on my bird 'life list'

My trip to St. Lucia last week produced a bird list of 34 species, 11 of which I had never seen before. The new birds which I have added to my 'life list' include: Brown Booby, Black Swift, Lesser Antillean Pewee, White-breasted Thrasher, Grey Trembler, Adelaide Warbler, St. Lucia Black Finch, Lesser Antillean Saltator, Caribe Grackle, Shiny Cowbird and St. Lucian Oriole. The bird pictured above is a Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, which I first saw in St. Maarten in 2002. Whereas in most Caribbean islands, it is the Banaquit which joins you at your outdoor dining table, in St. Lucia it is the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch that is ubiquitous when one dines alfresco. There are Bananaquits also, but they are outnumbered about 40-1. I've never been to a place where the bird sounds are as pervasive as they are St. Lucia. The 'birdsong' lasted from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and because we had no windows in our rooms (just screens and louvres) we were constantly surrounded by songbird serenades. Each evening, when the birds finally fell silent, the tree frogs took over and provided the lullaby. (Bullfinch photo by Greg Lasley)

Apr 9, 2008

Aaahh, St Lucia...

Linda and I spent last week in St. Lucia and instantly realized it was the most beautiful Caribbean island we had ever visited. We stayed at a resort called Anse Chastanet, just north of the old fishing village of Soufriere and Les Pitons (twin volcanic peaks designated as a World Heritage Sight). The photo above was taken from a rooftop balcony at Anse Chastanet. This was also the view from our room. We swam, snorkelled, hiked, birdwatched, bathed in a hot springs waterfall, toured the farmers market and ancient French plantation ruins, ate incredible food, and listened to nothing but relaxing nature sounds day and night. I even lost 6 lbs. because we had to climb 168 steps from the beach, up the side of a cliff to get to our room. Try that 5 or 6 times a day and the pounds just fall away. No phone, no TV, no radio, no airconditioning, to internet, a king bed under a huge mosquito canopy (never got a bite). Linda and I have always said we want to keep going to new islands in the Caribbean because there are just so many amazing ones to see. But we agreed that St. Lucia is the first one to which we shall make a second visit. Following are a few other pictures of the trip.

There is a picture of our guide, Meno, and me exploring a 250-year-old ruined sugar mill, some local flora, Linda in a volcano-warmed waterfall, and a dusk view over the Caribbean from one of Anse Chastanet's tree-top bars.

Apr 8, 2008

Durkee Deer

My cousin, Barbara Durkee, sent me this photo of 10 White-tailed Deer which she photographed last Thursday morning, from her front door, on Mulberry Court in Sandy Cove Acres, just south of Barrie. Barbara reports this was "...a thrill". It would be for me too.