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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.



Bigwom said...

H and I were just discussing how visually attractive your blog is - we're debating whether it's talent or 40 years in the newspaper biz.

Murray Skinner said...

Impressively large numbers!

No, I don't mean Phoebe's score.
I refer to both 74 and 66.

That's a lot of pins and a lot of years!