Sunday, December 2, 2012

Brown Pelican invasion

Just last week I added Brown Pelican to my British Columbia and Canada list, when I saw one bird at the Victoria harbour. Yesterday I saw 11 in the same location, and according to reports there has been as many as 21! For whatever the reason, it certainly seems like an invasion.

Until next time, happy birding.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Couple of Birds

The past week or two has been typical winter weather here on southern Vancouver Island - long periods of wind and rain with intermittent breaks of cold air but with sunny sky's. Last Saturday Joanna and I went in search of a few unusual birds: Tropical Kingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Snowy Owl, and Brown Pelican. The weather was so poor however, we went home empty handed.

The next day, Sunday, we tried again for the same species. We missed all except Snowy Owl - a single immature male on Mary Todd Islet just off of Oak Bay marina. This was a new addition to my British Columbia checklist.

On Wednesday I had to go to Vancouver for a business meeting. Usually I take a float plane, but the forecast when I booked the ticket was for low cloud and high wind - two weather conditions that can result in flight delays or cancellations. To avoid potentially missing the meeting, I booked a flight with Helijet, which often can fly in conditions that are off limits to floats. I boarded the Sikorsky S-76 machine at 7:50am, and just as the rotor was winding up to full speed, a Brown Pelican flew by, providing an excellent view. This sighting was new to both my Canada and British Columbia checklist.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Clement's 6.7

The latest update to the Clement's Checklist (version 6.7) was made available through the Cornell Lab or Ornithology on 28 September 2012. The resulting changes increased my life list total by one species. Gray Hawk was split, resulting in a new species, the Gray-lined Hawk. I had seen the former in Arizona, and the latter in Panama. My life list is now 1,228.

A couple of other splits in the list have resulted in me having seen a species different from the original nominate. These include Thrush-like Schiffornis, split into five species, of which I have seen Rufous-winged Schiffornis in Panama, and Stonechat, split into three species, of which I have seen European Stonechat.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Northeast BC in Fall

I just spent last Sunday flying through the northern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia doing some reconnaissance survey work for an upcoming wildlife field program. What a fantastic day, with beautiful blue sky, crisp autumn colors, and a few bird sightings to boot. Bird highlights included several small flocks of Red-winged Blackbird, a Mountain Bluebird, and a few American Pipits. On a couple of remote, high elevation lakes I found Common Goldeneye and a female Hooded Merganser. A Northern Harrier and Sharp-shinned Hawk were also seen zipping past the helicopter. Below are a couple of photos from the trip.

Until next time, happy birding.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

3 lifers from the couch

Yesterday I finally made time to update my life list according to the latest revisions of The Clement's Checklist of Birds of the World. By way of splits and lumps (and one small correction to my list), I had a net gain of three new species. Here's how it broke down:

Common Moorhen: the species was split to form Eurasian Moorhen and Common Gallinule. Result was +1 to the life list, as I have seen Eurasian Moorhen in England and Common Gallinule in the United States.

Winter Wren: the species was split to form Eurasian Wren, Pacific Wren and Winter Wren. Result was +2 to the life list, as I have seen Eurasian Wren in England, Pacific Wren throughout western British Columbia and Washington, and Winter Wren in northeast British Columbia and northern Alberta.

Blue-crowned Motmot: the species was split to form Amazonian Motmot, Whooping Motmot and Blue-crowned Motmot. Result was +1 to the life list, as I have seen Amazonian Motmot on the eastern slope of the Andes in Ecuador, and Whooping Motmot in the canal zone of Panama.

So as you can seen, the total above is +4, but the title of the blog posting is 3 lifers from the couch. That's because I discovered an error in my list - I accidentally had European Turtle-Dove checked for my United States sub-list, which was supposed to be Eurasian Collared-Dove. It hurt to remove a species, but the honor system among birders and their checklists runs deep.

In addition to the above noted changes to my life list, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (seen in Panama) is now lumped with Black-mandibled Toucan. As I had not yet seen the latter, the resulting change had no effect on my life list tally.

Another 70+ species in my life list were affected by name changes. Some were relatively straight-forward (i.e., genus changed), and others were more complicated. As en example of the latter, Mexican Jay was split and the original Latin name was given to the new species, Transvolcanic Jay; I have only seen Mexican Jay. The same thing happened with Naumann's Thrush, which was split from Dusky Thrush; I have only seen Dusky Thrush.

I hope my next lifer is from the wilds, and not from a checklist update!

Until next time, happy birding.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eurasain Collared Dove

The species has been expanding its range almost exponentially over the past decade, but this year in particular they have exploded on southern Vancouver Island. For the past few years I used to see one or two every few weeks; now I am seeing them daily and in locations where I had not previously seen them. In Brentwood Bay I saw five together - possibly a family group given the time of year. It will be interesting to see how this invasive species will contribute to the balance of things.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Orange-breasted Falcon

Luck must have been on my side. I was perusing e-bird and checking occurrence records of some species I had seen while I was in Ecuador. While there seemed to be a fairly good number of records representing many of the species I did see, quite surprisingly there were only two records of Orange-breasted Falcon. Therefore, I just added the third record, from Wild Sumaco Lodge on 19 October 2011.

Having done some homework prior to visiting Ecuador, I knew this bird was going to be tough. There was some indication that the species could be seen on the main road between Narupa and the turnoff to Wild Sumaco, but we didn't see one. However, given the proximity of this known location to the lodge, and the paucity of records on e-bird, luck was clearly on my side that day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Neotropical Birds of Prey

In the mailbox today, Neotropical Birds of Prey: Biology and Ecology of a Forest Raptor Community.

I've barely had time to flip through the pages, but this book looks like a much-needed piece of work on the ecology of this top-of-the-food-chain bird group. The book, with contributions from 26 authors, is divided into 23 chapters. All chapters are from the Maya Project (Chapter 1) and are focused on a single raptor community occurring in the Maya Forest (Chapter 2) of northern Guatemala. The following 20 chapters are species-centric, and include Gray-headed Kite, Hook-billed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Double-toothed Kite, Plumbeous Kite, Bicolored Hawk, Crane Hawk, White Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Crested Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Collared Forest-Falcon, Laughing Falcon, Bat Falcon, Orange-breasted Falcon, Mexican Wood Owl, and Black-and-white Owl. The final chapter provides a discussion on the ecology and conservation of Tikal`s raptor fauna.

The great thing about this book is that it's readable. Much of it is natural history, supported quantitatively with easy to understand information such as average distance between nest sites, number of identified prey items, body mass, food niche breadth, and other useful metrics.

While I can't yet say how good the book is, I would say that for a restricted region, it is of the calibre of Palmer's Handbook of North American Raptors or Johnsgards Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of North America. Very much looking forward to wading into this book!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another book...

This morning I had to pop downtown to renew my passport. After doing so, I made a quick visit to Russel Books on Fort Street and picked up To See Every Bird on Earth. On my way out of the store, one book in the Love and Relationships section caught my eye, Why Can't I Find Mr. Right?

Simple. It's because he's birding!

Dancing Anna's

On Tuesday July 24 there was a male Anna's Hummingbird in my garden that spent the better part of 2 minutes snatching small flies from mid-air. The flies had recently hatched from my pond and were swarming above it in a warm beam of evening sunlight. The Anna's simply darted around plucking them off one by one. By my count he caught 30-40 individuals.

Monday, July 23, 2012

East Sooke Park

Usually we head to East Sooke Park in September to watch migrant birds and sea lions pass through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This time however, we wound up in the park on 15 July. As expected the park was very quite, particularly in the Strait. On the walk through the old second-growth forest we heard Wilson's Warbler, Red Crossbill, Brown Creeper, a calling Olive-sided Flycatcher (singing seems to be over), Pacific Wren and Varied Thrush. We flushed a Song Sparrow from what was sure to be a nest, but darn those are hard to find. On the water we spotted two Rhinocerous Auklets and a lone Marbled Murrelet. Two Bald Eagles sat on Secretary Island.

Business as Unusual

In late June and early July I made two trips to Calgary, Alberta for a couple of business meetings. Although I travelled only from the airport to the downtown business core, I did pick up a couple of year-birds. On the first trip I spotted American White Pelican from the airplane as we approached the airport from the south, low over the Bow River. Shortly after landing a I spotted two Swainson's Hawk's soaring over Deerfoot Trail. On my second trip to Calgary I picked up Yellow-headed Blackbird in a small slough that was sure to ploughed under by this time next year as the Calgary Airport undergoes expansion. Thankfully, Alberta wetlands lost due to development are being compensated for through the creation or restoration of other wetlands. Time will tell how successful these efforts are.

Northern Alberta

My field season has been extremely limited this year due to extensive office work. However, I did manage to get some great boreal birds during a five day visit to a site in northeast Alberta. From 3 to 8 June I added the following for the year:

Canada Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Le Conte's Sparrow, Black-and-White Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Palm Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Magnolia Warbler, Least Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Clay-colored Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Evening Grosbeak, Mourning Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Common Grackle, Swamp Sparrow, Winter Wren, Tennessee Warbler, Blue Jay, and Broad-winged Hawk.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

At Sea in B.C.

Having lived in British Columbia for more than 12 years, and having done pelagic trips in California and Washington, it's almost hard to believe it has taken this long to do a pelagic bird trip in my home province. Truth of the matter, however, is that pelagic trips, or at least the availability of them, are not a regular occurrence in British Columbia - at least until now!

WildResearch (, a federated club under BC Nature, believes in identifying and developing solutions to conservation issues through a multidisciplinary approach using research, monitoring, training. One such avenue for achiving this has been the creation and deployment of pelagic trips in BC waters. Their first trip, based out of Ucluelet, BC, was in September 2011. Their second trip, and the one I went on, was on 29 April 2012 and also based out of Ucluelet. In total, 86 people went on this trip, including four Stantec wildlife biologists (pictured below, left to right: Marcel Gahbauer, Kent Russell, myself, and Christina Ball).

The boat, the M.V. Frances Barkley, departed the government dock in at 7:00am and headed immediately west into relatively rough seas. Upon departure we saw hundreds of Western Sandpipers and a few Dunlin, as well as several Mew Gull's and Common Merganser. Our first true seabird, located about 10 kilometers off the coast, was Sooty Shearwater, followed shortly by Sabine's Gull and Black-footed Albatross. Further out to sea we spotted Ancient Murrelet, Rhinocerous Auket, Red-necked Phalarope, Marbled Murrelet, Common Murre and Bonaparte's Gull.

The highlight for just about everyone on the trip was British Columbia's 22nd record of Manx Shearwater. This bird would have been a lifer for me had I not seen one just a week ago in England! Other highlights included Red Phalarope and Tufted Puffin, as well as a few Pink-footed Shearwaters. Quite surprisingly we did not get any terns, jaegers or fulmars, but what we lacked here was certainly made up for by an impressive array of mammals, including Orca (4), Gray Whale (3), Humpback Whale (70+) and Sea Otter (1). Back at the dock we were treated to a small group of Northern Sea Lions awaiting fish scraps from the local fishing cleaning stations.

For my first pelagic trip in British Columbia I'd have to say it went very well. Over the years I hope WildResearch is able to sustain a large-enough number of participants to ensure these trips are run at least annually, assuming bi-annual trips may not be sustainable. I certainly would attend a fall trip, and think that with enough time, this could become the first long-term pelagic census of seabirds on British Columbia's south coast.

Special thanks to all of the WildResearch organizers, and especially to Christine Rock for providing me with a copy of the "Stantec group of four" photo, and to Paul Levesque for his stunning image of a Black-footed Albatross. Thanks also to the "official" on-board spotters. Lastly, it was wonderful to have met so many new and old acquaintances, and Marcel, I do hope you get your Surfbird one day!

Friday, May 4, 2012

South England in a Day

4:15am. To most, this is an ungodly hour to get out of bed on most days, let alone a weekend. But for a birder, this is the norm, and for a biologist, this is called sleeping in.

Simon Buckingham, whom I met in Panama in February, arrived at Hinksey Golf Club with his good mate Howard Jolliffe at 5:00am. After a quick meet-and-greet, it was off to the southcoast in twilight. After about an hour of driving we stopped for essential supplies - coffee and a muffin! No time to waste eating in the shop though, as it was back on the road as we had a lot of ground to cover. It was evident that Simon was on a mission - to increase my chances of finding lifers and to not waste precious time. Zipping along the motorway at 70+ miles per hour, we picked up highway quickies - Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Common Buzzard.

Our first port-of-call was, well, Portland Bill, a large rocky island connected by a narrow promontory and soon-to-be host site of the 2012 summer Olympics sailing events. But we were not there to sightsee; we were there to get birds. We made a few small stops on the way to the lighthouse to scan for birds, but generally it was slow going until we parked and took a short walk around the tip of the most southerly seaward bluffs. Within moments I had my first lifer - a Whinchat. This was shortly followed by lifers two, three, and four: Manx Shearwater, Razorbill, and Little Gull. We picked up a few other goodies along the way, including Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Wheatear, Northern Gannet, Meadow Pipit, and Rock Pipit. Surprisingly, we also got a Common Raven, a year tic bird for Simon and Howard.

After searching for a few other highlights such as Ring Ouzel, and failing, it was soon decided that we press on. From Portland Bill we went to Raddipole, a small RSPB reserve in Portland. Here we were in search of marsh and reed specialties, and although we couldn't find Water Rail, I did get fantastic looks at two lifers: Cetti's Warbler and Bearded Tit. Overall, bird activity at Raddipole was somewhat muted, unless we counted the non-feathered variety of birds! A lady of the night walked by in shorts that could have been mistaken for a belt, and another woman taking photos of the local wildlife was dressed in a halter-top; we were bundled up in fleece coats and hats - it was only 8 degrees Celsius. Apparently we were wimps!

From Raddipole we made a long drive to the Thursley Common National Nature Reserve. Along the way we picked up sandwiches, snacks and drinks, and once again ate en route. One noticeable change from Portland Bill to Thursley was the weather. At Portland Bill it was lovely and sunny with a light wind - perfect for birding. Toward Thursley, thick dark clouds billowed in the distance, and as we approached the wind picked up and intermittent showers commenced. Once at Thursley we headed out into the great swamp - yes, a swamp. Despite earlier reports that England was suffering from an 18 month drought, it appeared as if any rain that did fall, fell on Thursley. The main trail was similar to the Dead Marshes from Lord of the Rings - or perhaps I'm embellishing a bit - there wasn't as many bugs or dead bodies than depicted in the books.

Birding at Thursley was pretty thin, as periodic showers and a cool breeze whisked across the open common.  Highlights included two lifers: Common Redstart and Woodlark, the latter merely a speck in the scope but good enough to see key field marks. Other good birds included Peregrine Falcon, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Great Grey Shrike (a.k.a. Northern Shrike). We departed at about 3:00pm, and that was the end of a great day of birding. We arrived back at Hinksey at 4:15pm. Both Simon and Howard were fantastic hosts, and a true comical duo constantly teasing each other over birds seen, or not seen, by the other; Hooded Merganser was a particularly sensitive species for Howard. The day ended with an invite to join them on a trip to Ecuador in February - very tempting, and a very difficult decision. This will take a bit of time to decide, and perhaps some serious convincing of Joanna that  it really is necessary to revisit the country. The major selling point is that the trip would be led by Tropical Birding, one of the leading tour operators for guided birding throughout the world. Tropical Birding was also the primary guide for the authors of The Biggest Twitch.

Thanks again Simon and Howard for 8 lifers.

Until next time, happy birding wherever you may be.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spain in 5

Joanna and I just got back from our first trip to Spain. A whirlwind 5-day self-guided birding tour from Malaga to Gibraltar, Seville, Donana National Park, and back to Malaga. When we weren't lost, caught in the rain, or searching desperately for something to eat, the birding was actually pretty good.

The first day of birding got off to a late start due to road closures in Marbella, and when we finally got to our destination we were greeted by gale-force winds and near-freezing temperatures. We did manage to seek out a few species clinging to branches before being hastily blown to the next country! These included Subalpine Warbler, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting and Southern Grey Shrike. In the sky overhead we had soaring Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, and Bonelli's Eagle. Later on in the day, in the vicinity of Ronda, we had Woodchat Shrike, Blue Rock-Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Rock Petronia, and Nightingale. We ended the day near La Linea, just outside of Gibraltar.

Our second day of birding began at Gibraltar, but upon arrival we were notified that the passage of birds was very poor and that the winds were blowing in the wrong direction. Confidently, the banders at the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society station told us there was little chance of any hawk migration. Disappointed, we decided to cut our losses and head north toward Seville. Along the way we picked up numerous Yellow-legged Gulls and White Storks, as well as smaller numbers of Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Crested Lark and European Serin. At a small botanical garden we picked up Western Bonelli's Warbler and Iberian Chiffchaff, and at a small lagoon we found Great Reed Warbler and Zitting's Cisticola.

After much confusion in figuring out how to get to our next destination, the third day of birding was spent at Brazo Del Este, a series of wetlands interspersed among extensive agricultural fields just west of Dos Hermanas. The birding here was the best so far, and quickly we picked up Little Ringed Plover, Bee-eater, Collared Pratincole, Purple Heron, Penduline Tit, Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pied Avocet, Kentish Plover and Eurasian Thick-Knee. We ended the day at El Rocio, where despite prior information that the estuary here should not be missed at sunset for its spectacular bird aggregations, it was surprisingly underwhelming. In the far distance we did see about 5,000 Greater Flamingos, but given the distance they could have been plastic dummies on sticks and we'd have been none the wiser.

We began our fourth day of birding in Donana National Park, almost immediately adjacent to El Rocio, on the opposite side of the main road. In just 3 hours we had 46 species, including great looks at 7 lifers: Crested Tit, Squacco Heron, Eurasian Hoopoe, Dartford Warbler, Red-crested Pochard, Azure-winged Magpie, and Red-rumped Swallow. From Donana we made our way toward Punta Umbria near Huelva. On the way we stopped at Marismas Del Odeil, a large estuary and mudflat located between two large spits. Here we located a number of shorebirds, including Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Little Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Common Redshank and Ringed Plover. The highlight was a Montagu's Harrier. At the hotel in Punta Umbria we ended the day watching Northern Gannets plunge for food into the Atlantic.

Our final day of birding in Spain, and it was a long one. We began at Marismas Del Odeil, where in addition to many of the species we found yesterday, we added Southern Grey Shrike, Red-crested Pochard, Whimbrel, Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Pied Avocet, Little Tern, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Sandwich Tern, Red Knot and Caspian Tern. From here we headed to Seville to do tourist type things, which in birder terms means no birding. Afterward we continued east to Laguna Dolce where we picked up White-headed Duck, then to Teba Sierra for Red-billed Chough, and Treba Canyon for Black Wheatear and Eurasian Crag-Martin. As the sun set during our descent into Malaga, we reflected on our crazy five days of mayhem. If we were to do this trip again, we would certainly do it differently, and spend more time in one area rather than sprint across the country in a mad dash bird grab.

We departed Malaga the next morning and arrived back in Oxford at about 2pm. For the trip I added 50 new species to my life list. Not a shabby total considering persistent hiccups.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Scope

Woo hoo! Today I took the train to Bath and got a new scope; a Swarovski ATM 80 with 20-60x eyepiece. Remarkable just how difficult this was to get. Before leaving for the U.K. I tried getting one from Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, and Seattle, but to no avail. Once in the U.K. I thought for sure I could get one in Oxford, but again I was sorely mistaken. Thankfully I met a couple of birders at Otmoor who suggested I try Ace Camera. After a quick e-mail to the store, the staff confirmed having one in stock; all I needed to do was go and get it.

I caught the train out of Oxford at 9:36am and was in Bath for 11:00am. I spent the first bit of time there picking up some British sweets for family back home, and then went for lunch. Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls were flying around town, and ubiquitous Rock Pigeon's were outside every cafe. By 12:30pm I rolled into the camera store. At no more than 12 feet wide and 30 feet long, this little shop had an impressive collection of high-end optics. After checking over the scope I wanted, including looking at a fake stuffed owl that the camera shop owner had placed high up in a church window, I was pleased with the product and made the purchase. Normally I can't wait to put new toys to good use, but this week I've been down with a horrible cold and feel like crawling under a warm blanket and emerging some time next month!

I'm not sure what my first 'scope' bird will be, but I hope it's a good one. I remember clearly the first bird I saw in my original Nikon scope in 1990 was a Northern Pygmy-Owl; kind of hard to beat that one.

Well, until next time, when hopefully I can report back on the first scope bird, happy birding wherever you may be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hinksey, Oxford

Joanna and I had quick walk this morning through a small wood at the Hinksey golf club. It was terribly windy and cold, but we did spot a few good birds including Green Woodpecker, Blackcap and several Chiffchaff's. The best bird, and only my second-ever sighting, was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Later on in the day, while visiting family, we also had a good look at a Song Thrush.

Of interest today, I just started reading The Biggest Twitch by Alan Davis and Ruth Miller. The book is written chronologically as the authors describe the unravelling of their great adventure around the world to see the most species in a single year, and to beat the current record of 3,662 species set by Jim Clements. I've only got past the prologue and to the end of January 3rd, but I am utterly hooked. So far it's a great read - if only the publishers had used a slightly larger font though.

Until next time, happy birding.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tufted Duck, finally

Today I saw my first Tufted Duck; specifically two males, and two females. This species has been a bit of a nemesis for me. In Calgary, Alberta, where I began birding in 1986 and continued to do so regularly until 2001, I chased several reports of this accidental migrant with no luck in seeing it. In British Columbia, where I have resided in Victoria and birded throughout the province from 2001 to the present, I still have not been able to locate this casual winter visitor. Even with four visits to the U.K. between 1999 and 2009, I had still failed to see this elusive bird, although admittedly I was never there at the right season. Yesterday I arrived in England to celebrate Easter with my wife's family, and to squeeze in a bit of birding before heading to Spain next week. The first birding opportunity was the morning of Easter Sunday, the day after I arrived. There was a chance that I might suffer from jet lag, but with the best of intentions, I committed to going birding at 6:30am at Otmoor, an RSPB reserve located just north of Oxford. That plan however didn't quite work, as at 6:45am I was reluctant to crawl out from under the warm duvet. By 7:30am Joanna, Amelia and I were ready to go, and with hot cross buns in-hand (fully buttered), we made our way to Otmoor for a bit after 8:00am. Amelia made it very clear that she did not want to walk, and after a 10 minute showdown, she eventually won and ended up being carried along the muddy trails. There was lots of bird activity. In the fields there was Greylag Goose, Carrion Crow and Lapwing. In the shrubs and trees there was Eurasian Goldfinch, Great Tit and Chaffinch. In the sky there was Common Snipe, Eurasian Skylark and Red Kite. Other highlights included Blackcap, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Golden Plover, Common Redshank and Common Pochard. The bird of the day was Tufted Duck, followed very closely by several good looks at Reed Bunting, and a pair of Red-legged Partridge that walked across the road. In the 1.75 hours of birding we were able to afford, we tallied 37 species. Until next time, happy birding wherever you may be.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Hello, and welcome to my new blog. It will take quite some time to get this thing up and running properly, but the intent is to provide readers with various musings of my experiences with wild birds, and to provide a glimpse into some of my birding adventures.

My life with birds began as a teenager, although my parent's insist that despite my apparent short-term, selective memory, I have had a general interest in wildlife since early childhood. Now, four decades into my life, birds are rooted deeply in my profession as a wildlife biologist.

Birding, and its process and purpose, has been multi-directional for me. At age 16 I had a general interest in learning more about local birds in my home city of Calgary, Alberta. By age 18 I was fully obsessed, and embraced the hobby, sport or obsession, whatever you want to call it, as much as I could. When I wasn't working, I was birding, and when I wasn't working or birding, I was either studying field guides, dialing in to rare bird alerts, or sleeping. I spent several years "chasing" birds, notably those reported to bird hot lines. Along the way I reported several of my own "rare" birds.

My story as a Birder and Biologist appears to be an interesting one. Or at least that's what family members, and a few friends with raised eyebrows, keep telling me. My reasons for writing this blog are two-fold: 1) simply to document my experiences before I become too old to remember, and; 2) to share my stories with like-minded people who may take the occasional pleasure in reading a post, and possibly sharing their comments.

As I stated at the beginning, welcome! Hope you enjoy watching this blog grow. In the meantime, happy birding wherever you may be.