Thursday, July 24, 2014

Birthday Tribute to Julie

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Happy birthday to Julie!

Who is, among other things...
A wonderful, loving Mom
A mother to thousands of baby birds
A science chimp
An amazing artist
 An enthralling writer
A writer of irresistible songs
And fantastic singer of same
A talented pennywhistler
A gardener with green thumbs (and hands, and feet)
A healer of broken plants and animals
A sought-after nature guide
A world-class speaker/presenter
A runner of country roads
A crazy dog lady (Boston terriers only)
a wanderer in the woods.
and a beautiful, loving (and fun-loving) partner.

With love,

 Here's a beso from our evening primrose.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy 18th Birthday to My Favorite Bird

Friday, July 11, 2014
 To my darling daughter on the occasion of her 18th birthday.

You are a miracle to me, little bird. 
You were wise from your first day...

 So alive and deeply aware, for one so young, of the things that make this life wonderful.
Like grandpas who say funny things and then smirk.

 And the perfect arc of a tire swing on a summer evening.

Or the smooth feel of a baby rhino's horn.

You have proven, since your youngest days, that you can be from the country and still have swag.

You are willing to indulge your little brother, who is your shadow, in his Halloween schemes, his wacky dreams, and encourage him to follow in your footsteps.

 Your running footsteps and all the others, too.

Not everyone can go from goofy...

To glamorous as effortlessly as you, Phoebe...

Even the animals of the forest (and kitchen) sense your special nature...

I'd like to take credit for your love of baseball, but that, too, you came to all on your own.
 I am just your happy baseball buddy.

 Your mama has made you into quite the Science Chimp and Nature Girl.


And it's a good thing, because you seem to have met another of your kind....

I was there when you were born.
I have been blessed to see you growing.

 I have seen you pass milestones, one after another.

And now you launch into a new world.
My sweet little bird, it's time for you to fly away.
 But please, oh please, return
for we cannot imagine our world
without you,
darling, beautiful Phoebe.
 Happy 18th birthday to Phoebe Linnea Thompson!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Podcast Episode: "Voices of Argentina!"

Thursday, June 12, 2014
Magellanic woodpecker, female.
I've just finished episode #46 of my "This Birding Life" podcast, entitled "Voices of Argentina." In this episode I interview a variety of interesting folks whom I encountered during a recent birding trip to Argentina. We talk about birds (of course), culture, food, music, the landscape, and many other things.
Scanning the Iberá Wetlands.

Music and birds are the two largest rivers running through my life so I'm really happy to be able to include some Argentine music in this episode. The style of music is called Chamamé and it's a meeting or blending of the folk music of Europe (German accordion and Spanish guitar) and the Guaraní people of Argentina. We were entertained one evening by a duo playing Chamamé  and singing while some local dancers showed us the typical moves associated with each song. And all this was occurring while we were being fed a traditional Argentine asada meal of grilled meats and vegetables. Plus the famed Argentine wine. A memorable night indeed.
Duo playing Chamamé.

After they'd played two sets of music the band even let me play a bit during their break. Another thrill and yet another country where I've had the good fortune to bond with fellow musicians. After the show we exchanged CDs and hearty handshakes.

As you'll hear in the podcast, we birded in just two regions of Argentina (which is a huge country): the northeast around the large Iberá Wetlands Preserve and in the central southwest in the Andean foothills of Patagonia. The birding was incredible in both regions. Special avian treats included Andean condor, many-colored rush-tyrant, Magellanic woodpecker, greater rhea, and horned screamer. We saw a total of about 230 species during our 10-day trip, though, as our wonderful guides noted repeatedly, we were not there at the height of the birding season.
Greater rheas.
Andean condors.

If you are interested in learning more about birding in Argentina, please visit the travel page we've set up on the Bird Watcher's Digest website: This page has links to Argentina's main tourism websites as well as links to the paces we visited, including lodging.
Drinking maté with Starsky, Dominic, and Tim.

My special thanks go out to Tim Appleton of the British Birdwatching Fair who invited me on the trip. And to Pablo Cagnoni from Inprotur, the organizer of the trip in Argentina, as well as to our wonderful guides, hosts, drivers, and planners.
Birding on a large estáncia in Patagonia with our lead guides Scarlett (dark hat) and Eugenia (second from left).

My fellow travelers on the Argentina adventure were Niklas Aronsson of Vår Fågelvärld (Our Birding World magazine in Sweden), Dominic Couzens (a popular and prolific nature writer in the UK), Matthew Merritt (editor of Bird Watching magazine (the original) in the UK). Click on their names to find out more about them.
From left: BOTB, Niklas, Tim, Dominic, and Matt.
Thanks for reading and listening!