Field Notes - Forward
When Rich asked me to write a forward to the book you now hold in your hands, I was both flattered, and to be honest, a little bit baffled. After all, isn’t it only the likes of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and Bill Oddie, who get asked to write glowing intros to bird books?
At the time of the request, I had known Rich for less than a year and, apart from our shared status as ex-pat birders now residing in Canada, we seemed, on the surface, to have little else in common.
Saying that, we clearly got on well from our first meeting, (when he and Lori came to check out a palm warbler I’d found at the Nanaimo River Estuary soon after my arrival on Vancouver Island); but the truth was, I didn’t really know all that much about him.
In my first months as an immigrant to the land of maple leaves, Rich graciously asked me to join his team for my first ever Christmas Bird Count. We enjoyed a few more days out in the field, and even socialized on a couple of occasions, allowing us to get to know each other better. But still, I didn’t really consider myself qualified to write an intro to his very personal memoirs…
Of course, that all changed once I read through this engaging assemblage of memories. As it turns out, we actually have a lot more in common than I could have ever imagined. And, I now know stuff about Rich that, well, to be honest, had I known when I first met him, may have encouraged me to steer well clear.
Egg thief? Squaddie? Southerner? Not the sort of fellow that a well-adjusted chap from the north, such as I, would ordinarily count among my best mates!
However, the honesty, enthusiasm and general warmth with which Rich recounts his early forays into obsessive natural history awareness, are enough to make anyone feel like a lifelong friend.
Join Rich as he recounts his formative years as a nest-pilfering ‘ooloigist’ (and one particular escapade involving some blue polyester Y-fronts). Follow his interest in falconry, and raptor rehabilitation, and eventual arrival as a fully-fledged birder of the first order. Rich’s tales make for a genuinely affirming read.
In these pages you will read of red kite reintroductions in Scotland, egg McMuffins in British Columbia and banding forays to Russia. Add a pivotal life-changing encounter with a great-grey owl and a horrific near-death experience on Vancouver Island, and we not only get a taste of one individual’s passion and dedication to birds and birding, but also how all these things have had a unequivocal effect on his life.
Rich tells these tales with charm, and a refreshing sense of self-deprecation. The truth is, most birders, naturalists, and even stamp collectors, will recognise and share, many of the experiences detailed by Rich’s vivid recollections. And, even though our own specific routes may differ from the author’s, any bird-loving reader will find parallels that conjure up our own reminisces, and remind us why birds, and birding, mean so much to so many of us.