Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Audubon Travelers

Why would 40+ people brave chilly damp weather to see Josh Engel give a talk on the birds and travel of South Africa?  First off, Josh is an excellent speaker, a fantastic educator and has gorgeous pictures of the birds of that area.  So, it wasn't surprising we had a such a full house.  Our program chair, Paula Wiznerowicz has a knack for picking talented speakers.  That also had something to do with it.

However, I think there was another reason.  Audubon folks love travel.  We are a curious lot.  After all, we are citizen scientists.  Exploring, picking up rocks, identifying birds, hiking trails, staring at the starry skies, admiring nature, planting gardens and so on.  So what better way to satisfy that lust for knowledge?  We must see for ourselves what is out there, experience the planet we want to protect so much and try to sate that hunger for adventure.  We aren't satisfied with just reading a book about the bower birds building elaborate nests, for example. We want to see it for ourselves.  Birdwatchers like ourselves may never be able to go to a place like New Guinea to actually watch those fascinating birds firsthand.  Yet, we can dream about it and dream we do.

With the coming winter, some will be traveling.  My wife and I are planning a trip to Miami and from there, a ship will take us out to sea.  We aren't sure where we are going yet, but the anticipation is half the fun.  The wonder of what we will discover, learn and see is a very human component of what makes us as a species spread so far and wide across the globe and in to the vast areas of space.

That night, others at the meeting told me they were going to parts of Europe, Africa, Australia, South America...nearly all points on the globe.  Those who weren't traveling far or staying close to home were just as adventurous.  They told me of personal physical or health challenges that faced them or their loved ones.  A few told me they would be armchair travelers and told me their favorite travel shows. Still others told me about the travel brochures they were anticipating in the mail and places they hoped to go in the future.  I loved the enthusiasm in the room before and after the meeting.  PWA's members are very special people, indeed.    

We are birders, on the move with our binoculars in hand and ready to go!