Thursday, January 25, 2007

Space Coast festival

After my flight landed in Orlando at 4 p.m. and I got my hands on a rental car, I zipped east toward Titusville. Time was of the essence, and luckily only one toll booth slowed my progress on 528. I arrived at Brevard Community College with enough time to pick up a registration packet and say "hello!" to a few colleagues in the exhibit hall before walking to the auditorium, which was my ultimate destination.

Bill Thompson III gave an entertaining and hilarious keynote speech tonight, melding the perils and pitfalls of birding with the admonition that "whatever you do, don't become a birdwatcher." BT3 shared trade secrets about birding as well as tidbits about his "sad little life," as he jokingly put it.

Among his many notable quotables:
* Many folks say that all you need to become a birdwatcher is a binocular and a field guide. That's wrong. You need tons of items, including multiple feeders of various types because "birds are picky, the little jerks."

* While modeling a binocular harness and extolling its virtues over those of a neck strap, BT3 referred to the harness as a "man-sierre" and pointed out that it lifts and separates.

* Birdwatchers also need to keep their optics clean, and optics reps in the exhibit hall might share cleaning supplies "if you blush becomingly." BT3 displayed a cleaning cloth and said, "These are pieces of Jeff Bouton's Scooby Doo pajamas. He's sleeping without them so we can use clean binoculars."

* BT3 suggested using all the senses while birdwatching, including taste, and said, "I've I.D.ed a bird by taste." He related an incident involving a pastry that dripped icing onto his field coat, a singing-male survey on a mountain, a colleague's observation of the pastry icing, and BT3's decision to swipe his finger in the icing, put it in his mouth and proclaim: Red-eyed Vireo. (I obviously can't do this proper justice. It's one of those had-to-be-there moments.)

If you have a chance to attend a presentation by BT3, then do it. Trust me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'll watch the birds, the tasting sounds like it could lead to some diarrhea or vomiting. sounds like a cool conference... its so fun to be among kindred spirits in anything... i have a pelican post up that you'd probably enjoy.

January 27, 2007 10:10 AM  
Blogger Susan Gets Native said...

Bill has one of the best senses of humor I have ever heard.
We were sitting down to dinner, and Julie was talking about how her parents always made sure that she had crayons, etc, so she could draw at any time, and Bill, without missing a beat, said:
"My parents did the same thing, but I could reach them through the bars of my cage."

January 27, 2007 9:36 PM  
Blogger Susan Gets Native said...

Sorry...that should say "Couldn't"

January 28, 2007 7:21 PM  
Blogger Patrick B. said...

Hahaha, that BT3 is one funny dude. I hope to hear him speak sometime soon.

January 31, 2007 1:14 PM  

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