The Study of Nature: Since childhood, nature has been a fascination and source of guidance. Growing up on a rough country farm in Grey County led to thousands of hours of exploration of the local hills, rivers, lakes, fields and forests of the morainic hills. The rigours of university science added context and structure to this interest. Summer employment as a park naturalist in Ontario Provincial Parks, discussions with other biology students, and discovery during university field trips opened my interest to ornithology. This grew to become a passion and a major leisure interest.
Major developments in my understanding of birds included key field trips, special research projects, full-time employment as a field biologist and much contact with many brilliant field naturalists. My first major research project involved the measurement of breeding bird populations, using the spot-mapping methodology, to measure the environmental impact of park development. This research was judged suitable to earn an Masters of Science in Wildlife Biology. My emerging interest in avian field population measurement led to several field research projects and publications. All of this quickly evolved into the largest field ornithology project in Canadian history, which became the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, published in 1987.
Birds are a lens through which an intelligent observer can view environmental quality.
Birds live in and are affected by all types of habitats. Observation of these magnificent animals leads one to a sense of awe for their adaptations, intelligence, efficiency and strength.
Below are some scenes from some of my field study and the associated parks. Click on the images for a full resolution picture.
The neotropical rainforests are spectacularly rich habitats for a wide diversity of bird species. Hacienda Tropicale in Venezuela is a private nature reserve and ecolodge dedicated to nature conservation and ecotourism. During two visits to Venezuela in 1992 and 1993, I was able to observe 70 new species.
Costa Rica is a birder's paradise - lots of species, safe for travel, many professional tour guides and a superb ecotourism service industry. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a magnificent private nature reserve with a well-deserved international reputation. However, birding in the dense cloud forest can present some challenges. Visits to Costa Rica in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1999 and 2006 enabled observation of many species.
Environmental Education Centres are often given orphaned birds to raise. This Tawny Frogmouth frequently returns to the nature centre of the Brisbane Forest Park in Australia, long after it was released successfully into the wild. Australia has a wonderful avifauna, with high degrees of endemism. During my visits to this continent in 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2006 and 2007 I was able to observe around 400 of Australia's bird species.
The Sani Pass is a main route through the Drakensburg Mountains between South Africa and Lesotho. These mountains are home to significant birds such as Lammergier and the Orange-breasted Rock-jumper. On May 11, 1999 I was fortunate in seeing at one time 11 Lammergier soaring over the mountains of Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park (formerly Royal Natal National Park) in South Africa. Another visit occurred in 2003.
Kenya and Tanzania are among the richest birding areas in the world. These countries have a rich African avifauna, but also receive migrants from Europe, Asia and southern Africa. The magnificent park and games reserve of the Masai country of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania are easy to visit and very rewarding for the birder. In 1990, 1992, and 1997 birding in Eastern Africa led to sightings of over 400 species, including many in Tsavo National Park.
Launched December 2000.
Last updated: 24 February 2009