I guess I started birdwatching at a young age, watching a Ring-necked Pheasant that huddled by a basement window to keep warm on cold winter days. It was probably a beautiful Magnolia Warbler, bathing in a driveway puddle, that hooked me on birds. When I joined the local birding group, I discovered that my road was one off the local birding hotspots due to the variety of habitats.
To find some wide-open spaces after high-school, I headed to Northern Ontario. Some professors and the Sault Naturalists were pivotal for really getting me into birds, especially during a stellar trip to Point Pelee Provincial Park at the very southern tip of Ontario. I continued to British Columbia for university, and after bouncing around through jobs and travel across Canada, Europe and South America, I found my way back to BC.
I’ve worked on a lot of different projects over the years spanning the taxonomic gradient, but since 2007 I’ve been strictly “birds.” When I finally settled down in Vancouver, I started working for Canada’s leading bird conservation organisation, Bird Studies Canada. With a talented team, I co-edited and co-authored The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia. You can think of it as “The State of BC’s Birds” and it will serve as a bench mark for future studies. Luckily, I’ve been to every corner of the province. I’ve had the chance to do nearly 24-hour birding in north-western, BC. Once at midnight when it started to get “darkish,” some ptarmigan started clucking. As I was lying there I thought, “this is cool – or perhaps kind of scary – they sound like gremlins.” It’s been great to see all the birds and landscapes around the province, and it’s been wonderful to meet and work with so many great people across the province. I meet each year with hundreds of volunteer citizen scientists, regular birders who put their enthusiasm and knowledge into conservation action, such as The Atlas.
When I received my Vortex gear I was thrilled and thought back to the gear I had when I was younger; it’s amazing I saw anything at all. The maiden voyage for my Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope was sailing, guiding and surveying around Gwaii Haanas National Park on Haida Gwaii, BC. You may think that sailing and scoping don’t work well together, but matched with the Vortex Tripod it’s smooth enough to keep your eye on the bird (or whale) of interest. My Vortex gear has seen more remote places in BC through my field studies as the BC Breeding Bird Atlas Project Coordinator than most birders can ever dream of.
I also get out internationally, to places such as Belize, Borneo, Ecuador and Europe, as well as local birding. On my trips to Ecuador, we get spectacular views of birds and animals from the Amazon basin, high Andean mountains, cloud forests, and of course, the famous Galapagos! Though the animals are so tame in the Galapagos and have no fear of humans, so sometimes they’re too close to use my Vortex Razor HD binoculars, let alone a birding scope! Nothing gets people more pumped than seeing a cool mountain toucan, a tiny Pygmy Marmoset (world’s smallest monkey!), or a rare, cryptic bird, than when you can give them a clear, close-up view in a spotting scope!
I've spent a lot of time in the dark coastal forest of BC, studying the very endangered Spotted Owl. Even night time is a good time to have your binoculars with you in case you need a close up view of these rare owls sitting on a branch above your head.
I still continue working with local birding groups, consultants, tour companies, and NGOs in Canada and abroad studying and observing birds and wildlife. More recently, I have started to work with organizers of the International Ornithological Congress coming to Vancouver in August 2018. This will bring thousands of bird enthusiasts from around the world and Canada to first ever Vancouver International Bird Festival! Scientists and the public will be engaged, educated and entertained through exhibitions, a bird fair, trade show, tours and workshops on birds.
Squamish, British Columbia
- International Ornithological Congress - Vancouver 2018
- Toucan Ridge Ecological and Education Society
- Ecorana Environmental
- Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia
- South America Tours
- Coastal Tours
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