I remember looking up into the broken sunlight of the leafy ceiling. Birds flew from one branch to another. Just shadows really. In the grasses, he pointed to a hidden deer skull. Everyone in my 2nd grade class was in awe.
|Botteri's Sparrow-lifer for Bernie|
|The darker Grasshopper Sparrow of the West|
|One of the many deer I saw this summer at the Woodland Dunes|
Eventually they cut down our secret forest and covered the creek with dirt and ugly factories. Angered adults and kids watched helplessly as the chainsaws shredded the trees to the ground. Today, those same factories that destroyed our natural playland sit empty because the work has since gone elsewhere. They had also tried to cut down the Woodland Dunes many years ago, but a few stood firm and protected this sacred area. Bernie lead the grassroot efforts to keep it free from "progress". Many locals didn't get it. land=work=$$. Oh if they could have seen their futures. Today, nothing is left of the city I once knew. The city continues to shrink and locals struggle to find work. It is a shadow of what it used to be. But the one thing that still attracts people from all over? Our beautiful coastline and forests. And I gotta say. The birding in Manitowoc County is pretty awesome.
He was still the kind person I remembered as a kid. I watched him handle the owls with ease as he taught others the proper way to band them.
After listening to his stories about banding birds, I realized that there is still so much I don't know. He even banded the trickier ones like Chimney Swifts!
|Bernie's Hermit Warbler|
He gave me his "needs" list and I smiled. While I love birding in the mountains, my favorite habitat to bird is in the grasslands. And he needed quite a few of the grassland birds! We had beautiful views of his lifer Botteri's and Cassin's Sparrows. He discovered Cassin's and Thick-billed Kingbirds. And of course, the Hermit Warbler. 5 lifebirds!
Time is precious. And although I only had a day to bird with Bernie and his son Jeff, I was so happy to do so. It's the least I could do for a man who has done so much for us. Thank you Bernie for your life long work. Thank you for keeping areas like the Woodland Dunes safe from development. I don't recognize much of my city anymore, but I do remember my childhood playgrounds because they were protected and made safe by people like you. When I enter the Dunes or Point Beach State Forest, I am neither child nor adult. I exist in a timeless space where it all comes together as one. I am surrounded by happy thoughts of my past. I am reminded of my present. And I see future generations of kids exploring these places like I did when I was a kid. Your life long work continues to inspire us and will continue for as long as people treasure these beautiful spaces. Thank you for all that you do!
|Not my photo but from the Woodland Dunes website. I remember these days in the 70's and early 80's. A sunny day with wet snow and yet still cold enough to wear gloves. Bernie educates us about the nature.|
Until next time.......