It was because of the birds that Flo Foley and Nancy Brown moved to Seabrook Island four years ago after retiring from successful careers at Verizon.
Flo has always loved nature and fondly remembers watching the pheasants in her backyard growing up in Jamaica Plain, MA. Her grandmother, who lived next door, had a pet parakeet that Flo visited daily and she always enjoyed playing with Mikey. Her dad was a real animal lover too and had multiple feeders in the yard. Flo and her dad cherished their times watching the birds together and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when Flo was young.
Nancy also loved the outdoors and remembers watching all the birds on the seed and suet feeders, especially during the cold Maine winters where she grew up.
When Flo and Nancy met at work 24 years ago, they were both managers at Verizon, although in different areas of the company. Flo was a Tier II technical support Engineer whose team often assisted Nancy’s team with the more technical parts of the business. It might have been the fact that Nancy felt Flo could fix any trouble Nancy’s team presented to her that brought them together. However, it was their love of animals, the outdoors and travel that sealed the deal.
Zoos, aquariums and birds have always been a part of their life. Their activities have ranged from taking early morning canoe rides on the Sudbury River to watching Great Blue Herons in the quiet misty marsh, to purchasing a timeshare on Captiva Island, FL so they could visit the wading and shorebirds at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge yearly. They even hired a private birder in Ireland for the day and took a “Hawk Walk” at Ashford Castle’s Ireland School of Falconry, where they handled a Barn Owl and various types of Hawks. Much of their world travels have included birding.
It was their yearly trips to Ding Darling followed by three trips to Cape May, NJ to observe the spring and fall migrations that resulted in the purchase of high-quality binoculars and a birding scope. That is also when they began documenting their “Life List.” Flo and Nancy have volumes of bird identification books. However, now with the incredible tools available on smart phones, it is much easier to enjoy their birding hobby. Using an app called “BirdsEye,” they can locate where specific bird species are being seen, especially those they have never seen before. They use “Merlin ID” to narrow down the identification of a species and their favorite bird guide app is Sibley’s. Finally, “eBird” allows them to easily document the birds they identify through sight or sound anywhere they go. Nancy even keeps a list most days she golfs, where the birds are plentiful! (You may notice she can be quite obsessive with her smartphone if you’ve ever been on a bird walk with her!)
While living in Massachusetts, Flo and Nancy kept a 150 gallon saltwater fish tank which included soft corals, starfish, crabs and shrimp. After moving to New Jersey in 2006, they owned two Cockatiels: a White-faced Gray male named Zazu and a Pearl female named Kiki. Both birds were fond of sitting on their shoulders to watch TV at night. Zazu could even sing and talk!
Since retiring in 2012, Flo and Nancy have enjoyed all the birds in their backyard at Bohicket Marina along with those in all of the Lowcountry of SC. They have had the good fortune to take birding trips to New Mexico, South Texas and this past year a spring migration in the Midwest, all with a company called Wings. They have also birded Maine and New Brunswick Canada with a well-known Maine guide. A highlight of their life was their trip a year ago to Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. In total, they have seen 487 of the more than 950 species in the ABA area (North America north of Mexico) but only 650 of the world’s 9-10,000 birds. They plan to add to that list in a week as they’ve hired a guide to bird Barcelona. In 2018, they will be traveling and birding the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia.
Besides birding and travel, Flo and Nancy golf a couple times a week and became “Master Naturalists” through a program with the Charleston County Parks and Recreation in the spring of 2016. Flo enjoys playing the piano, building ships and her quiet time drawing and painting. Nancy is a SINHG trip leader, has enjoyed the communication role she has played for a few organizations on Seabrook and takes time for yoga. Both Flo and Nancy volunteered to help start the Seabrook Island Birders when it formed during late 2015. It has allowed them share their passion for birding and meet even more people on our beautiful island!