SIB Member Profile: Marcia & Bob Hider

My dad was an avid birder. Most would find that hard to believe since he was color blind and had lost a lot of his hearing as he aged. Actually, really knowledgeable birders use other clues in identifying birds: location, season, amount and type of activity, shape, size and more, all of which require neither a color sense nor good ears.

As a kid, I thought it was a ridiculous hobby. But one day, when he was visiting Bob and me in Reston, VA, Dad set up an old TV tray outside and filled it with birdseed. Within a couple of hours, we had seen probably 20 different species. Bob and I were hooked.

Marcia and Bob Hider

We both worked, however, I with the Federal Government and Bob with his own video production company. That, and raising two kids, left us with little time to pursue birding with much gusto. When the kids left, we got more involved, often traveling to areas of the country where birds were known to frequent.

Then we found Seabrook. There was so much to do here that it was hard to choose. Initially, and for the first seven years or so, I was very involved with SINHG, as treasurer and membership chair and then with reorganizing and expanding its trip offerings. Following that, I was co-editor of the Seabrooker for several years. Also, during this period, I was involved with several other regular and special committees…and on and on.

Bob was into tennis. He and his teammates won several local and regional tournaments. For three years, he ran the Fleming Tournament where he introduced the idea of raising money for a charity. The first year I think his committee donated $5,200 to Hospice of Charleston which at that time was a non-profit organization. (This year, they raised over $40,000 for Respite Care!) And all this time, he had his photography, a hobby he pursued even as a child.

Then we both rested.

In 2015, Charley Moore suggested that he and I should start a birding club. After all, how could you not get interested in birds when there is such a wonderful variety of habitats on this little island? I wasn’t sure I wanted to. Neither Bob nor I is what I would call an avid birder. I don’t even maintain a life list which almost every real birder keeps. I have trouble seeing the birds so I resort to identifying them by ear and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know that our cardinals have 53 different songs? I’m glad I helped, however, because I’ve learned a lot and met some wonderful people in the process.

Submitted by:  Marcia Hider

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SIB Member Profile: Nancy Brown & Flo Foley

Nancy and Flo taking a break from birding in Botswana, September 2016

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!)

Zazu (White-faced Gray Cockatiel) and Kiki (Pearl Cockatiel)

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!

SIB Member Profile: Charley Moore

Charley Moore

Yes, I am a certified tree-hugger. I have always considered myself an environmentalist, naturalist, and biologist. Growing up in the 1950’s on a small Kentucky farm that included at one time or another nearly every animal that has ever been domesticated, I obtained an early appreciation for animals and the value and satisfaction of growing one’s own food. Fishing and hunting small game was a way of life and much of my time was spent in the woods. Being dyslectic, reading was always a chore and most learning in school was through osmosis. Needless to say, until college I was never a very good student.

The Berlin wall resulted in my spending a couple years in the Army. I then attended Eastern Kentucky University majoring in Chemistry and Biology. Seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time during spring break my Junior year, resulted in wanting to become a marine biologist. Following graduate school at the University of Delaware the next 9 years were spent studying Chesapeake Bay fish populations in the vicinity of coal fired and nuclear electric power plants for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Moving my family (wife, Marty and two children, Wendy and Joe) to Charleston in 1977, I began my career with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as a fisheries manager. Over the next 28 years I worked to establish many of South Carolina’s current state laws dealing with marine fisheries, including establishing a saltwater fishing license. I was the Stewardship Coordinator for the ACE Basin and the National Stewardship Representative for the Estuarine Research Reserve System with reserves in all 22 coastal states.

Having worked in South Carolina’s coastal area for nearly 30 years, there was only one place I planned to retire – Seabrook Island. In preparation for retirement, in 2004 we sold our cut-your-own Christmas Tree farm which we had operated for the past 18 years on Young’s Island and moved to Seabrook Island. I retired form DNR in 2005.

The past thirteen years have been Marty’s and my best years – Seabrook Island is our idea of heaven. Where else is nature such an integral part of a neighborhood. Simply walking out your front door or taking a short walk on the beach provides a vast array of birds and other wildlife that call Seabrook Island home.

Seabrook Island’s wide variety of birds and wildlife has resulted in revitalizing my interest in photography. I have been active on the Environmental Committee for the past ten years, chaired the Deer Management Task Force, written “Wild Things” articles for the Seabrooker, grown my own vegetables, chaired the community vegetable gardens and currently serve on the Board of the Green Space Conservancy.

In October 2015, Marcia Hider and I placed a notice in the lobby of the Lake House for residents to indicated if they would be interested in forming a birding group and if they would be willing to help organize it. In two weeks seventy residents had replied positively and seven agreed to help organize such a group. Two-months later the first Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) membership meeting was held with 130 residents attending. Today, SIB with the moto “Watching, Learning and Protecting,” has over 230 members and continues to grow. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving as the Board Chairman during this period.

Submitted by:  Charles Moore

SIB Member Profile – Aija & Ed Konrad

Ed & Aija Konrad at Magee Marsh

We all find our path to birding in different ways…ours was through deer! Yes, deer! Ed and I were avid gardeners in Atlanta. On our 1-acre yard, we had extensive perennial gardens and were featured on Atlanta area garden tours.  And then, when they cleared some land on a little mountain behind our neighborhood, deer came to our garden and that was the end of that! Shortly thereafter, a friend asked me to come on an Audubon walk and the rest is history.  After talking to the walk leader about binoculars, I went from the walk to Wild Birds Unlimited, bought my first pair of real birding binoculars (Eagle Optics Ranger, 8X42, approx. $325) and never looked back. And soon after that, Ed began to tag along with me with his point and shoot camera. Soon he was hooked on bird photography, and graduated to bigger cameras and lenses. 10 years ago, we bought our villa at Seabrook and began our quest of shorebirds and seabirds. 

Continue reading “SIB Member Profile – Aija & Ed Konrad”

SIB Member Profile – Carl & Dori Helms

Dori & Carl Helms at their home at Creek Watch on Seabrook Island, SC

Carl and Dori Helms are both natives of Pennsylvania, but their footprints are everywhere.  Carl’s birding experience started as a teenager in Boy Scouts and summer camps.  His degrees from Colorado and Harvard are in Zoology and Biology and much of his academic research was in ornithology. Carl is a professional birder. He knows birds from neb (beak) to tail and amazed me with his ear for bird calls when we first started birding together numerous years ago. He has banded birds in New England, Pennsylvania and Georgia as well as having observed and photographed them on several continents. His professorial career includes professor positions at Bucknell, University of Georgia and Clemson.  He retired in 1998.

Dori’s interest in bird’s was fostered by a father who was determined that his daughter would be knowledgeable about nature and the wildlife around her.  Her academic studies began at Bucknell and, after graduating, she taught high school biology. She earned her subsequent doctorate in Zoology at the University of Georgia. Her teaching career at Clemson included becoming Chair of the Biology Program, followed by being designated as Associate Dean of the College of Sciences. In 2001 she was appointed Provost, a position from which she retired in 2013.  Dori and Carl were married in 1970, have two children and one grandchild.

Their Seabrook Island experience began in 1994 with the purchase of a Creek Watch Villa.  The view across Cap’n Sams Creek, with an expansive marsh, the crab dock, and out to the ocean beyond, was perfect for these birders. Carl has a long association with elements of the Island’s Environmental Committee and initiated the Birds of Seabrook portion of the SIPOA website. When carrying his scope for his walks on North Beach became burdensome, Carl reconfigured a simple golf pull cart, with a tube of PVC pipe in which to slide the scope and tripod.  Since moving from Lake Hartwell and becoming local residents (Creek Watch and Bishop Gadsden), both Carl and Dori have become members of the Seabrook Island Birders. Dori currently serves as Program Chair. Carl’s physical condition now restricts his opportunity to bird in the field to using a scooter or golf cart, but this has not affected his enthusiasm for watching birds from his deck or helping others to better enjoy our feathered friends. Dori’s retirement includes being on several Boards, including the Board of Trustees at South Carolina State University.

Submitted by George Haskins

SIB Member Profile – Judy & Dean Morr

Judy and Dean are checking the Eastern Bluebird house in their front yard. The box is open and showing a nest of woven pine straw which s awaiting eggs.

Judy and Dean Morr moved to Columbia, South Carolina, from their native Ohio (they met at The Ohio State), in 1984 seeking winter warmth. He was as an architect and she was involved with computer software. When they could get away, they’d sneak off to Kiawah for beach time. However, when it came time to contemplate retirement, they opted for a home on Seabrook which they bought before retiring. She became a tele-commuter here and he spent Monday-Friday commuting to Columbia for a year or so. They were not birders though he had long been  into woodworking. His specialty was birdhouses and feeder for others.  

The former Lakes and Wildlife Subcommittee of Environmental maintained a few houses for Eastern Bluebirds around the Lake House with Jackie Mowat as the caretaker. There was also a group, led by Joan Hylander, who informally tended numerous bird houses on Crooked Oaks. Both Joan and Jackie were looking to ‘retire’ about the time the Morr’s moved to the Island. In some manner, Judy learned there was this job opening. She was looking for something interesting to occupy Dean’s future retirement time. She volunteered to be the new caretaker, but only until Dean was on-Island a year or so hence. L&W gladly accepted her offer.  

Dean is still in project management, but as coordinator for maintaining and monitoring more than 75 Eastern Bluebird boxes, on three golf course trails plus one at the Lake House. He built and, accompanied by David Gardner, installed 12 additional bluebird houses last month for a new trail at Camp St Christopher. He builds new boxes as needed, repairs damaged boxes, oversees a troop of monitors who visit the boxes weekly gathering nesting information, and keeps the records. The details are on the SIB website, but, in the 2016 nesting season, 359 fledgling Eastern Bluebirds and 106 Carolina Chickadees emerged from those boxes. Dean has also blended his program into the fledgling (pun intended) Seabrook Island Birders organization and is becoming an accomplished photographer of our many feathered friends. He has also become a member of the SIPOA Environmental Committee and recently completed an inventory report for properties purchased by Seabrook Island Green Space Conservancy.

Judy has recently retired from the tele-commuting duties. The interesting thing is that the bird watching bug bit Judy as well. She and Dean were part of the nine person group which started organizing Seabrook Island Birders 18 months ago. She now serves as the chair of the SIB Activities Committee. Judy’s skills as a bird watcher haves progressed amazingly — I was the leader of her first bird walk in January 2016 around Palmetto Lake. In addition, she is very active with the Islands’ Turtle Patrol and can, I understand, often be found at the end of Boardwalk 8 watching one of Seabrook’s fantastic sunsets.

By the way, the two of them have a private bluebird trail, I’m told, as well as one active nest (see picture) in their front yard. Further, their backyard is a haven for birds (including Wild Turkeys and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds). These two relative newcomers are major contributors to maintaining a good environment for the Island’s wildlife.

Submitted by George Haskins

SIB Member Profile – George Haskins

George Haskins birding on a Lindblad/National Geographic Expedition trip
in California Baja in 2010.

I’ve been interested in birding ever since my Grandmother gave me a Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide when I was six years old.  Soon after that we moved to a home adjacent to an Audubon Sanctuary in Brockton, MA. My sister and I became Junior Auduboners.  I do maintain annual lists of birds seen and compare on this with my sister each year.  I won last year with 104 birds and limited New York birding.  This year I’ve already seen 87 species. My life list is over 300. Picking a favorite bird would be difficult, but the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is special because, on two occasions, I have rescued one into my cupped hand and, then, had him look me in the eye, as if to say thanks, before flying.   

I had 43 years in two overlapping careers, first as a saving and loan officer and, secondly, as a residential real estate appraiser.

In retirement, I have been a non-resident on Seabrook for 17 years and am fortunate to be part of founding Seabrook Island Birders.  I’ve also been on the High Hammock Board of Directors and the Environmental Committee (Lakes and Wildlife Sub-Committee, Deer management Task Force and Common Property Task Force).

Our summers are spent in suburban Rochester, NY and, for numerous years, I have been a member of the Rochester Birding Association. Their monthly publication is “Little Gull.”  In the current issue, a member, John Boettcher, posted a piece entitled ‘Why Birdwatching?’  First time I’ve ever thought of this topic and I agree with the items.  I got his permission to share it with our SIB members.  I have no feel for whether he had a listing priority, but I do think I’d have had a different order, were I the originator.

Why Birdwatching?
by John Boettcher   

  1. Social — Meet new people and renew acquaintances.
  2. Competition — How many birds can you see?  How many species?  Be the first to find new ones.  Post on a list and on eBird.
  3. Hunt — Finding birds in the habitat, getting a good look, and identifying.
  4. Skill Building — Becoming proficient with optics.  Keying on birds using songs and calls.
  5. Gentle Physical Activity — Reason for a walk.  
  6. Enjoying Nature — Exposure to bird habitat — other animals, trees, and flowers.
  7. Mark Seasons — Notice the different birds with different seasons and changes.
  8. Travel to New Places — Nearby and far away.
  9. Build Identification Skills — Home study and practice in the field to build proficiency.
  10. Natural History of Birds — Study and sharing of bird behavior and physiology.
  11. Get a Better View of Birds —   No matter how many times you’ve seen a bird there awaits a better view.
  12. Better Citizen — Appreciation and understanding of nature and need to preserve.
  13. Teaching Opportunity — Pass along your understanding and enthusiasm to others — young and old.

Submitted by George Haskins