The birding world is a small one in the US. In fact it’s almost impossible to go to an event like the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival without running into multiple people that you know both personally and from their online presence. Coolest of the random run ins over the weekend for me was when I bumped into a regular from some of the local tours that I ran in Connecticut. It was funny because we’d called over one of the official tour groups from the festival to see a couple of Altamira Orioles that we had discovered whilst on an early morning stop at Estero Llano and I recognized her voice as one of my previous participants quicker than she recognized mine. I guess to be fair there does tend to be a few British accents at these birding events.
Talking of worlds colliding a couple of months ago my dad sent me some awesome photographs from a mural that had recently been put up to cover some rather boring concrete at a local spot along the River Lee in London where I often go for a walk and look for birds. It’s perhaps not the capitals’ birdiest spot, but it’s close and accessible by bicycle. Of course my dad started my interest in birds and my brother was once a renowned street artist – before he became a photographer and music impresario. I recall my brother once getting paid to teach inner city kids how to become graffiti artists. I’m not sure who decided that was a great idea, but you never know, perhaps he helped spawn the next Banksy or Jean-Michel Basquiat
My favorite piece from the event are the Great Crested Grebes created by a Brazilian artist Mateus Bailon (website here). My girlfriend Catherine had just been in Brazil a few months before for the Brazilian Bird Fair (website here). Not only had she fallen in love with the country and its birds, but she had been really impressed by the breadth and depth of an event that included as well as birders and ornithologists, musicians and contemporary artists too amongst others. It’s hard to imagine something quite the same happening in the US or the UK at a birding festival? You can see some of the other murals from the London mural project on the Inspiring City Blog (here). Cool to see the sketches that Mateus worked from and street artists that use nature as a theme of their work. I’m looking forward to getting back to London this Christmas and seeing some of this stuff in person – weird how everything comes together sometimes.