Thursday, August 4, 2011

Favorite Moments in Birding

Thursday, August 4, 2011
Waiting (in vain) for the Cebu flowerpecker. That's Tim Appleton third from the left.

A note from BOTB: With this post, I'm starting a new category of blog posts here on Bill of the Birds, called "Favorite Moments in Birding" most of which, like this one, will have little to do with actual birding.

A year ago in March I was part of a familiarization trip for birding tour leaders and media to the Philippines. One of our most interesting stops was on the island of Cebu where we attempted to see the Cebu flowerpecker and incredibly rare endemic bird species. [You can hear my podcast about this species and conservation efforts on its behalf at this link.]

We did not see the flowerpecker, but on our walk back to the bus, we passed a small open area where kids from the local village were playing basketball. I asked them for the ball and they let me shoot a few hoops with them. Then one of the older kids asked me if I could dunk. I could tell that this basket was somewhat lower than regulation so I gave it a shot and dunked the ball. Then I did it again, with a bit more flair.

One of the leaders of our trip was my friend Tim Appleton, MBE, co-founder and organizer of the British Birdwatching Fair, the world's largest gathering of bird people, products, and stuff on the planet. Tim is not one to let a macho challenge pass untaken. So he, too, tried to dunk. Sadly, Tim failed miserably because, as we all know, the British play soccer (they call it football) a sport which develops the legs and feet in both strength and coordination, but which leaves the upper body—especially the arms—unused and dangling, like the useless upper arm appendages on a T-Rex.

Seeing that he could not dunk himself, Tim decided to try to prevent me from dunking, leaping up in an attempt at a block. This was like an ad for Bad Idea Jeans. Here's a photo (taken by another wonderful Brit birder, David Tipling) of me posterizing Lord Tim in front of the awestruck village kids.

When we were done, one of the smaller kids approached me to ask is my name was Shaquille O'Neal. I answered "That's right, young squire, but you can call me Shaq!"


On August 4, 2011 at 2:19 PM Rondeau Ric said...

Dude, i know you aren't Shaq, your feet aren't big enough.

On August 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM cyberthrush said...

I think he had you confused with Shecky O'Neal, a totally different person than the one you're thinking of...

On August 4, 2011 at 6:48 PM rebecca said...

Your T-rex/soccer player analogy has made my day.

On August 4, 2011 at 10:24 PM Julie Zickefoose said...

Trash talking on a blog seems a tad unsporting, old chap. One only hopes that Lord Tim, he of the athletic feet and vestigal arms, will come roaring back like T-Rex himself.

On August 5, 2011 at 12:04 AM Bill of the Birds said...

His lordship may send one of his footmen to kick my arse.

On August 5, 2011 at 12:55 PM Chatterbirds said...

Was hoping for a picture of the flowerpecker but a post that includes basketball dunking in the Phillipines, references to T. Rex, and the documentation of the possible beginnings of a cargo cult that worships a disguised Shaquille O'Neill more than makes up for it!