Don Jones

Positions and Achievements

Fellow of the DVOC

Life Member

My interest in birds began in the 1950s when I was a Boy Scout. One of the requirements for the bird study merit badge was to be able to identify forty species of birds. This seemed like an enormous number to me. I wasn't even sure there were that many kinds of birds in the world let alone around the tiny town of Pemberton, NJ where I lived. A neighbor, Charles Applegate, who was an avid birder (bird watcher at that time since it was then more of a "closet" hobby) took me on two field trips-one to Brigantine and one locally. Charles had earlier suffered a heart attack and now birded only from his 1957 Ford convertible. I was impressed by the number of species he could identify by song (although to be truthful he could have told me anything and I wouldn't have known the difference).
Living in Oregon for 15 months in 1968-69 gave me a chance to see many western birds. Upon my return to New Jersey in late 1969, I inquired of Will Middleton (secretary of the DVOC at that time) about joining the Club. In the end I decided against joining since I had a young family that I felt demanded more of my time and attention than the birds (in hindsight this was a poor decision since there was so much knowledge I could have learned so much earlier in life and I could have adequately balanced the time for family and birds). Nonetheless I participated in the Gloucester County CBC for years while Will was the compiler and remained a casual birder throughout the 70s.

In 1980 I decided I would take my first group birding trip. A fellow employee at Rohm & Haas had a friend, Rick Mellon, who ran birding trips. Rick's President's day trip to New England was full (I went with Hart Rufe and a Bucks County group) but I signed up for a trip to Manitoba that spring. Will Middleton was on this trip so at least I would know one person. Meeting a very motley group at the airport for the flight to Winnipeg, I wondered, "What the &%*@ have I gotten myself into!" Proving that first impressions are often wildly wrong, I had a fantastic trip. To say that the migration at Churchill was spectacular would be a vast understatement. The ground near the granary was covered shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of Lapland Longspur and Snow Buntings. On our day at Cape Merry migrants simply streamed out the mouth of the Churchill River-Pacific Loons every three minutes hour after hour; seven Sabine's Gulls flying and riding the icebergs. Air battles between harassing jaegers and the gulls and terns punctuated the skies nearly constantly. I was hooked. I joined DVOC in 1982.

Since then I have birded every continent except Antarctica although I must admit my favorite destination (so far) is the Neotropics. I have become very interested in bird sounds nurtured by trips in the eighties to Colorado and Costa Rica in the company of Ed Manners. I began my own recording in 1990 following in the huge footsteps of other DVOC recordists George Reynard and Ed. Some of my (along with a few of Ed's) recordings are posted on our website.
In the coming years one of my goals is to digitize many of Ed Manners' recordings so they can permanently reside in the DVOC archives for all to enjoy.

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