Fred Clement

Member since: February 04, 2020

Positions and Achievements

By way of introduction, let me tell you a couple of stories.

I was a teen in summer camp when the head of the camp happened to be escorting the parent of a potential camper. As they walked by me he introduced us. That done they resumed their tour and I hear the head say, “You know, bird watching is such an old lady’s pastime. But this kid is amazing. He knows what bird it is just from listening to it or watching it fly, what it looks like, what it eats, where it lives. He actually makes bird watching seem like fun.” Old lady’s pastime???? Almost seem like fun???? I smiled politely and kept my mouth shut.

When my kids were small we bought a pair of canaries. And we let them fly free in our sun room. One spring day I went into the sun room to check on the nest they were building. Looked pretty good. So I turned my back on the canaries to leave the room when a booming WHAM! scared the daylights out of me. I whipped my head around to look. A closed window was still vibrating. Outside an Accipiter cooperii, wings wobbling and looking like a staggering drunk, was retreating to a nearby maple on unsteady wings. From its vantage point in the maple it clearly saw its chance when I turned my back on the canaries ... but it failed to see the sun room’s window glass, smashing into it en route to a tasty yellow snack. Good thing it had a hard head.

I have been birding since before the term “birding” replaced “bird watching,” and Roger Tory Peterson was the only popular expert out there. I love the suspense of the hunt, the detective work needed for a positive ID, and the rush of a great — fast — identification. I always have a monocular as part of my EDC ... perfect for a closer look at a mid-January bluebird at Haverford College or a ring-necked duck at The Willows pond after work in the community garden in Radnor. My wife is a mushroomer. So at mushroom forays, while she is focused on the ground, I am scanning above. You just never know when a new addition to your life list is going to pop into view. You know what I mean?