Judy Stepenaskie

Member since: January 01, 2011

Positions and Achievements

Fellow of the DVOC

I have always been an outdoor person, spending a lot of time hiking, camping, canoeing. I even worked as an intern in a nature center for a year, when I was younger, but did not become a birder. It wasn’t until one of my friends started birding, and would drag me along with her, to go to Tinicum and Brigantine, that I started getting hooked.

In the paper, I saw a notice about Bucks County Audubon weekend trips. I went on a camping trip, led by Margie, then went on a trip to Chincoteague led by Hart Rufe. I went on the trip to Chincoteague because I wanted to go to the wildlife refuge. I didn’t know it was a birding trip. That was the real beginning of my birding, a number of years ago. I went on many other trips with Bucks County Audubon. Later I joined Valley Forge Audubon, and then Wyncote Audubon, whose districts I lived in, and started going on trips with both of them.

It was on a Bucks County Audubon Trip to Nova Scotia, that I met and became friends with Freda Rappaport, a DVOC member. I went on many birding trips after that, riding in the same car with Freda, Edie Parnum, and Beryl McCullough, who is no longer with us. Freda loved the DVOC and many of its members, but she used to tell us stories about the DVOC – about what it was like for the women birders before they were allowed to be members, and in the early years, after women were allowed to join. She’d also tell us stories about what the meetings were like, and the peanut gallery.

I remember going on a DVOC trip that Frank Windfelder led, and I spotted a bird before Frank. I was thrilled, and thought that now I could consider myself a birder. After hearing the stories about the DVOC meetings though, I was afraid to go to one. I did go to a meeting or two, but didn’t really know people there. In the last two years, I’ve found it’s very different, and much more welcoming. I especially applaud the DVOC’s interest in bringing in new birders.

Some birding highlights: I live in Roxborough, and have a great view of the Schuylkill River from my house. There’s a train track (Norristown Line), and about 50 yards of woods between me and the River. My yard list (at least what I consider my yard list) includes Common Loons, and Hooded Mergansers. Starting in late December, and going into February, I get almost daily looks at Common Mergs. I keep my scope set up inside, and just look. I began reporting my sightings for Phila., back when Ed Fingerhood was still here.

Living in NW Phila., I’ve come to love the Chimney Swifts. I’ve been keeping track of them throughout the summer and fall, for several years. I was very fortunate in being able to find two chimney swift roosts, and let the birding community know about them – the Jenks School in Chestnut Hill, and the Dobson School in Manayunk.

For the last 2 ½ years, I’ve been working near Independence Hall. I go birding at lunch time, and found that it’s a great migrant trap. I hope to put my sightings together and work with the Park Service to make a pamphlet about the birds of Independence National Park.