October 2013

- by Linda Orkin

I come to the last President’s column that I will write. I have served for two years, and I find myself reflecting back on these years leading the club with a good deal of gratitude to club members and pride in what we have accomplished. 

Things started off with a bang as the Guide to Birding in the Cayuga Lake Basin was completed, printed, and delivered. We assembled a team of club volunteers to count, box, sell, and deliver copies to retailers all around the area. A book launch on the first night of Spring Field Ornithology in 2012 was attended with great excitement, and Marie Read and Kevin McGowan did a wonderful job presenting an overview of the value of this guide and what went into its making. Books were distributed for review; interviews were granted; articles appeared in local papers, and now, almost three years later, we are in our second printing and have sold close to 1,000 books. As we all know, this book was produced as an all-volunteer effort led by Bob McGuire as editor. 

We decided as a group to host the 2014 New York State Ornithological Association Annual meeting and formed a steering committee chaired by Donna Scott and me. Also, part of this committee is Colleen Richards, who has already spent much time investigating and securing hotel and banquet facilities, and Marie Read, who has approached and received a commitment from a speaker. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has agreed to allow us to hold our Friday night events at the Johnson Visitors’ Center, and we are well are on our way to a successful event. This is especially exciting as this meeting will occur during the club’s one hundred year anniversary, which we are considering a year-long event from November 2013 to October 2014. 

The club was approached by Rick Manning, who is the Executive Director of the Friends of Stewart Park, to see if we would be interested in helping to design and sponsor interpretive panels to be installed at three locations in Stewart Park. A small committee of members, most notably Dave Nutter and Jane Graves, have worked on this with Rick and Todd Edmonds over this past year; and at our September meeting, the first of these panels was presented to the club and, although not completed, was greeted with enthusiasm and many constructive suggestions. The vote was unanimous to use club funds to pay for this panel which will be installed in a dedication ceremony at the boardwalk overlooking Renwick Wildwood in May of 2014, reminding the club and the community of the important role the Cayuga Bird Club has played here in preservation and education over its hundred-year history. 

A Belted Kingfisher was snagged on fishing ling high in a tree where he died, and this tragedy was discovered and photographed by Paul Anderson, leading to much dismay and discussion on the listserv. A feeling that something must be done grew out of this and resulted in the formation of a conservation committee chaired presently by Candace Cornell. There are so many things to worry about and try to fix, but right now we’re focusing very much on positive and affirming projects such as placing nest boxes, tabling and distributing relevant literature at local events, and organizing fishing line clean ups along with installing fishing line disposal bins. 

Jane Graves stepped forward to serve as our historian and has been doing much delving and article writing to make sure that the scattered pieces of our history are gathered and kept cohesive and centralized. This is an important endeavor and will help in contemplating our past hundred years and guide us as we wonder what will come in the next hundred. 

A new project has been taken on by Jody Enck. You can read a short article about this here in the newsletter. He is very interested in finding ways to involve young people in birding and conservation and hoping to have club involvement with this. I can think of so many positive ways that the success of such of program would impact our club and lead to much energy as interested members come up with fascinating ways to engage young people and implement these ideas. We are collectively a repository of great knowledge, and the only way that can survive and be useful is if we pass it along! 

We had many wonderful speakers throughout these two years, thanks as always to Laura Stenzler, and many great speaker dinners attended by members who look forward to socializing. Fun club events included picture sharing, Renwick Wildwood clean-up, and our own book launch evening that included a beautiful cake portraying the beautiful cover of the Guide. Plus, there were great field trips led by wonderful, committed, enthusiastic leaders including a kayaking trip at Montezuma, thanks to Paul Anderson and all. Close to 100 people participated in successful Christmas Bird Counts. Paul Anderson configured a web site for us that can be accessed by everyone, and many people have permission to post there, making it a very democratic site and useful for its timeliness. Paul also formed a Facebook group which currently has 135 members, many of whom are different people than our membership list. Fall of 2012 saw the first of our email only newsletters, which was introduced with worries but has been received with great acclaim and appreciation to our editors Richard and Cyndy Tkachuck. 

As I take my leave I would like all to remember: the Cayuga Bird Club is a place, an idea and a tool. I welcome all to participate at whatever level makes them comfortable. However, I would like to emphasize, as my last word as president to all of you, that if you have ideas for things you would like to see the club doing, bring them forward. If you have ideas for newsletter articles, let Richard and Cyndy know and write them. If you ever thought you might like to be the one leading a field trip, let me know and we’ll plan it. If you have conservation or preservation issues that you care about, come to a Conservation Action Club meeting. Someone said to me after the formation of the conservation committee that now she had a reason to join the club, since it was doing something. Of course, we’ve always been “doing something,” it just wasn’t something she cared about. Isn’t it up to each of us to make sure the club is doing something we care about? Make it happen... you can.