Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Auspicious Occasion


Rex Rowan at Power's Park Overlooking Newnan's Lake, 2002?

When I moved to Gainesville, Florida in August 1992, I considered myself a birder. And I was a birder, by most standard definitions of the word, but I was a rank amateur compared to the folks that comprised the birding community in Gainesville. For most of my first two years in Gainesville I birded alone, though occasionally I went on one of the many field trips sponsored by Alachua Audubon. My birding was somewhat limited due to the fact that I did not have a car, electing to make my daily commutes to the UF campus via bicycle. I did my first Gainesville Christmas Bird Count in December 1994. It was there that I first met Rex Rowan. Rex's name was familiar to me from the visitor's sighting log kept at the LaChua Trail trailhead, and I knew he was a birder of some standing in the local community. Rex introduced himself, and casually said that we should go birding sometime. I agreed, but was too embarrassed to say that I didn't have a car, and I certainly didn't want to impose on Rex or anyone else to have to provide transportation for me. As a result, it was another 8 months before I encountered Rex again. In August of 1995 a few fellow entomology students and I engaged Rex's services to walk La Chua trail with us to show us the flocks of Mississippi kites which congregate there prior to migration. That was officially the start of my tenure as a member of the Gainesville birding community. Within weeks of that hike, I met Mike Manetz, and Rex and Mike spent the next four years hauling me around north Florida looking at birds. More importantly they became valued friends. Even though I haven't lived there in over 10 years, I still consider myself a member of the Gainesville birding community. And aside from birding, I have Rex to blame for introducing me to the Harry Potter books, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the TV world of Joss Whedon.

All of this is just background for saying HAPPY 52nd BIRTHDAY to Rex. Hope you have a great day!

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