Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Punk Rock Big Year hits the road and skies.

So as our fall migration starts to slow down and it gets less and less comfortable to drive the Duster (it has no heater), what's a punk birder to do? Follow the birds I guess.

I have been feverishly planning a couple of really exciting things lately for PRBY. Well, exciting for me anyway. A little less so for my wife and kids. Many of you might remember that me doing this documentary was actually inspired by a few paragraphs in Kenn Kaufman's Kingbird Highway. If you haven't read that book, get to it. It's the story of a dude that drops out of high school to try and break a Big Year record. Even crazier is that he did it spending only $1000 and with no car. He hitched about 50, 000 miles around North America. You birders may already know this story very well. You non-birders should read it. It's a very cool story about a kid finding himself within his passion for birds. Well, now Kenn is one of our most prominent birders and bird conservationists and author of not only Kingbird Highway but other books as well as having his own line of great nature field guides; the Kaufman Field Guide series. Not bad for a dude that dropped outa' high school. I never dropped out but I was certainly vacant most of the time in high school, spending all my time painting, drawing, birding and getting into a fair amount of extra activities that my parents would most certainly have frowned upon. And here I am working for one of the world's most prominent creative advertising agencies. The moral here is school sucks but education is extremely important. Ok, school doesn't always suck but I hated it. Anyone under the age of 18 reading this? Stay in school, take charge, make it what you need it to be. Neither Kenn, nor myself would encourage anyone to do things exactly the way we did.

When I started this thing, Rachel said, "Well, you have to go birding with Kenn on camera." She may rue the day she said that now because that's exactly what's happening. I'm lucky enough to be able to attend the Ohio Young Birders Conference. I wouldn't exactly call myself a young person but I tend to be on the younger side of birding. These are actual young people and they care about birds! Something I never experienced when I was their age. I was pretty much alone in that back then. Oh, and did I forget to mention, I'll get a chance to go birding with Kenn and Kim Kaufman! If you are into sports, it's sort of like playing a game of pick-up hockey with Wayne Gretzky. And if you're in a band, it'd be like being on stage with Neil Young or Tom Waits.

As if that's not amazing enough, I'm also in line to go to Nicaragua birding for a few days. This isn't just any birding trip. This is to go birding on coffee estates. The main place we will visit is Gaia Estate. It grows Smithsonian certified Bird-friendly coffee. We will also find a full-sun estate to visit. What I want to show is just how much damage we are doing to habitat when we clear-cut a forest and change it into a full-sun coffee farm. You can read all about bird friendly coffee at an earlier post I did about Birds and Beans coffee companies. If you want to do ONE SIMPLE THING that will dramatically help birds, it's drink ONLY Birds and Beans coffee. Not just at home, ask your favorite coffee shop if they will get it for you. Since I found out about Birds and Beans, I've probably only drank about twenty or thirty cups of coffee where I wasn't sure the origin. Hell, I actually carry around my own coffee, press and kettle (when needed) for when I'm on the road. And shade grown isn't enough. Some farms have shade grown certification with only two or three trees on the estate. That's hardly a good wildlife habitat. Sorry about this always turning into a rant, I'm just really passionate about this subject.

So, big things on the horizon for me and Punk Rock Big Year. Wish me luck and I would like to take this time to thank a few people for my good fortune. Firstly, my wife for being so understanding and supportive all year, putting me first all the time. I love you Rachel. Secondly, Kenn and Kim Kaufman for taking time out of their insanely busy schedules to spend time with me, a heavily tattooed aging punk that just randomly fired them an email this spring. Thirdly, David and Madeleine and Bill from Birds and Beans for helping me get further in touch with Kenn and Kim. Also, all the people supporting me by way of donating time and mad skills with shooting, editing, onlining, sound design and transferring (some of these things won't happen until next year but they are greatly appreciated).

Oh yeah, I also went birding last Sunday morning and found some LBDOs.

Long-billed Dowitcher by almiyi.

October 23, 2011 day list
Long-billed Dowitcher

Punk Rock Big Year
Paul Riss

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