George Sirk – “The Raw, the Bleak and the Wonderful…the Vibrant Arctic”

George Sirk – “The Raw, the Bleak and the Wonderful…the Vibrant Arctic”
by Andrew Bryant, 15 Mar 2018.

Life-long naturalist, tropical specialist, guide, politicianbroadcaster and raconteur, George Sirk is one of those rare individuals who’s just really hard to classify.

Getting his start as a BC Parks Branch naturalist on Mitlenatch Island, George’s career has taken him from Papua New Guinea to Costa Rica, and from Baja California to the subject of this talk – his travels through the fantastic Canadian High Arctic (with a quick stop or two in Greenland…George isn’t one to sit still).

Interspersing wonderful images with his delightful sketches, George literally took us along with him as he variously marvelled, gawked, meditated, ate and experienced that part of the world that few will ever get to see.

I rather suspect that none of us would see it quite the same way he does!

Five Stars.

Heather Harbord – “Epic Antarctica”

Heather Harbord – “Epic Antarctica”
by Andrew Bryant, 22 Feb 2018.

A scheduled speaker’s non-appearance threatened doom – until quick-witted Heather Harbord decided to take us all out instead – to Antarctica!

So.  After a short pause, all went swimmingly well.  Penguins, orcas,  ice.  More penguins, more ice, and then, alas…
the dreaded technical glitch…

So we only got to see a portion of her slides.  Heather, of course is a trooper who’s experienced such things before, so she gamely carried on, regaling us with her alternatively funny, poignant, and just just amazing tales.
A quarter of a million pairs of penguins – seriously?


Neil Hughes – “Spring migration on the Isle of Lesvos”

Neil Hughes – “Spring migration on the Isle of Lesvos”
by Andrew Bryant, 21 Apr 2015. 

Neil is a Powell River-based forester during regular business hours, and a keen birder and globe-trotter at all other times.  In 2010 he travelled to the Greek island of Lesvos (or Lesbos) to experience spring migration there.

And what an experience it was!  After the difficulty of getting there (a volcanic eruption had grounded air travel around the globe), Neil was treated to a magical mixture of quiet off-season resort restaurants, pastoral  landscapes, and olive groves.  And, of course, birds!

Lesvos is Greek in name, but Asian-minor in terms of biogeography.  Situated closer to Turkey than mainland Greece, the island is also the epicentre of several major bird migration flyways.   Thus it is similar to Canada’s Point Pelee, but it also unusual in that the avifauna of Europe and Asia meet here, so it presents a rare opportunity for European birders to see many Asian species that rarely show up further west.

For anyone interested in learning more about birding on the Isle of Lesvos, there’s a really nice website with annual reports, bird checklists and more located here.

Finally, Neil only touched on some of the conservation issues facing migratory birds in Greece, particularly regarding the illegal trapping of birds with mist nets or limesticks.   You can learn more about the severity of the issue from the Hellenic Ornithological Society or BirdLife Cyprus.

Michael Stewart – “Gallivanting in the Galapagos”

Michael Stewart – “Gallivanting in the Galapagos”
by Sherri Wretham, 24 November 2011. 

Michael presented a lovely slide show of her seven day tour of some of the archipelago’s inhabited islands and surrounding waters.  The emphasis, of course, was on the fauna and flora.  We all wanted to go!