By Elizabeth Platt
On Saturday, November 18, Apalachee Audubon member Madhu Nepal and I took the Hewitt children (of AAS banquet fame) and their mother to the SMNWR for a birding expedition. Their behavior at the refuge reflected skills and attitudes modeled by AAS birders Judy, Peter, Rob and Dee. My most memorable moment of the morning was when, having spied the vermillion flycatcher on the pier at East River Pool, they tiptoed slowly, silently out to see him, five abreast. Joyously, they continued to follow his movements – from pier to reeds and back again.
On the 25th I took four children from the Luhembwe family to the refuge. These refugee children, born in Southeastern Congo, had never been birding before, and they were very excited to be there. At three or four stops along the way they were helped to look through the scopes and binoculars of kind strangers and, later on at Picnic Pond, Ted and Mary Ellen Greenwald photographed us and later sent the photos, along with an invitation to visit the butterfly jungle in Gainesville. The sighting of the vermillion flycatcher, a pair of white-winged doves, eleven wood storks in trees near the road, and the eagles at their nest were all noteworthy. For the children though, it was seeing two alligators that made the day!