Hi All: WOW WOW WOW -- WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL
July 14 was our first Hancock Wildlife Foundation FledgeFest Open House, the long-awaited substitute for the Sidney FledgeFest. Mary and I were somewhat intimidated by inviting about 40 people to the house. It only seemed natural, after discussions with my project coordinator Karen, that we make the invitation open to anybody who ever watched the streaming cams - the same as the invitation to attend our former Sidney FledgeFest.
The objective of course was to offer back to all our supporters, volunteers and viewers an opportunity to meet, mix and swap stories -- and for us to say thanks to them all for their support. We decided to post the invite to the web but to put an RSVP so we had some idea of who might come -- what a saving decision!! Then one of the volunteers also suggested, since she thought more might come since we were located on the mainland, that we allow locals to contribute a plate of finger food -- another great decision. When 110 some had RSVP'd and 109 showed up we were certainly pleased for the extra plates and more!!
But the gathering was totally awesome. Many got to meet our landowner hosts of the web cams sites, Russ & Ellen (White Rock), Percy & Debbie (Mission), Will & Tarnia (Delta 2) and Betty Anne and Doug (Harrison Mills), most of the regional key moderators and a whole gathering of posters and lurkers. Then we had an honor role of authors: Terri Lhuillier/eaglewoman was to be the honored author with her book on the Redding, California/Turtle Bay eagle family (Patriot and Liberty) but she forgot to put the box of books in her car so we just had my autographed copy to show. Then both Christian Sasse and Tina Docharty/eaglenut with their wonderful books on the White Rock pair were busy autographing copies and Mary Scott had her new book out on the life of autism superstar Benn Kramer -- the "Eagle Man of Hornby Island". I was also honored to autograph over a dozen copies of my book. Christian also contributed prints that were being bought up like hot dogs and all book & image proceeds were contributed totally to the HWF donation pot which generated $980 -- wonderful.
There was another group of attendees that seemed to draw even more "pointed" attention -- our two baby sandhill cranes and the four Demoiselle cranes that all intermingled with the guests. Getting their toes cleaned or backsides poked by sharp pointed crane beaks was a new experience for many.
The visitors included a few fine neighbors, Ed and Bev who specialize in tolerating a neighbor with noisy birds and have super eagle art throughout their house; Mary's tennis and ski buddies who also track our cams out of self defense or wonderment about what Mary does with her life when not on an outing with them; Chris, Jim and the volunteers who keep all my birds happy and fed. Jim also recently began wood carving and many visitors commented on his fine work adorning the tabletops and walls, and then there was Ildiko with some "handleable parts of eagles" from the UBC Beaty Vertebrate Museum; Metro Vancouver Parks chief coordinator Stephen & Linning Suddes with whom we are working on a barn owl streaming exhibit. There was also a U.S. gang from NW Washington -- so great to get you all together. A special thanks to Dorte and Thor for coming down from Brackendale -- they pioneered bald eagle awareness and I was so honored they came. We also had a wonderful group of "rehabers" from Mountainaire Avian Rescue on the Island, OWL here at Delta and Elizabeth's Wildlife Center in Abbotsford -- these are the people our eagles count on for a second chance. The farthest distance visitors were Terri Lhuillier, Kit Harvey and my sales manager's George Wilson's sister, Loretta, all in from California.
And of course this whole event would not have come together at all if it had not been for Karen, Terry and Sharon who coordinated it, had the name tags printed -- over and over -- I gather -- until they learned how to spell "Hancock" (!!!!), sold all the books and images and all those who brought food, but particularly our HWF Director Susan Muraja who with Mary prepared much of the food, along with Rosana and the cooperative efforts of many who chipped in to see that "everything got placed out for you" -- quite incredible. I think I was busy watering a rose!! No - that's right, we don't have roses!!
I was also complimented on not interrupting the event with announcements and thanks and inane stories -- something I was going to do but every time I was about to do this I could see a group of 20 heading off to the bird pens or 10 following Jim off "presumably" to his wood carving area, so I simply shut up -- and that was hard for me.
So here is my sincere thanks, appreciation, not just for providing us and our mutual "friends of the eagles" with your wonderful presence but your help for the entire eagle project over these past years. The streaming eagles are your project and I am so honored to be part of it.
Now with final kudos to Mary -- she not just bore the brunt of the preparation and cleanup, but puts up all year with my eagleholic friends and my lifestyle -- and more importantly, at least convincingly to me, she pretends she loves it!! Love and thanks to my best friend and life partner Mary.
Hancock Wildlife Foundation