Friday, April 27, 2007

Dinner with Kenn Kaufman (sort of)

Last night, Beth and I attended the annual Urner Ornithological Club dinner. The Urner Club is a NJ birding club that has been in existence since the 1930's. It's named for Charles Urner, a well-respected NJ ornithologist from the early 20th century and one of the founding members of the club. I've only been a member since October, but I've really enjoyed the monthly meetings. Most of the club members that I've met are "old school" birders. Most of these guys and gals have been birding since the 1950's and before. The tales they tell are incredibly interesting and their knowledge of birds and nature is astounding. I love to just sit and listen to everyone talk.

The dinner was held at a local restaurant. After some pretty decent food, the club held a short meeting where I was elected treasurer (uncontested!). We also introduced guests and distinguished members. One member present has been in the club since 1936! That received a well-deserved applause. When asked to come to a future meeting and tell some tales of his experiences in the club, he quickly retorted, "When I get older." Ha!

The evening's keynote speaker was Kenn Kaufman. His presentation was titled, "Birds and the Undiscovered World." It was a very engaging presentation relating birding to the adventures of Christopher Columbus. He tied in his childhood admiration for Columbus to his experiences with birding. He told us of how he learned more and more about Columbus and some of the truths he discovered that put a damper on Columbus's image. He was able to tie this into birding very well and he challenged the audience to expand their horizons to other things in nature and to help involve more diverse populations in our great hobby. It's a great presentation that you might have a chance to see in your area. Kenn seems to be all over the place.


Why do I look so buff in this picture?


When Kenn finished, the dinner was all but over. I took the opportunity to introduce myself to Kenn and we chatted briefly about his new Field Guide to Insects. I wish I had brought books with me for him to sign! I'll be sure to post an announcement about next year's dinner when time comes since guests are always invited.

7 comments:

Beth said...

The dinner was interesting, informative, inspiring and fun! Kenn Kaufman is a cool cat. You look so buff because you are! Yeah!

P. Ollig said...

That's freakin' awesome, Patrick! Man, can you imagine going birding with Kenn?

I did get a chance to bird with Pete Dunn when he visited Fairbanks five years ago. Even remembered to bring my "Hawks in Flight" book for him to sign. I tell ya, nothing makes you feel more like an amateur than spending a few minutes watching one of these guys in action!

Larry said...

I hope that I do get a chance to see Ken Kaufman. His books and articles are more interesting to me than almost any other birder's.

Pete Dunn is another one that I would like to see.

tai haku said...

As a brit, kaufman was not such a big figure when I started birding as I imagine he'd be for an american. Once I read Kingbird Highway and learned about the various fieldguides and stuff he seems an amazingly in touch guy. like a wildlife jedi if you will. Very cool you met him.

Patrick Belardo said...

Paul,
I would love to go birding with him! How awesome would that be!

Tai,
He definitely is a wildlife jedi. I am but a young padowan compared to him. Ok, that was my random act of dorkiness today and I probably spelled "padowan" wrong.

mon@rch said...

Kenn Kaufman is such a great person and very kind! Every time I bug him, I always ask him if he would do the chickadee poem that he has!

dguzman said...

Must be the slick 'do you're throwing down, Patrick! That must've been cool, meeting Kaufman.