“Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.” — Henry David Thoreau
I’m reading “Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent’s Natural Soul” by Scott Weidensaul, who retraced the 30,000-mile,1953 journey of two legendary ornithologists, American Roger Tory Peterson and Englishman James Fisher.
I read the original book, “Wild America,” which described the pair’s journey and the birds they saw along the way, many years ago. I read it slowly, envisioning the rookeries, the forests, the vast King Ranch in Texas, and the seashores on both sides of the continent that they encountered along the way.
I’m reading Weidensaul’s book the same way, tracing his route across a different America. As is life, it’s a story about loss and gain, the latter which of course I was pleased to see.
It’s a book worth reading.
In all, Tory and Peterson identified 532 of the approximately 925 bird species that can be found in North America. The ivory-billed woodpecker, which may or may not be extinct, was not one of them.
Their record number of birds seen — before the event of better transportation, Internet birding hotlines and an interest in tracking birds became popular — gave them the Big Year record.
The record was quickly broken, most recently in 1998, when three men went all out in competing for the honor. All three broke the then current record. You can read all about their wild chase back and forth across the continent in “The Big Year” by Mark Obmascik.
It’s a great read, too.
Bean’s Pat: The Chrysalis of Change http://tinyurl.com/m7e9u9d Yet another good one from one of my favorite bloggers.