Many friends gathered at the beautiful setting of Sherwood Island State Park, Nature Center for the Friends of Sherwood Islands 15th Annual meeting. Over 75 people gathered at Nature Center for the Annual Meeting. The Friends of Sherwood Island elected a new slate of officers and thanked the departing board members.
Sherwood Island Park Supervisor Jim Beschle provided an update on Park conditions and despite funding issues, the storm damage has been cleaned up, new water mains will be installed and pavilion will be upgraded to include solar heat and hot water with restrooms open all year. After a pleasant business meeting and positive report on the Park, Liz-Ann Koos, President, Friends of Sherwood Island S.P introduced board member, Tina Green, who introduced the speakers.
Guest speakers, Phil Donahue the Emmy Award-winning television personality and lover of Purple Martin aka “Gazebo Phil” and Milan Bull, Director of Science and Conservation for the Connecticut Audubon Society.
Phil Donahue spoke from the heart as Gazebo Phil and told us how he came to be a landlord to a Purple Martin colony. Phil shared how the Purple Martins taught him about wonder and discovery as an adult. As a child, he was not encouraged to explore and question, but was naturally curious anyway. Today he sees clearly that the lessons taught by pure investigation of the natural world, are simply vital to a child’s experience and will open undreamed of doors if this curiosity is nurtured.
Milan Bull, spoke about the science of Purple Martins and the recent identified plight of all aerial insectivores in Connecticut. Miley related the theme of Purple Martin’s to the major issue identified in the Connecticut Audubon Society 2013 “State of the Birds” report just released. All kinds of birds that find food in the air have seen a significant population decline. Something or some set of things is creating a steady downward spiral in the populations of swallows, swifts, goatsuckers, and flycatchers, all of whom in one way or another make their living from the food cleaned from the very air. There are a number of possible reasons, but so little is known about most of the factors that no single reason can be clearly identified. In fact so little is known, we really don’t even know what they eat or where it comes from. Much study is needed before it is too late.
A good time was had by all!
Last year I had the wonderful opportunity as host, to interview Phil Donahue on BirdCallsRadio about his Purple Martins and Gazebo Phil. Here is the interview. BCR 075: Phil Donahue