I am just now recovering from my disappointment over missing the SEANET training in Awendaw, SC a week and a half ago. Due to an improbable string of mechanical problems, airport power outages, and weird weather snarling air travel in the Northeast, I didn’t arrive in Charleston until the training was already over, so I just slunk off to my motel feeling sorry for myself. Fortunately, John Stanton, true friend of SEANET and the SEANET blogger, swept in with powerpoint at the ready and gave the presentation in my stead to a full house of prospective recruits. Attendees even got to handle actual carcasses and learn, hands-on, how to tag and measure them. Thanks to John, Jennifer Koches and Craig Watson and to Sarah Dawsey for bringing the whole thing off to the universal praise of everyone who attended. I am so grateful!
By the next morning, I was feeling sulky about missing the session, and now guilty too, for having a day to explore Charleston without having earned it by working. I also began to realize part of why I was so bummed: most of the time, I run SEANET all by myself from a computer at my house. When I get the rare chance to get out and talk to actual humans, I get inordinately excited about it. My disappointment at getting that chance was assuaged by the morning’s activities though.
John and I met at 7:30am to head out the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw. John once worked with the Director of their medical clinic, Debbie Mauney, and we were slated to meet with her and the Center’s Executive Director, Jim Elliott. What was intended to be a quick visit turned into the proverbial three hour tour, and John and I were both amazed at the quality of the Center and the dedication of its staff. The extensive, wooded grounds are beautiful, the collection of captive birds of prey from all over the globe impressive, and the medical facilities (including oiled bird washing building) the envy of most any wildlife veterinarian I’ve ever known. What stuns me is how few people in the area know this place exists. It’s open to the public, even offering live bird demonstrations and stations to view vultures feeding. Jim, Debbie, and all the staff have struck a fine balance between conservation, rehabilitation and public education, and I cannot recommend their Center enough. If you’ll be anywhere near Awendaw anytime soon, it’s worth a substantial detour.
After our visit, John took off for home, and I tried not to feel too guilty as I went birding and then for a run around Charleston through the moss draped trees and shaded courtyards of the College of Charleston and down to the stately houses fronting the Battery. But you should feel a little sorry for me. I am unaccustomed to tropical heat, and I was withering by the time I had to board another accursed plane and head back to New Hampshire. Naturally, the trip back was without delays or trouble of any kind. In fact, we got into Manchester a little early. Alas, Seanetters, alas. This only means I will have to visit South Carolina again soon to meet a new crop of fresh volunteers. The hardships I endure for you.