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President's Letter - June/July 2024

By Ann Paul, President, Tampa Audubon Society

We were sitting around a small table, sharing a meal on a summer evening. Acquaintances, not yet friends. Then we started to talk about trips we had made, places we had visited, things we had seen. And suddenly, we were sharing some of the best times in our lives. And suddenly we experienced a profound change in what we meant to each other.

For me, the memory was a trip with my husband. We were driving north on the California coastal highway between San Luis Obispo and Monterey. All day we had stopped at scenic pullovers to see black oystercatchers and turnstones, watch spouting whales off-shore, and observe elephant seals hauled out on sandy beaches. The windy road seemed long now, and we were getting tired.

Suddenly a large bird soared overhead. “It’s a Golden Eagle!” I shouted. “No,” my more observant and superior bird-watcher husband stated. Together, we breathed, “It’s a California Condor.”

At the next lay-by, he pulled over and we got out to catch our breaths and talk about what we had seen. To our total amazement, more than ten condors were flying up the sharp coastal escarpment, circling and flying low over the promontory where we had parked!

I turned to a man seated on a picnic table and informed him of my happiness, “These birds are California Condors!”

“I know,” he said. Then I noticed that he had a tracking device in his hand and was noting the wing tags of the swooping condors. He was a biologist surveying survival and behavior of one of the world’s rarest animals.

That was the story that I shared with my now very good friends. They told me their stories, and we enjoyed a mutual understanding - knowing that contact with the special wildlife of our beautiful world was important to us. I am so grateful for the memory and for the opportunity to share it with them.

I hope you all take advantage of getting to know the like-minded people of your Audubon Society!

Life is not measured by the breaths we take but the moments that take our breath away.



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