The birds arrived on schedule. Now all we need is the celebration and that too is on the way. The 20th Anniversary of the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival opens this week, a first glimpse at the summer tourism season ahead. Let’s hope the weather meets us all half-way. It doesn’t have to be superstar California warm, but a modest hope of 50 degrees can’t be too much to ask.
One of the key organizers of the annual festival, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist Poppy Benson, made a comment worthy of passing along. The festival attracts people from out of town, from around the state, the nation and even occasional international visitors. But often Homer people sit it out. We perhaps grown blasé about the presence of these famed birds, or, busy with our lives, don’t set aside time to take part. If you are one of those readers: Benson and other organizers want to extend a special invitation. Come on out, and get to know the birds. Make new friends. Take in fresh air.
The keynote speaker this year, George Archibald, makes the science of cranes and their woeful fight to survive accessible to all of us. He appeared on the Johnny Carson show, and managed send the old comedian into a laughing fit, over the trials of helping a whooping crane along in her parenting quest. His unconventional methods around the world should make for adventurous tales that won’t entirely sound academic, though beneath his stories is one of the difficulty in survival for more than 15 species of cranes.
Events this week offer a range of activities to both educate the public about the birds and enjoy the rare opportunities offered by the spectacular range of feathered visitors who stop in. It’s a chance to get out in the field for spotting birds and getting to know up-close and personal what a Dunlin is and how do yellowlegs get their meals from between the rocks. Our shores host some of the most captivating athletes in the world. These two-legged transcontinental travelers complete marathon migrations that make them super beings.
In addition to the birding stations, where U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists or knowledgeable volunteers help you spot the birds, there’s a variety of other ways to get to the birds. Would you rather take a bike ride to spot the birds? Go out in a kayak? In a comfortable warm Rainbow Tour boat? Take a car ride? Whatever your preference, it’s an option. Would you like to eat great food while viewing or thinking about the birds? There’s even a “culinary adventure” at Tutka Bay offered with award winning chef Kirsten Dixon.
Want to sit back and watch a movie? That’s an option. Another fantastic visitor to arrive this week is the author of “The Big Year,” Mark Obmascik whose book was made into the movie staring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. He will give a talk Saturday and show his movie at Mariner Theatre immediately after.
The week features songs, poetry, explanations, sightings, outings, laughs, new friends, and a chance to connect to Kachemak Bay. Hope to see you out there.
If true, this is hard case
A former Kenai Peninsula veteran was indicated last week for committing fraud instead of sending “Boxes to Heroes,” the name of his project. Francis Roach is accused of soliciting donations for boxes of goodies to be sent to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of going to the post office, he reportedly went to the bank and deposited it all for himself. From the $140,000 collected, Roach allegedly made his house payments, bought his groceries. If it all bears out as true and Roach is convicted of this crime, this will stand as one of the sadder stories of the year. A veteran ought to have been the last one to commit a fraud like this.
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