Click on the links below to browse my professional, Ornifolks and the Nature Club sites.
Ornifolks is a network of international birders whose goal is to travel safely and economically to distant birding destinations.
The Golden Crescent Nature Club recently sponsored the Spring Texas Ornithological Society Convention in Port Lavaca, Texas. Happy 50th Anniversary, T.O.S.!
Gulf Coast Plant Engineering, Inc. is a network of engineers offering professional services in the Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental, Instrument, Mechanical. Process, Metallurgical, Safety and Structural disciplines both locally and worldwide.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and would appreciate your suggestions, comments, updates, reports of broken links, etc.
Ornifolks is a network of birders who share trip expenses to bird distant places as economically as possible.
An Ornifolks trip is usually safer than doing a trip alone and is often less expensive than a professional tour.
The goal of Ornifolks is to enable members to visit international birding areas safely and affordably. Take the plunge!
It began in 1991 when I placed a classified ad in Winging It to find partners to share cost of a vehicle rental to visit Belize and Tikal. Mike Flieg had already laid the groundwork for a network of international birders, and others responded enthusiastically, paving the way for a “rolling anarchy” of loosely-knit birders, cages oiseaux who have since dispatched expeditions to over thirty international destinations. Wherever possible we try to keep costs down by sharing expenses for transportation and lodging. We will use local ground agents and guides where appropriate, but our groups are informal and participants do not receive (and should not expect) the care and attention they would get with a “full service” tour organization. If you can’t afford to pay what some of the international tours are charging, and are willing to forego the luxuries, check us out. We recognize the amount of work and effort required to make an international tour operate smoothly, and our organizers expect participants to help with expenses involved in setting up a trip.
And… if you are having difficulty reaching Mike, Guy or myself by e-mail please remember we may be off somewhere watching birds!
ORNIFOLKS trips focus on target species- generally hard-to find, endemic or threatened- and itineraries are often tight with little time for relaxation. Please do not invite a non-birding spouse.
Here are some short biographies of a few of our tour organizers.
Co-founder of Ornifolks, G. Michael Flieg became interested in birds as a Boy Scout where he advanced to the Eagle rank. He pursued a Wildlife Management degree at the University of Missouri. Upon graduation he joined the staff of the St. Louis Zoo where he advanced to Curator of Birds. Later he accepted this position at the Chicago Zoo in Brookfield. Mike did extensive research on grouse in Canada over an 11 year period. He was named Ornithologist for the American Quintana Roo Expedition. He received the Antarctic medal as a result of two penguin collecting expeditions to the continent. He did field work in the Andes, and along the Amazon, and spent six weeks collecting birds and eggs on St. Lawrence Island. He has collected first breeding certificates for four avian species and was elected to the Avicultural Hall of Fame. He has published nearly 100 technical articles which are distributed in Ornithological, Avicultural and Veterinary Journals. Mike has organized and led several birding tours all over the world, and has birded on all of the continents. Recently he has written Photographic Guides to the West Indies and South Florida, and is working on a site guide to the West Indies.
Mark Elwonger is a registered professional engineer and owner of Gulf Coast Plant Engineering in Victoria, Texas. Mark is the junior author of Birding Texas, published by Falcon Press, and is the author of Finding Birds on the Central Texas Coast. Through Ornifolks, he has been instrumental in organizing about ten birding trips to South & Central America, Australia, Asia and Africa, since 1991.
Guy Kirwan is a freelance ornithological editor and tour guide based in Norwich, UK. He has been involved in the production of a number of seminal works in recent years, including two volumes of the universally acclaimed Handbook of the Birds of the World, the updated (1996) version of Sibley’s Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World, Birdlife’s Threatened Birds of the World, and a monograph of the Sylvia Warblers. He is co-author of three works on Middle Eastern ornithology. A regular contributor to the technical and more popular periodic literature on birds, he has spent approximately four years (of the last decade) in the field, principally in his favourite countries of Turkey, Cuba and Brazil.
Chris Bradshaw is a freelance bird tour leader based in Kent, South-east England. Chris runs layover and short-break birding trips in the UK and has travelled extensively in the Western Palearctic (including repeated trips to Morocco, Spain, France & Turkey) and Asia (India, Nepal, Kazakstan, China and Thai-Malay peninsula). In addition he has led tours to India (4 tours in Goa), China (Beidaihe), Peninsula Malaysia, Cuba, Canada and many locations across the UK.
Since Mike first posted a request in “Winging It” for international budget birders, our club has grown to become a full fledged anarchy. Beginning as ‘Avian Adventures’ (a moniker that was usurped in 1996 by a later upstart), Ornifolks has kept afloat on a shoestring budget and a core group of loyal friends. Our trips have become attractive to many birders, who are otherwise unwilling to bird internationally due to the high prices charged by professional companies.
We have managed to keep expenses down by camping, staying in budget hotels and generally avoiding the gourmet meals and “mint on the pillow” scene of some tour groups. Our trips have established many friendships amongst our members, and this, in our opinion, is why our participants prefer to repeat an Ornifolks experience rather than engage a more organized ‘pro’ tour.
Ornifolks began with the philosophy that our trips would be self-guided, but we soon found that the experience could be greatly enhanced by enlisting the services of knowledgeable international and local birders. In the international arena, we quickly gained some British friends. Paul Salaman, Guy Kirwan, Chris Bradshaw, Guy Eldridge and Rodney Martins eagerly volunteered their experience in Colombia, SE Brazil, Morocco, Africa and Sichuan, respectively.
We have always hoped that members would step forth to organize and lead trips, and Patrick Cardwell, Norm Erthal, Chris Hines, Todd Mark, Dennis Rogers, Larry Rubey, Barry Walker, Ray Ziarno and others have met and exceeded all our expectations. We made some great connections in Argentina, including Juan Mazar Barnett, Santiago Imberti, Mark Pearman, German Pugnali, and Hernán Casañas.
Ornifolks have birded Russia, China, Turkey, Morocco, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Madagascar, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador and the Galápagos, Colombia, Peru, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatamala, Belize, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, and several other sites.
One of the high points of the decade was the big month in Colombia, led by Paul Salaman, when our group totaled 1,026 species, thus raising over $40,000 for BirdLife International.
Ken Cole, Travis MacClendon, Todd Mark, Guy Kirwan, and Louise Augustine have always been available for special assignments. Mark has edited 20 newsletters and numerous trip reports, field checklists, and tapes, which we have made available to anyone upon request. He has also developed the website, which is scoring several hits a day and is cultivating greater interest in the birding community.
How will Ornifolks evolve over the next decade? Clearly, the advent of e-mail and the worldwide web will help us minimize the logistical hurdles of organizing a trip and attracting enough participants to make trips go whenever and wherever our members desire.
We used to admit members for free! But now with hundreds of members each newsletter would cost us over $350 to reproduce and mail. In the future any NEW members who request a snail-mail newsletter will be assessed a lump sum of $10, but we plan to phase out the snail-mailings in the next few years.
Dodging the Membership Fee
If you can receive our newsletter as an attached PDF file, readable with Adobe Acrobat Reader, or if you can access this website on a regular basis, membership is free! You can do this in two ways:
Download the NL from this site (simply follow the newsletter links)- you will not receive an e-mail informing you when new newsletters are issued.
Put your e-mail address on our “e-list” and receive a short e-mail note with a link to our download site when the next NL is issued.
Either method requires installation of Adobe Acrobat Reader ™ on your PC.
To sign up as an “e-folk” and receive an e-mail notification when our newsletter is updated, please send me your request: e-mail Mark at email@example.com for details.
Newsletters are printed and mailed at irregular intervals as the need warrants- hopefully this website will help us keep expenses down and still get the word out. We generally issue 2-3 NL/yr.
To receive hardcopies via snail mail of our newsletter send $10 to:
St Louis MO 63139
Fax (314) 645-3366
Since our inception in 1991, Ornifolks have staged over two dozen international birding trips. We’ve tried to keep notes on our adventures and have compiled many trip reports, and even a few tapes of bird recordings.
Ornifolks makes available to its members and participants trip reports, which include itineraries, diaries, and species lists. Where information is not sensitive or proprietary, we often include maps and detailed directions to specific sites. We do this so that
birders can gain from what we have learned when we visited these sites, and
we can return the favor to our local ground agents who are often struggling to survive in an emerging (and often over-rated) eco-tourism industry.
Reports are often designed to be printed on legal-size paper, and folded into a booklet with 4 pages to a sheet. They are distributed with the intent of generating interest for members to visit sites.
Trip reports generally include an itinerary, a diary, a section on special species, and the trip species list table with dates as columns. When species location information is not sensitive or proprietary, maps are included.
We’ve begun making cassette tapes available after certain trips. The tapes vary in quality, but generally they are recorded with a Sennheiser shotgun microphone with a Sony TCM-5000 monaural recorder. Please inquire as to price and availability, if interested.
Some ground agencies that we’ve used over the years, in a very professional capacity, and some we might use in the future, are listed below. Members who might be willing to assist other members to specific areas can be linked by clicking here.
|Patrick & Marie-Louise Cardwell||SW African Cape, Uganda, Zambia|
|Manu Expeditions/ Barry Walker||Bolivia & Peru|
|Village Ethiopia/ Tony Hickey||Ethiopia|
|Exotissimo/ Richard Craik||Vietnam, Myanmar|
|Lanka Sportreizen||Sri Lanka|
|O.P. Mudgal||Northern India|
|Chris Bradshaw||North Kent & UK|
We’re planning some exciting trips to destinations that would be difficult to travel to on your own. Click on the organizer’s name from the list below to send him e-mail, or click on the destination to link to a page describing the trip.
Calendar Trip Info
Dates Arrive Departure Port Leader
Carajás 24-Aug-04 14-Sep Belem $3,000 Guy Kirwan
Tanzania 3-Sep-04 25-Sep Arusha $2,850 Sander
SE Brazil 20-Sep-04 12-Oct Rio $3,200 Guy Kirwan
Tana $4,000 Guy Eldridge
NE Zambia Sept-Oct 04 tba tba Patrick Cardwell
Cuba 2-Nov-04 11-Nov Havana $1,980 Guy Kirwan
B Aires $4,100 Juan Mazar Barnett
NW Argentina 3-Nov-04
B Aires $3,100 Hernán Casańas
Junin 22-Nov-04 27-Nov Lima tba Huw Lloyd, Elwonger
Endemics-Peru 27-Nov-04 2-Dec Lima $1,000 Huw Lloyd, Elwonger
Northern Peru 2-Dec-04 20-Dec Lima $2,900 Huw Lloyd, Elwonger
Subantarctic NZ Dec04
Northeastern Brazil Feb-05 Rio Juan Mazar Barnett
Namibia 22-Jan-05 12-Feb Windhoek $3890 (6pax) Chris Hines
Colorado Grouse (1) 10-Apr-05
Denver $975 Flieg
Colorado Grouse (2) 17-Apr-05
Denver $975 Flieg
Colorado Grouse (3) 24-Apr-05
Denver $975 Flieg
Hawaii May-05 Mike Flieg
Malay Penn-Sabah 28Aug-05 15-Sept $4,250 Chris Bradshaw
New Zealand Nov-05 $6,500 Mark Elwonger
Peninsular India 6-Nov-05
$4,800 Chris Bradshaw
NE India Feb-06
$4,800* Chris Bradshaw
Formosa Apr-06 Taipei tba David Russell/MAE
Myanmar Mar-Apr07 Chris Bradshaw
Vietnam tba Chris Bradshaw
tba = to be announced *budget
Inquire about the status of a waiting list from GMF or from the leader when trips are indicated as ‘full’
The Golden Crescent Nature Club (GCNC) is an informal group of Victoria- Port Lavaca area residents who share an interest in learning about and observing nature. The club members are interested primarily in bird-watching, but enjoy all aspects of the natural sciences. Meetings are generally held at the Texas Zoo at 7:00 PM on the second Tuesday of each month from September to May. A field trip is usually held the Saturday following each meeting. The club sponsors the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the annual North American Migration Count and holds a spring picnic for members. A monthly newsletter, De Rerum Natura, is published from September to May.
The Willam Henry Schroeder Island Bird Sanctuary
The newest sanctuary of the Texas Ornithological Society. For a location map click the above link. Plant and bird lists are under development.
Magic Ridge: The Zimmerman Road Project
With the Texas Ornithological Society and the Texas Nature Conservancy, the Golden Crescent Nature Club is working to establish a sanctuary on this important coastal shell ridge in Calhoun County. Check here in the near future to download the management plan (as PDF).
The Central Coast Bird Sightings Database:
Operating since 1991 to consolidate and record sightings of early, late, out-of-range, high numbers, or otherwise unusual sightings. Now merged with the Texas Clearinghouse.
The Seasonal Checklist for Birds of the Central Coast :
Data from the regional sightings database are periodically reviewed and the Seasonal Distribution Checklist is updated to reflect the changing status of area bird species.
De Rerum Natura: Newsletter of the GCNC
Club news, local bird sightings, field trips and programs. Click the link above to download as PDF.
Finding Birds on the Central Texas Coast
The mini-CD version is now available for a $10 donation to the club.
Gulf Coast Plant Engineering, Inc. is a privately-owned engineering consulting firm located in Victoria, Texas. Our staff and associates provides professional engineering services in the following areas:
In addition to these basic services, the owner has extensive experience in the design and operation of fluid-phase low-pressure polyethylene manufacturing using Union Carbide’s patented Unipol™ process. Design experience includes: