Monday, March 19, 2012

Looking to the Future! Bird Education Nepal

As I sit here in Yosemite, feeling the chilly wind blowing in from somewhere far away, but on the same Earth, I am reminded of the migration of birds. Here in the Yosemite Area our days are full of school and work but we feel the connection we share with our friends both feathered and human on the other side of the planet. We are working to make sure that the work we have done to help students and birds connect in Nepal continues through Bird Conservation Nepal and are excited with the updates we get from there.

Exciting news here is that we have started a fund and awareness-raising campaign through Yosemite Area Audubon Society and Balanced Rock Foundation With these efforts we hope to meet our goals of making Bird Education Nepal a sustainable program, continuing the Bird Watching Club model that we created these past two years. We will update through this blog and look for our link to appear on Balanced Rock's web site soon. (You can check out their other fabulous offerings while you are there!).

Thank you to all who have supported this successful project in all ways!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Boudhanath Stupa...always makes me sigh with emotion as I watch all the people gathering to walk the kora together...

Stupa Pigeons are some of the best fed critters on the planet!

Dinner with Tsultrim & Vijaya

Hmmm, what here's some insight into how birds and fish
are viewed in Nepal and in much of the world.

Excited to be birding every day!

Learning to cook Tibetan delicacies at KK of our favorites in Boudha

Parting Shots...

Birding at Chobar Gorge with my friend Som.

We saw over 70 birds and fell in love with them....and then walked along the really festering part of the river where all of the water drains from Kathmandu Valley...and all of the trash. The scent was unbearable. The birds were amazing! Our hearts were full and broken at the same time. What can we DO!??

Som pointing out all the trash at the temple on the Sacred River.

Can you see the bird in this shot on the right? Can you tell who it is? How much more can the birds take?

Indian Pond Heron!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Visuals...of a blessed Life!

Art by student Sonam Choekyi

Fire and Ice Pizza Night!

Class 2 at Manasarovar Academy!

Sarah and Marcella at Chobar

Here's one of a really cute Mom and her kids on the local Sundarijal bus on their way home from school. We shared hearty laughs and even a few words of our respective languages. Sweetness...

Pasang Lamo "A" and I in the photo on the right...beautiful bird! Sad "Good-bye"

More to come as I re-enter ....but here are a few early morning thoughts...

As thoughts and memories and a rising tide of emotion floods my being, I think of a simple truth I can't help but embrace in this blessed life...One World. Inevitably I embrace this truth in Yosemite National Park where I am so fortunate to have lived for so long. Can't help but to notice that the boundaries we have drawn around The Park are just our own. I have never seen a bird, frog, bear or even a deer in the line at the entrance station! Surely the air and rain and snow clouds pass right on in and through.

We humans make imaginary lines and borders around ourselves from our personal home real estate to our town, state, country, hemisphere... Our response to/in our world could certainly be limited with these walls we construct.

When I travel and teach kids in another country, it is so apparent that they are kin. We share more than we differ. We laugh and cry at the same things. We want the same things for ourselves and for our families: enough clean, healthy food and water. A future filled with promise. A long and happy life full of friends and family. A healthy planet.

We live in the same place. We breathe the same air. The wind swirls the clouds around and around again with whatever they may carry, from hemisphere to hemisphere. The water we drink today has passed through a thousand bodies of beings all over this Earth.

The birds migrate along with all walks of life forms...north south and every direction, getting their life stories completed.

With that, I have a train to my little village in these mountains that are connected to the ones I just left...More later.

Some Images...and Sweet Memories

What a gift this month in Nepal has been. I am so grateful to the many people who helped make this dream a reality! It has been less than a year since our family
departed from our long stay in Nepal together. during that time we made deep bonds with fellow
students and teachers and birders and of course the animals we share the beautiful land with!

When we left late last December, it seemed inevitable that I would, should return to give this fledgling bird club a boost. The students were so deserving and they had gotten "under my skin" in a deep way!

Here I am months later, departing after another rich and fruitful course in bird-watching, leadership, wildlife conservation, connection across the miles and so much more! This time I feel that the students have a very sustainable program and a base of knowledge that will carry them into their future of bird-watching and possibly even careers in Conservation biology.

Gratitude for this chance is owed to the fine people at Kailash Hostel - the staff and the board. Special thanks to Steve Webster for his commitment to these kids and to following through on
everything. Thanks to Menuka at Bird Conservation Nepal for her participation in our walks and her promise to follow up with monthly walks with the students when it is possible. To Nancy Bruce and Eagle Optics (Vortex) for the enabling gift of
binoculars!! To Alice Anda and her foundation for the support that helped get Sarah Stock to come and teach so much! To Sarah for teaching so much! and sharing this adventure so intimately! To my family for their love, faith and patience! Big thanks to the Himalayan Children's Foundation, especially David Bidwell, for the belief in the program and in the students of Kailash Hostel - enough for supporting my journey and life in Nepal for the month!

With love and thanks for all that I have from the many amazing people
that have made this all possible...Especially the inspiring students of Kailash Hostel Bird-Watching Club!
Let's keep up the good works!

Welcome Dance Show for New Manager Tenzin Wangdue

Last Friday night, 11/11/11, the students organized and performed a dance/talent show to welcome their new Hostel Manager Tenzin Wangdue. They were really excited to let him know how happy they are to have such a wonderful addition to their support team at Kailash and their joy was obvious in their efforts.

There were several board members in attendence and Sarah and I were invited and welcomed too. The students performed Nepali dance as well as English dance and we were so impressed by their own choreography, music selection, costumes design and setting up the sound incredible feat! The sound system by the way, "went to 11" when it worked; the students were very
adaptable when it didn't!

Pictured here is Pasang "A" and her group of Nepali dancers.
With their spirited and lovely dance they "wowed" the crowd so much that Pasang was voted "best dancer" of the show!

Everyone in the audience was thrilled to see the performers showing their stuff. There was so much cheering that the music was muted sometimes!

One of the biggest audience outbursts
happened when the boys were dancing,
turning tricks and busting some perfectly timed moves when the young herd of boys ran out and filled the dance floor with their antics...really good dance moves!! What fun it was to hear the peals of laughter and surprise from the crowd while the boys savored the auditory compliments.

Tenzin Wangdue and the Bird Watching Club kids honored
me for contributing with the traditional Kata/scarf, which was so moving. I love this Tibetan/Himalayan expression of gratitude and connection.

This was the start of an emotional week of saying "Goodbye" to Nepal and all of the people I love there. They have become like family, though I never know when I will see them again.

After the students served us a sumptuous Nepali supper in the clean and bright dining room, we departed feeling full and satisfied with what this evening held, and with where these students are headed with their love for birds.

I feel that they have learned so much from all of the people they have come into contact with during this past month. They have taken the chance to heart by asking questions and bonding with each visitor to the Bird Watching program. What a pleasure to have watched them soaking up not just the companionship but also the unique skills and expertise that these wonderful visitors and volunteers have offered them. It has been impressive as always, to see gratitude flow from them without any prompting from me or from anyone else; it really comes sincerely from their hearts.

We came one more time to say our "Goodbyes", Sarah and I, exchanging gifts of hugs and little treasures and love...and the promises to keep watching and learning about birds. There are quite a few students who have shown interest in joining now that we are finished with this course and the current students will be their mentors. It will be such a pleasure to hear about how things are going after we leave. I know that there will be many feathery, flighty winged adventures in the bird walks to come. I wish it for them all...and may we meet again!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kailash Bird Watching Club Leads Walk for Mono Lake Couple!

The Kailash Hostel Bird Watching Club had a chance to try out their "stuff" with some keen bird watchers from afar! Wangdawa Sherpa and Deanna Dulen and their "auntie-cousin-mother-sister" (relative) Kanchi, were treated to a bird walk led by the Kailash students after school on Monday. They were only partially prepared as this event came a day earlier than they had expected. They did a great job in welcoming the visitors who currently reside in Mono City, California.

The story of Mono Lake is one that these young people have learned about and cherish as an environmental story with a happy ending. It was fun for them to meet Wangdawa, a Nepali who has moved to Mono Lake and Deanna, who is superintendent of Devil's Postpile National Monument on the east side of the Sierra.
Wangdawa and Deanna are visiting Nepal for over a month and just finished a trip led by Wangdawa to his village and around the Solu area for two weeks. The couple were joined by 15 travellers

also from the eastside of the Sierra Nevada mountains in
California. They finished their group trip with four days in Chitwan National Park where we enjoyed some great time with them!
The students took Deanna and Wangdawa and Kanchi on a short walk before it got dark and enjoyed each other's warm company immensely!

Somehow, the hostel gate was decorated with a Mono Lake sticker later that night! Hmmmm....

This was a great experience for the kids to meet some more great people and to have some practice at leadership of their own group. They loved sharing what they know with gracious and interested folks. This experience was so valuable and we all hope to meet again at the short end of a pair of binoculars!

Mystery Bird #4!

Another in flight...I can't resist these.

Black Drongo! Note the rictal spot!