Thursday, June 18, 2009

Billy Sandifer nominated for Heroes of Conservation Award

By: Michelle Horine

Nicknamed the "Padre of Padre Island", local fishing guide, birder, & conservationist Billy Sandifer received a shocking phone call from Field & Stream Magazine recently. The magazine's editor and chief informed Sandifer that he had been nominated for their "Heroes of Conservation Award". Sandifer was selected for the August Edition "Heroes of Conservation" which pays $1,000 and a an all expense paid trip to Washington D.C. in October for the semi-finals. If selected for the overall award, Sandifer has a chance at winning $4,000 and a brand new Toyota Tundra. "I don't feel as if I've done anything to justify all of this, says Sandifer. It has been the back breaking work of volunteers that has caused all of this to transpire."

For years, the humbled Captain has been recognized locally for his work as the recipient of a Conservation & Environmental Stewardship Award given by the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation as well as the organizer of the "The Big Shell Beach Clean Up" for the past 14 years. This year's clean-up was featured on the Texas Country Reporter with Bob Phillips where more than 500 volunteers cleaned up 800,000 pounds of debris from the Padre Island National Seashore.

Without fail, Sandifer hand writes his daily fishing and birding reports with intent detail. At the end of each quarter he types up those reports and turns them into the Padre Island National Seashore and the Texas Bird Records Committee for research and conservation purposes. He does this, not because he has to, but because he wants to. This type of documentation is a tremendous resource in evaluating and protecting each and every species that can and has been spotted in the area.

"You are a Texas Icon and a Texas Treasure" replied, Dr. Ray Emerson, friend and supporter of Sandifer after hearing of the news.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Corpus Christi Wins 'America's Birdiest City'

Birding Title Awarded to
Corpus Christi for the 7th year in a Row!

Corpus Christi- The results are in and Corpus Christi once again celebrates the title of 'America's Birdiest City'. Corpus Christi has held the title consecutively each year since 2003.

The annual nationwide contest determines the best city for birding after hundreds of avid birders from around the country count the number of species seen betweetn April 1 and May 31. Within the two-month span of the contest, participating cities and counties selected a 72-hour window to count birds, making it a fast-paced competition somewhat like a scavenger hunt.

Local birders united again this year and counted a total of 217 species of birds in our city. The team was made of members from the Audubon Outdoor Club, Coastal Bend Audubon Society and many other birders. San Diego, California came in second with 198 species of birds.

"The win for our area was bigger than it might appear, because of the weather conditions," said Keith Arnold, CEO of the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau. "In spite of the gale force wind, we were able to regain the 'America's Birdiest City' title while the American Birding Association was holding its national convention in Corpus Christi. This distincting continues to embellish the CVB's nature tourism marketing for the region."

The 2009 results released the morning of Monday, June 15, 2009 declared Corpus Christi the overall winner as 'America's Birdiest City'. Nueces County was named the Birdiest Coastal County along the Gulf Coast with 238 birds.

Avid Birder and this year's local competition organizer Larry Jordan said the competition was intense not just becasue of the wind, but also the drought and high tides forcing the participants to overcome obstacles not typically present.

Link to Corpus Christi Caller Times Article: