Edge -- Thanks for posting the Robert Fisher 'reflections', if not just most timely, a heart touching read for anyone, any birder, who races through life as we all do, to just give us pause and to reflect on our own lives.  A truly great piece written by Bob Fisher, whom I never met, nor knew, nor corresponded, but can certainly relate.
 
from former Missourian (Maryville) and follower of MO-BIRDS...
   Richard Rowlett
   Piedras Blancas Light Station
   San Simeon, California 
 
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Re: Bob Fisher
From: Edge <edgew AT MCHSI.COM>
Date: Tue, 17 May 2011 17:18:22 -0500
Bob was the quintessential birder.  Highly principled, independent,  
ready to share birding knowledge as well as opinions.  He led, he  
followed, he set a high bar.  He will be missed by people who never  
met him in person.  He was a connection--among Missouri birders and  
from past to present.  He was known, respected and appreciated by  
birders far beyond our state borders, many with names all American  
birders recognize.  We owe him much.

The following is one of several articles Bob wrote that appear on the  
ASM web page (www.mobirds.org), under the banner head "education"   
sub-head "articles."  I reproduce it here as a tribute to Bob and as  
an introduction of Bob to the birders who may not know what we, as a  
community have lost.

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
edgew AT mchsi.com

THE MIRROR OF FORTY YEARS OF BIRDING

                                                                         
              Robert G. Fisher
                                                                         
              Previously published in Winging It
                                                                         
              and, by permission, in several bird
                                                                         
              Club newsletters around the country
What reflections should occur upon realizing that I have been birding  
forty years? What real accomplishment has come from keeping lists,  
reporting strays, counting total species perceived in 24-hour  
periods, noting which individuals fly north too early or are too late  
flying south? Has it all been worth hundreds of miles of huffing,  
puffing and perspiring, dozens of soakings, multiplicities of frost- 
nipped toes, fingers, noses and ears, and countless other hardships?  
After so long, it's time for a comprehensive evaluation.

Alas, my achievements have all been ephemeral. Who now remembers my  
great triumph of May, 1950, when the whole field trip challenged my  
three Golden Plovers at Plum Island, Massachusetts, only to learn  
later that Ludlow Griscom had also reported them? How many readers of  
old local bird club newsletters will ever take serious note that I  
found a Ruff on Long Island in 1957, a Scissor-tailed Flycather in  
South Carolina in 1960, a White-winged Dove in Wyoming in 1973, etc?  
Who cares that Paul Buckley, Pete Isleib, Ned Boyajian and I once  
recorded 183 species on a New Jersey Big Day in the late fifties? Or  
that the Kansas City (Southeast) Christmas Count (which I compile)  
was highest in Missouri two years in a row in 1983 and 1984? Birding  
achievements fly away faster than birds do.

I must also admit that, for all I have seen and learned in forty  
years, I have never made it past the bush leagues as a competitive  
birder. After all, what's a misguided White-winged Dove compared to a  
disoriented Western Reef Heron, a bewildered (and sexually  
miscegenated) Flame-colored Tanager or a totally confused Little  
Curlew? What did we ever do in New Jersey that hasn't been excelled  
several times over by Emanuel, et al., in Texas, and McCaskie, et  
al., in California, not to mention other luminaries who have since  
shined more brightly in New Jersey itself? What can I ever expect to  
achieve in Missouri and Kansas, or even on occasional forays farther  
afield, that Larry Balch cannot outdo in a single day on Attu Island?  
While I dream of getting my ABA area life list to 600 before my  
hearing and eyesight fail completely, hundreds of farther ranging  
competitors have long since passed that goal and are working on 700,  
maybe even 800 someday. While I write checks for my daughters'  
college education, the big leaguers are paying enormous phone bills  
for calls to hotlines and buying plane tickets to peripheral parts of  
the country to nab first and second Rufous-capped Warblers, Rustic  
Buntings, Crimson-collared Grosbeaks and La Sagra's Flycatchers.

Nor can I claim to be truly world class at identification. While the  
top rankers are using their Questars to separate various stints from  
Westerns and Semis by the absence of half webs between their toes, my  
30-year old balscope and I still have trouble with male Westerns and  
female Semis. No matter how high I turn up my hearing aid, I still  
cannot hear Golden-crowned Kinglets, Blackburnians and creepers, much  
less differentiate obscure chip notes. I can usually tell a Roughleg  
from a Redtail by "gestalt" or "jizz," but, if an immature Parasitic  
or Pomeraine Jaeger were suddenly to swoop by, I'd be wanting a  
second swoop.

If ABA had a computer as ATP does, Benton Basham might be Ivan Lendl  
and Joe Taylor, Jimmie Connors, but I would only be Bob Fisher. I  
figure I'd be about No. 2384 in the US. The fact that I am  
equidistant from the big boys in annual expenditures would hardly  
excuse my low ranking. After forty years of trying to better myself,  
I qualify only for satellite events in the Corn Belt.

Why do I go on? That is hardest of all to explain. The obvious  
answer--that a bush leaguer can love a sport as much as a champion-- 
is not really sufficient. If I ever looked intensely in the mirror  
and told myself the truth, "You're really only No. 2384," my ego  
might recoil from further comparisons. However, like an alcoholic's,  
my denial system insulates me from the harsher realities. I live for  
hopes and dreams and respond to irrational appetites. As I glance at  
my feeder for the five thousandth time, I hope, "Maybe one of those  
siskins is a redpoll." As I head for Lake Jacomo (stands for "Jackson  
County, Mo."), I wonder, improbably, "Will there be a rare gull there  
today?"

To fantasies I add memories. The excitement of my first Snowy Owl on  
a desolate sand dune. After hours of stalking with a flashlight in a  
Spartina bog, my first Black Rail huddled directly below me (between  
my feet!). A jaeger dogfighting a tern. A Peregrine stooping while  
thousands of shorebirds take flight. The peace and beauty of Soras  
calling in a cattail marsh at dawn. Western Meadowlarks singing on  
the prairie at dusk. A Wood Thrush announcing the end of a rain shower.

Was it J. Alfred Prufrock who had counted out his life in coffee  
spoons? I've done better than that. I've counted out forty years of  
eager anticipations and magic moments. Indeed, forty years'  
habituation has put me beyond rehabilitation. However, intangible the  
results, I see no happier alternative than to keep wondering, "Is  
this the day that Jacomo finally will produce?"

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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Spring Meeting: April 29 - May 1, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri, http://mobirds.org/Meetings/sprmtg2011.asp