A Gil of a Guy

Last week Karen and I set off on a three-state bird drive.  First stop was in Illinois at Graue Mill to see the Black-Crowned Night-Heron.  Then on to Shererville, Indiana where a very rare Barnacle Goose had been reported.  We pulled up at the location given to us in front of some townhomes next to a retention pond.  There were lots of fat mallards and Canada geese around the pond and the lawn next to the corner townhome.  We parked and approached the curb at the end of the street when a gentleman came out and started spreading corn and birdseed on the ground.  We asked him if the Barnacle Goose was still there and he said it was feeding behind a tree and invited us onto his lawn to get a better look.  As we approached he asked us to keep a respectful distance from the bird as to not upset it, which we always try to do.  We had great views of the goose from very close range for a long time!

Between pictures I began chatting with the gentleman as he continued to spread more seed for the birds.  Gil Patmore introduced himself and he said he has been laying out seed for birds there for many years.  In fact he said he usually put out 100 lbs. of corn per week in the winter and seemed to be very proud of having the fattest mallards in town!  Gil has been very involved in birding for many years, being a past-president of the Indiana Audubon Society, an award winning bird photographer, and involved in many local bird habitat projects.

When I heard he was a photographer I invited him to share some of his images on GreatBirdPics, which he promptly did.  What a guy, Gil!

The first pic below is of his Barnacle Goose – this goose is only rarely seen in the U.S. as it breeds in Greenland, Norway, and Russia.  Gil did not think it had escaped from a private collection (these birds are popular with collectors) and speculated that it was resting here after a long journey.

As we chatted with Gil we asked him where else in the area he would recommend birding.  He gave us a couple of suggestions and told us he was off for his daily walk at the Highland Rookery.  We stuck around a while longer as we watched this rare bird interact with the mallards and geese as they foraged for the seed.  We decided if the the Highland Rookery was good enough for Gil it was good enough for us and easily found it a few miles away.  As we walked along the path Gil was already on his way back toward his car and we chatted again.  He asked us if we had seen the Great Horned Owl nest or the nearby male, which we totally missed.  He walked us back and there was mama and chick in plain sight.  Gil took this picture of them previously at sunset.

After taking a good look here Gil walked us another 150 yards toward the parking lot and started looking up into a big willow tree. Sure enough, buried in the branches was papa GHO.  Below is a pic Gil had taken a few days before.

How nice could a birder be!  Gil was great to get to know and he generously spent his money for the benefits of the birds in the area and couldn’t have been nicer to us. Thanks Gil!  It was a pleasure meeting you.

Stay Safe.  Go Birding.  Take Pics.  Post Here.  Repeat.


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