Grebe Lake – Discovering a Diamond in the Rough

(originally composed in 2014 August)

In June we moved from the far western side of Shenyang in the Technological Development Zone to the far eastern side of Shenyang in the Scenic Forest Zone. Even though doing so means my total work commute has skyrocketed from 10 minutes a day to 120, the new location is a huge quality of life net positive for our family. Whereas our old apartment was surrounded by factories, our new house is surrounded by forests. Though we suffer from the same general air quality problems as the rest of China, the air on this side of Shenyang is measurably cleaner than back at our old place. The neighborhood is also much safer and more pleasant to live in.

Poking around on Google Earth one day I noticed a small lake only a few kilometers from our house. I say noticed because though I had driven down the road running past the lake many times, due to the thickness of the surrounding woodlands I had no idea there was a lake located only meters away.

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Birding South Africa

September was another multi-country business trip – over the course of three weeks I would be barnstorming through Canada, the United States, and South Africa. Seeking to make the most of my first trip to the African continent, I set aside an entire Saturday for a guided birding trip. I say “entire” because as busy as I am it is unheard of for me to carve out a full day to myself during a business trip, weekend or not.


After some internet research I contacted several companies that offered tours basing out of Johannesburg, which is where I would be staying for the duration of my South African visit. A flurry of emails later and I had reserved a full-day tour with Birding Eco-tours, ordered a copy of the field guide they recommended, ordered another pocket guide for ease of use, and informed my staff accompanying me to South Africa that September 20th was “Boss Goes Birding Day” and not to plan any events with me for that date under pain of death.

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Reflections on 100 Birding Checklists in China

On October 18th I logged my 100th eBird checklist in China. Truly, this puts me in rare company – there are only four of us with 100 or more lists. Among them my friend Tom Beeke over in Dalian towers above all of us as he steadily closes in on 300. In celebration of my “Chinese Century” I took some time to analyze all 103 of my China lists to date.

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