[CT Birds] Richard English

Greg Hanisek ghanisek at rep-am.com
Thu Jul 14 16:38:46 EDT 2011

I had the pleasure of spending many slow afternoon hawk watches with Richard at his beloved Lighthouse Point. I spent many great, hectic, exciting times there with him as well, but I really got to know him on the slow Mondays, when I was the official counter and he stayed after everyone else had left. A true gentleman.

You wouldn't know it from his humble demeanor, but Richard was a man of some means and he was as generous to worthy organizations as he was with his knowledge to those who visited Lighthouse. When I laid the groundwork for using more color in The Connecticut Warbler magazine, Richard made a generous donation to get things off the ground.

One of the charms of Lighthouse, given its proximity to Yale and other institutions of higher learning, is that the person asking you questions about bird ID might well be a world authority in some other field. Richard fit in to that realm as a classical music enthusiast with what to my tin ear seemed like encyclopedic knowledge of the subject. He and the late Betty Bell would carry on animated, learned discussions about the most recent symphony they had attended.

As others have mentioned, Richard kept a meticulous list of all the bird species seen at Lighthouse during each fall migration. When he arrived at the hawkwatch, anyone with knowlegde of a new bird would go straight to him with the information. If it was a REALLY good bird, he would always have a few pointed questions. A very memorable moment occured one calm and peaceful hawk watch day when the temperature dropped 20 degrees instantly and a micro-burst blew in off the Sound, knocking over folding chairs, toppling scopes, blowing away hats and - horror of horrors - carrying off Richard's list. It's a tribute to the regard in which he was held that a half-dozen full-grown hawk watchers spent the better part of a half-hour scouring every inch of the park looking for it to no avail.

Maybe he's found it.

Greg Hanisek

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