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Stallcup, the Great Spirit

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  • John Sterling
    I heard the news about Rich while looking for birds in the town of Smith River during the Del Norte CBC on Sunday. Todd Easterla got the phone call and
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 20, 2012
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      I heard the news about Rich while looking for birds in the town of Smith River during the Del Norte CBC on Sunday. Todd Easterla got the phone call and relayed the news to me as we stood in the rain looking for rare warblers and orioles. Todd and I spent the rest of the day and Monday birding and sharing stories about Rich. Todd was especially fond of the moment last year at the Pt Reyes CBC compilation dinner when Rich motioned that Todd was to sit next to him. Todd felt honored by the privilege. I also felt honored to be in Rich's presence every time from the moment that I met him in 1973 on an epic journey to Arizona for two weeks. I was only 13 years old at the time, but Rich mentored me on the trip and I was awestruck. He quickly become my idol. I have a photo of him that I took while we were preparing to camp at Sonoita Creek. I've had that photo taped to a wall in my house ever since.

      He meant so much more to me than being a role model as a birder. He was a cultural icon who transcended mere birding in his influence. While at Mono Lake in 1976, he facilitated my rite of passage into adulthood by chanting at dusk while we meditated at the "Fountain of Youth" spring. It was a spiritual awakening for me (an awakening to the spiritual and magical world of nature), and 12 years later during a celebration at Mono Lake, I told Rich about what that evening meant to me. He gave me a great big bear hug and I could see in his eyes that he know exactly what I had experienced as private as it was. As a birding mentor, he encouraged me to lead and sent short notes encouraging or congratulating me....these notes were precious and kept me going during my teen and college years. On that same trip in 1976, I told him that I wanted to do a state Big Year in 1977 as it was during my junior and the beginning of my senior years in high school. He asked me what my goal was...I told him 350 species. This would mean that I would have to get to every area of the state, see most if not all of the regular breeding and wintering species with a few vagrants added to the mix. Rich flatly told me that 350 would not be acceptable and that I had to get to 400 (which I did on the last day of the year). His response was a challenge for me to think "bigger". I took on that challenge primarily because he gave it to me and I didn't want to let him down.

      Although birds, bugs, herps, plants etc were very important to Rich, the time when I saw him at his most glorious self was when Dick Erickson and I drove down from Humboldt County in the fall of 1980 to meet his newborn daughter, Willow. Rich glowed with excitement. Many years later, I heard that same excitement in his voice when I spoke with him on the phone and he told me about his new grandchild.

      About two years ago, I wrote Rich a long letter describing how much of a positive influence he had on my life. His reply was "this is great stuff". I am so grateful that he read that letter.

      Peace be with you my friend and mentor

      John

      John Sterling

      26 Palm Ave
      Woodland, CA 95695
      530 908-3836
      jsterling@...

      www.sterlingbirds.com (photos, classes, tours, county birding)
    • Deren Ross
      John and All, Thank you for sharing the wonderful stories about Rich and please keep them coming. I never got the chance to meet him and I m saddened for that
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 20, 2012
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        John and All,

        Thank you for sharing the wonderful stories about Rich and please keep them coming. I never got the chance to meet him and I'm saddened for that and for the loss to his family and friends and the entire birding community.

        Care Well, Bird Well, and Live Well,

        Deren Ross
        Auburn, CA
        Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

        -----Original Message-----
        From: John Sterling <jsterling@...>
        Sender: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 14:50:02
        To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups. com<CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>; Northbaybirds@Yahoogroups. Com<northbaybirds@yahoogroups.com>; willow_marten<gracefire613@...>
        Cc: Jeffrey Gordon<jeffgyr@...>; Jeff Bouton<jbouton2@...>; Sage Sterling<catsrule1203@...>; Lydia Sterling<littlekittenmonster@...>; Amy Wilson<alwilson@...>; margaret sterling<Bogeymogie@...>
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] Stallcup, the Great Spirit

        I heard the news about Rich while looking for birds in the town of Smith River during the Del Norte CBC on Sunday. Todd Easterla got the phone call and relayed the news to me as we stood in the rain looking for rare warblers and orioles. Todd and I spent the rest of the day and Monday birding and sharing stories about Rich. Todd was especially fond of the moment last year at the Pt Reyes CBC compilation dinner when Rich motioned that Todd was to sit next to him. Todd felt honored by the privilege. I also felt honored to be in Rich's presence every time from the moment that I met him in 1973 on an epic journey to Arizona for two weeks. I was only 13 years old at the time, but Rich mentored me on the trip and I was awestruck. He quickly become my idol. I have a photo of him that I took while we were preparing to camp at Sonoita Creek. I've had that photo taped to a wall in my house ever since.

        He meant so much more to me than being a role model as a birder. He was a cultural icon who transcended mere birding in his influence. While at Mono Lake in 1976, he facilitated my rite of passage into adulthood by chanting at dusk while we meditated at the "Fountain of Youth" spring. It was a spiritual awakening for me (an awakening to the spiritual and magical world of nature), and 12 years later during a celebration at Mono Lake, I told Rich about what that evening meant to me. He gave me a great big bear hug and I could see in his eyes that he know exactly what I had experienced as private as it was. As a birding mentor, he encouraged me to lead and sent short notes encouraging or congratulating me....these notes were precious and kept me going during my teen and college years. On that same trip in 1976, I told him that I wanted to do a state Big Year in 1977 as it was during my junior and the beginning of my senior years in high school. He asked me what my goal was...I told him 350 species. This would mean that I would have to get to every area of the state, see most if not all of the regular breeding and wintering species with a few vagrants added to the mix. Rich flatly told me that 350 would not be acceptable and that I had to get to 400 (which I did on the last day of the year). His response was a challenge for me to think "bigger". I took on that challenge primarily because he gave it to me and I didn't want to let him down.

        Although birds, bugs, herps, plants etc were very important to Rich, the time when I saw him at his most glorious self was when Dick Erickson and I drove down from Humboldt County in the fall of 1980 to meet his newborn daughter, Willow. Rich glowed with excitement. Many years later, I heard that same excitement in his voice when I spoke with him on the phone and he told me about his new grandchild.

        About two years ago, I wrote Rich a long letter describing how much of a positive influence he had on my life. His reply was "this is great stuff". I am so grateful that he read that letter.

        Peace be with you my friend and mentor

        John

        John Sterling

        26 Palm Ave
        Woodland, CA 95695
        530 908-3836
        jsterling@...

        www.sterlingbirds.com (photos, classes, tours, county birding)





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • wildlightphoto@earthlink.net
        I first met Rich in Denali National Park where I was working when he was scouting for a trip. I next ran into him at Big Bend when he was, again, scouting for
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 20, 2012
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          I first met Rich in Denali National Park where I was working when he was
          scouting for a trip. I next ran into him at Big Bend when he was, again,
          scouting for a trip. The third time was in Monterey; initially we walked
          past each other, then we both spun around and said "Hey, I know you!".

          It was almost like a game, where would we meet again? The last time was on
          Hawk Hill. Peace and new birds, Rich.

          Doug Herr
          Orangevale, Sacramento County
          http://www.wildlightphoto.com

          Original Message:
          -----------------
          From: John Sterling jsterling@...
          Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 14:50:02 -0800
          To: jeffgyr@..., jbouton2@..., catsrule1203@...,
          littlekittenmonster@..., alwilson@..., Bogeymogie@...,
          CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com, northbaybirds@yahoogroups.com,
          gracefire613@...
          Subject: [CALBIRDS] Stallcup, the Great Spirit


          I heard the news about Rich while looking for birds in the town of Smith
          River during the Del Norte CBC on Sunday. Todd Easterla got the phone call
          and relayed the news to me as we stood in the rain looking for rare
          warblers and orioles. Todd and I spent the rest of the day and Monday
          birding and sharing stories about Rich. Todd was especially fond of the
          moment last year at the Pt Reyes CBC compilation dinner when Rich motioned
          that Todd was to sit next to him. Todd felt honored by the privilege. I
          also felt honored to be in Rich's presence every time from the moment that
          I met him in 1973 on an epic journey to Arizona for two weeks. I was only
          13 years old at the time, but Rich mentored me on the trip and I was
          awestruck. He quickly become my idol. I have a photo of him that I took
          while we were preparing to camp at Sonoita Creek. I've had that photo
          taped to a wall in my house ever since.

          He meant so much more to me than being a role model as a birder. He was a
          cultural icon who transcended mere birding in his influence. While at Mono
          Lake in 1976, he facilitated my rite of passage into adulthood by chanting
          at dusk while we meditated at the "Fountain of Youth" spring. It was a
          spiritual awakening for me (an awakening to the spiritual and magical world
          of nature), and 12 years later during a celebration at Mono Lake, I told
          Rich about what that evening meant to me. He gave me a great big bear hug
          and I could see in his eyes that he know exactly what I had experienced as
          private as it was. As a birding mentor, he encouraged me to lead and sent
          short notes encouraging or congratulating me....these notes were precious
          and kept me going during my teen and college years. On that same trip in
          1976, I told him that I wanted to do a state Big Year in 1977 as it was
          during my junior and the beginning of my senior years in high school. He
          asked me what my goal was...I told him 350 species. This would mean that I
          would have to get to every area of the state, see most if not all of the
          regular breeding and wintering species with a few vagrants added to the
          mix. Rich flatly told me that 350 would not be acceptable and that I had
          to get to 400 (which I did on the last day of the year). His response was
          a challenge for me to think "bigger". I took on that challenge primarily
          because he gave it to me and I didn't want to let him down.

          Although birds, bugs, herps, plants etc were very important to Rich, the
          time when I saw him at his most glorious self was when Dick Erickson and I
          drove down from Humboldt County in the fall of 1980 to meet his newborn
          daughter, Willow. Rich glowed with excitement. Many years later, I heard
          that same excitement in his voice when I spoke with him on the phone and he
          told me about his new grandchild.

          About two years ago, I wrote Rich a long letter describing how much of a
          positive influence he had on my life. His reply was "this is great stuff".
          I am so grateful that he read that letter.

          Peace be with you my friend and mentor

          John

          John Sterling

          26 Palm Ave
          Woodland, CA 95695
          530 908-3836
          jsterling@...

          www.sterlingbirds.com (photos, classes, tours, county birding)




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