[Mnbird] Birding with Bob Janssen

John Hockema jhockema at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 18 21:47:44 CDT 2019

Greetings All:

You know, I can't remember the last time I wrote something to post on mnbird.  A sign of the times perhaps or a sign of changes in me, but what hasn't changed is my love for birds, birders, and birding.  In 2014, my childhood friend of rural Spring Valley, Darin Ness, sent me a photo of a Summer Tanager.  That bird was Bob Janssen's 225th species in Fillmore County, a moment shared with he and Dave Cahlander in the very township where my birding began.  My mentor was the late Dr. Alden F. Risser and I once wrote on this very same listserve about the impact that he had on my life.

My very first memory of Bob Janssen was over the telephone.  I was an awkward teenage birder with tons of novice questions for an already legendary birder operating a birding hotline.  The voice on the other end of the line always had time for me, was patient and kind, and eventually helped unravel the mystery of this strange bird heard calling from my grandparents' farm which turned out to be my very first Upland Sandpiper.

Many years later, I became involved with North House Folk School in Grand Marais, where Bob and I were both instructors.  I fondly recall co-leading a trip with Bob; assisting us was the wonderfully jubilant Josh Watson who remains a birder to this day, and both he and Bob will be guiding together at North House Folk School this very June.  It's been those relationships, from my adolescence on, that inspired me to call Bob sometime during the summer of 2017.

I called Bob and told him I wanted to help him get his last six counties to 225.  I'm not sure I ever got to tell Dr. Risser how much he had impacted my life and help build my identity as a young man.  I think that reaching out to Bob somehow helped me do that.  The journey that began in Cass County with Alex Burchard, Shawn Conrad, Becca Engdahl, Chris Hockema, Bob Janssen, and Josh Watson has also shaped my life.  These fine friends played huge roles in helping Bob reach 225 in Red Lake and Wadena counties; and with Kimberly Emerson in Koochiching, and this amazing trip to Rock County, where her planning was key to the trip's success!

I told the group in an emotional speech last Saturday night that I was so proud of the way that the group reacted after Bob relished that view of the avocet.  It was with joy that we embraced a man who has given us all a life of "good birding."

I wish that to all of you....

John Hockema
Rochester, MN

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