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Open Mic: Meet the Willettes!

At the Mic: Diane Yorgason-Quinn and 11 other Willettes 

Back in 1996, one of my birding buddies said to me, “You should go to this ABA convention in Park City, Utah, so you can report back to the rest of us what these events are like.”  The two of us were part of a 4-person birding group who were just realizing we WERE a group at that time. I went to Utah and fairly gushed about ABA when I returned. It was agreed that we should do this sometime! So in 1999 we all went to ABA Tucson and scored big in the lifers! We were so thrilled, we immediately planned ABA-Colorado for 2000, where the same thing happened! And many more! One highlight was in Maine in 2006 when local TV media spotted us with an ABA group and interviewed one of us, Faye McAdams Hands, on TV!

The Willettes in Colorado, 2000

The Willettes in Colorado, 2000

We have been to multiple ABA events (up to 10 for several of us) and were thrilled to join ABA again in 2015 for the Port Angeles portion of the rally in our home state, possibly the best birding state in the country outside of Texas, Arizona, and Alaska. We hear rumors of another good rally in 2016, and we have the new ABA Green Heron shirts to wear to it!  Yes, matching shirts will help you pick us out! You can also pick us out on the road with our WLETTE license plates!

The Willettes in Snowbird, Utah, 1996

The Willettes in Snowbird, Utah, 1996

We all met in bird classes starting in 1990 sponsored by the Tahoma Audubon Society, and the first four of us went on to become Master Birders. Our numbers have now swelled to 11-plus, so there’s always someone to go birding with! Eight of us live in western Washington, and four of our number are in the Santa Rosa area of California as well. Many of us lead field trips for bird festivals, Tahoma Audubon Society, and the Washington Ornithological Society.  We got our name during our first exciting trip to Texas in 1997 when we puzzled over many new large shorebirds, only to have most of them morph into Willets upon take-off, becoming our leitmotif for that trip, complete with our girl-group choreography.

The Willettes in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 2009

The Willettes in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 2009

It was great to be back with ABA in September! We missed a few old friends, though, Jean & Bill Hough, George Zepko, Don Tucker from Maine, Jane & Tyler Bell, and most of all Nancy Hawley. We enjoyed meeting new friends whom we hope will become old friends, too. A special thanks to George Armistead who tailored a special package for us for this rally.

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Diane Yorgenson-Quinn is a Tahoma Audubon Society master birder and lives in Gig Harbor, Washington