On Tuesday, I went to visit an old friend. He and I went on many birding field trips together. We went to Amhearst Island in the winter to look for owls. It was a very successful trip. Lots of owls. Very memorable was seeing numerous Short-eared Owls sitting on the ice flows that we saw from our boat on the way back from the island. Something I will never forget. Another trip was organized by the Ontario Field Ornithologists. It was a trip to Moosonee in northern Ontario. Alan Wormington was the trip leader. There were only about 7 people on that trip. It was a blast. We explored Shipsands Island. I remember sitting around our hotel room in the evening, drinking beer, talking about the events of the day and putting together our day’s bird list.
My friend, Doug Miller, and I went on lots of other bird outings. Believe it or not, Doug started birding in the 1930’s. He was from Toronto and knew many of the early, well-known birder’s. I have read a couple of memoirs of birder’s that mention Doug Miller, and some of the adventures that Doug and his cronies had in those early years.
Today, Doug does not do very much birding. His hearing is not good.and he uses a walker to get around. Yet, a few years ago, he was still participating in Christmas Bird Counts from a car in the Tobermory area where here lived for many years up until about three years ago, when he moved to a rest home in Sarnia. He moved to Sarnia to be closer to his sister. His sister passed away last summer.
I had not been in touch with Doug for about 25 years, I am ashamed to say. Many of his other birding friends from southwestern Ontario did stay in touch with him while he lived in Tobermory. Doug still has a very sharp mind and displays an amazing recollection of names, places and events. Puts me to shame. But we had a very good visit. Catching up on things. Talking about birds mostly, of course.
Doug Miller will be 99 years old in July. He is staying at the Vision Rest Home on Wellington Road, in Sarnia. Room #1.