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BIRDS AS ART ON-LINE Bulletin #88 September  12, 2002

Request For Con$ervation Help; Typo; Best Buy on Compact Flash Cards and More.... By Paul D. Parisi; This One Made Me Cry


As I was finishing packing for Costa Rica, I checked my e-mail and found the one below.  Coincidentally, I will be visiting  Finca Lupita this weekend! 

Help is Needed for the Finca Lupita Bird Sanctuary in Cuidad Quesada, Costa Rica

An Urgent Plea from Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph  September 12, 2002

This is a message to my fellow conservation enthusiasts. I am looking to raise some emergency cash to help a friend of mine in Costa Rica who has been
rescuing injured Great Green Macaws for the last ten years, and who now has a successful breeding colony of them in Costa Rica. I want to tell you this
conservation story and also ask you for your help.

The Great Green Macaws are endangered parrots and the project that I am about to describe is a remarkable personal effort to save them from extinction. Tom Birmingham Armstrong is a US citizen and veteran USAF who has been living in Costa Rica for ten years, mostly on social security. He bought a former coffee plantation and began taking in injured birds and rehabilitating them back to the wild. After many months he also began to attract wild birds who were migrating across his property.

Tom is one of those unknown, unsung heroes in conservation and I feel privileged to know him. He is a very interesting guy, he was on the ground
support team for the first NASA shuttle mission in 1981, the Columbia. Upon his retirement from the National Aeronautical and Space Administration in the
late 80's he moved to Costa Rica where the US dollar stretches farther and that's when his attention turned to the plight of the Great Green Macaws. He
has been involved in conservation efforts on their behalf ever since. The birds in his care are 100% free and fly in and out of the property every
morning and evening.

The bad news is that Tom is dying and he doesn't have much longer to live.  He is on oxygen now and requires nightly nursing care, and he can no longer
spend time outside with the Macaws. He has limited family, none close by, and he is anxious about the future safety and well-being of his Great Green
colony, as he should be. He approached the Wild Spots Foundation to assist him.  I was just with Tom in mid-August at his farm, The Finca Lupita Bird
Sanctuary as he calls it.  I have been helping Dr. Barry Barker of the Wild Spots Foundation in Ft. Lauderdale to organize a transition of Tom's beloved
Macaw colony into protective, capable hands. We are working with an extended Costa Rica family in Tom's area who has been rescuing endangered
neotropical animals and birds of all kinds for more than 25 years. They have built a wonderful, expansive and well-managed zoo to house these animals and
they provide invaluable educational services to visiting Costa Rican citizens in the process.

We are working out the transition details now and feel certain that Juan Jose Rogas and his zoo will be able to continue Tom's breeding efforts with the
more vulnerable members of the existing colony of Great Greens in protected environs. This will provide relief for the Great Greens immediately upon
Tom's death until such time as the Wild Spots Foundation can take over the property and support it. and adequately protect it. This is wonderful opportunity for the Foundation for Tom's dilemma perfectly matches the Foundation's mission to save valuable habitats of endangered species which it does through photography, technology and education. The Foundation eventually plans to renovate the property to attract students,
photographers and researchers to Finca Lupita who will provide a revenue-generating base that will support the property and provide a firm
foundation for it for the future. Eventually the Foundation hopes to broadcast 24-hour, seven-day-a-week live webcams of endangered species and
related educational material to thousands of American school children.

Tom has never gotten any kind of public or conservation funding for his Great Green project, he has done it all on his own for all these years. Now that he
is in his last stages of life his money has almost run out. Indeed, last week, one of the night nursing providers took two checks from his checkbook and fraudulently withdrew $2,500 from Tom's account and absconded. Tom had just cashed in his last money market reserves of $6,000 a few days earlier
and this stolen amount was part of those precious reserves. You can see how precarious his resources are.  We are looking now for some emergency cash to refund Tom's stolen assets so that he can continue to care for the birds while he is still alive and while we are organizing the transition of the property. Tom has three long-time employees devoted to caring for his Sanctuary and these employees must be paid or they cannot continue to work there. The safety of the Great Greens and the other parrots depends heavily on them, and the Great Greens especially would be  vulnerable to the ravages of illegal wildlife traders who have a looming presence in that part of Costa Rica.

The Foundation, therefore, has determined that it immediately needs $36,000 to cover legal, employee and other urgent expenses to preserve and protect
the existing colony which includes 16 Great Green Macaws, numerous Scarlet Macaws, 4 Toucans, two dozen Amazon parrots, and approximately 100 other Costa Rican parrots, not to mention Finca Lupita's attraction to scores of other bird species that live in the adjacent rainforest.  Tom's property, Finca Lupita's 9.5 acres, is situated near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in the Cordillera de Guanacaste. Finca Lupita's close proximity to the Preserve makes it especially valuable as a migratory zone for parrots flying in and out of the Preserve. The Juan Jose Rogas property is also similarly situated. As a future research site it boasts unparalleled opportunity for studying Great Greens in the wild.

We need help in raising emergency funds at this time. You can send cash donations c/o The Wild Spots Foundation which is a US-based 501(c)3
foundation for tax purposes: The Wild Spots Foundation Dr. Barry W. Barker, President  757 SE 17th Street, #230 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida  33316
Tele/Fax: (954) 585-0707 Toll Free: (866) 363-2643  ATTENTION: FINCA LUPITA BIRD SANCTUARY, COSTA RICA, EMERGENCY RESCUE FUND  Those wishing to use will find a link at the bottom of the home page (link above).

Help us help the Great Greens, their future is limited without us.

Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph


Queens, New York.  On Sunday, August 24, 2003 "The Art of Nature Photography; It Ain't Just Birds," will be presented at the Ramada Adria Conference Center in Bayside, NY.   The cost of the seminar is $75.  There will be an In-The Field Workshop on Monday August 25, 2003. The fee for the I-T-F-Workshops is $225 (Limit 10  photographers.)  Note:  you must be signed up for the Sunday Seminar to attend the I-T-F Workshop.  

 I am also announcing here for the first time a Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Shorebird IPT August 27-29, 2003.  (3-day, $829).  Though this IPT is not yet posted on the web site, you may register by sending a $200 deposit (as above).   As many folks have been clamoring for me to do another IPT at JBWR, my "soul place," this one will likely fill quickly.


On a separate note, we have received many registrations for both the San Diego and the NYC events.  The JBWR IPT is more than half full already!  The three November Bosques are nearly filled, but the post-NANPA Bosque IPT, the post-Christmas SW FLA IPT, and the San Diego IPT all have room.  See the web site for details.  (The JBWR IPT may sell out before it makes the web site-see Bulletin 87 for info on this IPT. 


I met Paul, who makes a living as a computer programmer, at the Boston Photo Weekend. Though Paul is a beginning nature photographer, he is extremely knowledgeable as to the computer end of digital photography and has agreed to write for the Bulletin on a variety of related topics. Here is his first report:

What are the best Compact Flash Options available?  

Reliable media is critical to your digital picture taking experience. I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know what I feel are the best values for compact flash (CF) cards currently available. I recommend two types of CF cards; Transcend 512 MB 24X speed Cards and IBM Microdrives. The Transcend have performed exceptionally well and are currently the MB/$ value winner, an good value at only $214.99 each. Visit (Note from Artie:  If you contact Matt, please let him know that you learned of My Digital Discount through a BAA Bulletin; thanks.) I bought my cards from them and they were a pleasure to deal with.   (Another note from Artie: I bought four this week; the price has dropped!  You may be shocked to learn that on Monday I made more than 300 images with the Canon EOS 1D digital camera that Canon Pro Markets Rep Barbara Ellison so kindly loaned me for the Costa Rica trip.   I was thrilled with the camera and shall be sharing an image or two or more with you when I return from Costa Rica.)

You will find other brands at prices similar to the Transcend but these are typically much slower cards. I can legitimately say I see a performance difference on my 1D using the Transcend 25X cards versus the Microdrive. The difference is not as pronounced with the D30 or D60. The pricing mentioned above is typically cheaper than the slower 512MB cards so it really is a good deal. 

When I purchased my Canon D30, almost two years ago now, I bought an IBM 1GB Microdrive. This is also an excellent option for twice the amount of space at only around $30 more. However, you need to be aware that if you drop a Microdrive you most likely will lose all of the data on it. The Microdrive, as its name implies is just a micro-sized hard drive. As with any hard drive, it is very susceptible to impact and/or shock damage. Mind you this has not stopped me from still using it. Instead of buying a second one, I bought four 512MB Transcend cards. Also you should consider getting a wallet for your card storage. I bought a Hakuba Digital Media Storage Wallet (#DMSP-CF4) which can hold up 4 Compact Flash Cards from Adorama for under $10. I have five cards, one in the camera and 4 in the case. I put them in the case face up when they are empty and then turn them over once they are full. By the way, if you drop a solid state CF card, like the Transcend, most likely you will not lose anything. Unlike the Microdrive there are no moving parts. I should note that there are other good CF cards out there. None are remarkably better, but I chose the Transcend cards for many reasons and have been quite satisfied with them. 

In the field I had been carrying an IBM ThinkPad X Series laptop which is nice because it comes with a built in CF card reader. I would fill my cards and then boot up the laptop and download the cards to the hard drive in the computer. I recommend that you use Windows XP on your laptop as it has wonderful support for CF cards built in. If your laptop does not have a CF slot you can buy an inexpensive CF to PCCard adaptor, which allows you to insert the CF card into the laptops PCCard slot. This also works well. However, at a recent shoot, my brain was not fully engaged and I forgot my laptop and was rapidly filling up my cards. Stopping at the local photo store I was blessed that they had a Delkin PicturePad in stock so I bought it. At around $500 it is not cheap but it is a great device. I am just delighted with its performance. The model I bought has a 20GB hard drive in it and a color LCD screen on it. You insert your CF card into the slot on the device and push a button to copy all of the files to the PicturePad. Push another button to verify the files and then one more button to erase your CF card now that the files are in the PicturePad. You can, if you really want to, view your images on the 1.8 color screen, although I find this is not really practical. Once back at my computer, the PicturePad connects to my computer via the built-in USB port. The PicturePad comes with an internal rechargeable battery and all of the necessary cables. It also has the ability to connect to the video input on a television so you can review your images on much larger display. I have found that the unit does use up its batteries so you may want to consider a vehicle power inverter to charge the unit while you drive. Visit for more info. Using the PicturePad is much more efficient than waiting for my laptop to boot and then having to hassle with the mouse.  I am sure that these devices are going to come down in price rather rapidly so you may want to wait to purchase one, but, as with all technology purchases, be careful, you can find yourself waiting forever.


I would like to schedule a BIRDS AS ART/Art of Nature Photography Weekend in Atlanta, Georgia in the fall of 2003.  Anyone involved with local photography or natural history groups or with knowledge of good locations for nature photography in the Atlanta area are urged to contact me via e-mail.


As someone who at times in the past has been perceived as a loud-mouthed, overly opinionated boor, receiving the e-mail below put a big smile on my face and a tear of happiness in my eye.  (Though I received many thank yous for the "In Memoriam: image (that was of course a real photo, not a sandwich or a digital creation--I would have stated that clearly....) I would like to share this one special one with those of you who have bothered to read this far...

Mr. Morris,

 You must be a special person but how do I know?  I don't know you from Adam's cat. I've seen you on TV and I saw you from a distance at Ding Darling once. I met you once at your booth at NANPA last year but I did not know how to make conversation so asked some inane questions that you must've heard a thousand times.  Yet something comes through.  I see how you act around those you know and I see warmth.  I see you with your lady companion and I see warmth.  I think I even see it on TV.  But I certainly see it in your newsletters and especially this message.  This is how I know you must be a special person.

 I just wanted to say thanks.  Your sentiment is much appreciated by someone who aches to do what you do but who lacks the courage to simply plunge ahead and do it.  I have not given up though and you are an inspiration to me.  It's not very likely but maybe someday we'll meet in such a manner than I can get to know you better and learn even more.  Until then, I accept the "love to all" you sent and wish you much of the same.

 Be well,

John Reed



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