Well, here are my 8 random facts that you never dared to ask because you never thought you'd like to know but now and thanks to Larry the Brownstone Birder, there is nothing you can do about it:
1. If I had become a forester, I would have been the 8th generation in my family in a row to take up this profession. My father nurtured a deep interest in forests and it looked pretty good for the largest part of my youth until I realized my dad had ignited such a deep love and respect for forests and trees in me that I would never, ever be able to have an old-growth tree cut down for profit. The most annoying sound to me is a chainsaw and I think it was the worst invention ever, even surpassing atomic bombs and butterfinger chocolate bars.
It is my strong belief that one should technically only be able to cut down a tree in the same time it took that particular tree to grow, just so that people appreciate what it is they are destroying and how long it will take that wound to heal!
I therefore studied Biology, which in my opinion is close enough to keep me from being stigmatized as a family traitor.
2. During my late high school years I was a member of our school's theater group and my acting abilities apparently weren't too shabby. I still have a few video tapes of the plays we performed and the whole idea of moving to the US for a while was to accidentally drop them in front of Steven Spielberg's house, become a Hollywood star and eventually the richest birder on this planet. I am still working on that.
3. I hope Bill Gates is no birder, or I'll have a hard time acting...
4. During my high school years I was also a member of a rock band. I used to be the singer until we found someone else who could actually sing and so I ended up playing the bass guitar because no one likes to play the bass guitar unless he's a singer who got kicked out of his position but still wants to remain in the band. I was - of course - also birding at the time and wanted to spend two weeks in late May/early June at the Varanger peninsular of Northern Norway. We had a gig planned just days after my return and the other band members demanded I step back from my trip plans. No way, and so I took my notes and bass guitar with me and practised each day at the camp fire up on the Norwegian coast, surrounded by Arctic Terns and King Eiders, with gloves. The gig went well, but I later decided life was about getting your priorities straight and stopped my musical career. What remained however is that I am incredibly fond of the bass guitar / drums section of songs which explains why Iron Maiden rules. Harris and McBrain, they rule big time.
5. As a Master's thesis, I studied the ecology of a Mountain Zebra population close to the Fish River Canyon in Southern Namibia and had an area of 600 square kilometres all to myself. Empty: no roads, no inhabitants, just one small building for me to seek shelter in, but plenty of the most fascinating rugged desert canyon landscape anyone could possibly imagine. The most incredible experience of my life. Times like these make riding a bus in metropolitan areas quite stressful though.
6. After a long day's birding, nothing surpasses a large piece or two of chocolate and a glass of milk, both right out of the fridge. Sorry, my dear American readers, I meant chocolate, not Hershey's...
7. As a baby I had disproportionately large ears. They luckily didn't grow as much as the rest of my body so that it was soon mended, but I noticed lately that I am starting to have disproportionately little hair on my head...
8. My all time favourite bird species is the Bearded Vulture. When I was a kid and got my first "real" field guide that you could also use away from a feeder, I was fascinated by this huge bird with a falcon's silhouette. Back then my parents traveled widely with me around the Mediterranean and all I wanted to see was a Bearded Vulture. In the course of these travels over quite a few years, I saw all the vulture species of the area, including Lapped-faced Vultures in Israel just before they went extinct, but had to wait until a birding trip to Spain with two birding pals in 1995 to finally get my first Bearded Vulture. Well worth the wait, and even though I now have around 1.300 species on my life list, only one came (very) close to the Bearded Vulture, and that is the New Zealand Fantail.
Okay, these were the 8 random things about me you struggled so hard never to learn. As everyone has apparently already been tagged, I won't list other blogs right now but if I come across one or two in the next few days, I'll make sure they won't escape!