ElderCollege: Where for the birds is OK

NANAIMO – Interesting year of courses at ElderCollege comes to an end.

  • May. 30, 2013 3:00 p.m.

By Marlene Robertson

There are so many things I love about this time of the year.

First and foremost, winter is over.

Yes, we did have a favourable winter, but those grey skies had to go – it was them or me.

Then the ever-faithful crocus gave us a splash of colour, followed by the happy yellow fellow, the daffodil and so on.

But I think what I love most is the singing of our fine feathered friends. I always forget how much I miss them in the winter until they start to waken me with their spring chatter, chirps and cheeky songs at the crack of dawn. What better way to wake up to a new day?

That’s one of the reasons I decided to sign up for one of the Vancouver Island University ElderCollege May semester ‘short courses’ – to learn the basics of bird watching.

The course presenter, Colin Bartlett and his Bird Store, is pretty well known in this area, and watching him identify birds by their song was worth the price of admission. I’m pretty sure I won’t live long enough to learn song identification, but its sure going to be fun trying.

Like a lot of people, I’ve purchased bird books over the years and took a stab at trying to identify the little devils, but it’s not as easy as I first thought it might be.

I’m sure this will not come as a surprise to anyone, but there are a lot of birds who look alike, so it takes keen powers of observation to figure it all out. And without help and guidance, it’s a daunting task.

In the end, I doubt that I will ever become a ‘rabid’ birder, searching the world for rare species, but I know I will get years of enjoyment by just trying to identify the birds in my own backyard. I think the May semester short courses are a great idea and hope they will be offered again next year.

Another outstanding program this season was the Saturday Speakers Series focussing on our health-care system.  How Healthy is our Healthcare System was one of the most up front looks at health care I’ve ever attended.

For the first time in my lifetime I actually heard doctors talking about the financial component of health care, why there’s a shortage of doctors and why there are so few general practitioners.

It was a six-week crash course on the good, bad and ugly of our health-care system and I applaud Larry Biccum, a VIU ElderCollege volunteer who put the entire program together. We’re always looking for volunteers with new ideas and if that happens to be you, please give us a call.

It’s been an exceptionally interesting and informative year at VIU ElderCollege, and I’m already anticipating the arrival of the fall-winter course catalogue. I hope you are too.

For more information and to register, please call 1-866-734-6252 or e-mail pqcampus@viu.ca.

Now where did I put my binoculars?