If you have been to past ABA conventions or many US birding festivals, or if you enjoy bird photos, or if you’ve attended ABA Young birding camps… hopefully you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bill Schmoker. The smile is real and ever present and he is one of the most positive people one can hope to meet. A joy to be around, Bill loves every aspect of the natural world, and I’m proud to call him a friend!
Bill puts his passion and enthusiasm to work daily as a middle school Earth Science teacher in Boulder, Colorado and we at Leica are extremely fortunate that he has been a life long fan of our products and brand, and uses personal vacation time to join us at a handful of festivals to assist in guiding and at the booth each year. In addition, he serves as a mentor at the week long ABA Youth Birding camp held in Rocky Mountain National Park, Camp Colorado every summer. While many of the mentors can ramble on endlessly about the birds, Bill brings with him invaluable knowledge on tundra ecosystems, geology, botany and life history of all creatures we encounter really adding immensely to the experience.
Even if you have never met Bill personally, it would be near impossible to not run across some of his images, videos, digiscoping techniques, etc. in national birding magazines. on social media, and on all of the Leica Birding sites – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube… He is one of our most active Leica Birding Crew members and loves sharing his passion with others. He sent me the video above and stated, „I think this could be a new species for the V-lux camera life list!“ He’s right of course and those words have inspired me to create a new site which will be appearing soon.
Leica everyone on the Birding Crew, Bill is an insane birder with mad skills! Above, the team are the last ones still birding at last January’s Spacecoast Birding & Wildlife Festival in Florida. Despite starting with guiding at dawn then working the booth, our crew was still out scouring for one more bird long after all of the others had retreated in search of dinner! Shortly after attending this fest in January though, Bill contacted me at home and began apologizing that he wouldn’t be able to assist at other shows this year and that he was sorry to let the team down. At first, I was worried that someone in his lovely family was ill, so was relieved and so elated to discover that my friend, Bill, had been selected for the distinguished honor to join a National Geographic sponsored research expedition to the North Pole! Bill had applied for an opportunity for a teacher to join the historic Geotraces PolarTREC (Teachers & Researchers Exploring & Collaborating) team through an NSF grant and had won!
So on August 2nd, Bill began his daily journals on the PolarTREC website as he packed in preparation for his historic journey. Since then has been posting daily updates at the link above, all rife with interesting photos and details.
He arrived in Unalaska, on August 6, 2015 and boarded the US Coast Guard cutter „Healy“ here in Dutch Harbor of course grabbing a pic of a bird (the Rock Sandpiper above) near the docks before boarding the vessel!
The Healy will be Bill’s home for the next 2 months as they make their historic journey, so you can follow the daily journal updates, track the Healy’s position real time, and even see the view from the Healy live from the Healy AloftCon webcam which is updated every hour. Expect to see a lot of water at most times but scenery as they approach shore and the polar ice sheet as well. You can see they will soon push North through the Bering Strait.
Life with Leica Birders is always an adventure, so even when not able to join amazing expeditions like this ourselves, we can always experience them vicariously through our busy adventurers. Stay tuned for more adventures from Bill & team Leica – We are Birders / We are Leica!