[Tweeters] Patrick, Our Collective Loss

Gina Sheridan gsherida8502 at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 24 18:11:16 PDT 2007

After hearing the tragic news, I have been
experiencing plenty of episodes of Niagara Falls of
the eyes syndrome. On a personal level, I feel
emotionally overwrought, and I think that the entire
birding community is reeling from a great sense of

With so many eloquent words that have already been
expressed on remembrances of Patrick, it still seems
that we have barely scratched the surface. Each
personal memory that is related through Tweeters is
one more golden moment to share with each other and to

Speaking for myself, I feel that the mainspring of
field birding in the Pacific Northwest has been
removed from our midst. With the loss of Patrick, we
have lost a tremendous resource as he was indeed a
field trip leader nonpareil. We will also miss
Patrick's frequent and excellent trip summaries as
well as his indefatigable zeal in the discovery and
sharing of rare birds.

Most of the birder community of the Northwest (and
many from around the continent) have personally
benefited from the Sullivans discovery and careful
tracking of rarities. Many of us have been aided by
critical info that the Sullivans provided (in my case
Ruth gave me the tide table and encouragement to make
my third and finally successful attempt for the
Black-tailed Gull that they had tracked), or arrived
at a stake out hosted by the Sullivans who were
issuing precise directions and even lending a scope
for visiting birders to see a desired rarity (i.e.
Temminck's Stint).

As others have mentioned, Patrick never tired of
identifying any new bird that happened upon the scene.
If everyone was scoping a Barrow's Goldeneye on a
river, Patrick would not fail to detect and mention a
Horned Lark flying overhead, or a Red Crossbill
calling from a distant woodlot. 

Here is but one example of Patrick's extraordinary
talent. Last fall at the Sprague Lake Resort, Patrick
quickly ID'd and called out a Blackpoll Warbler within
a wave of Yellow-rumps that were moving rapidly
through a hedgerow. Within the short time span that
the bird was visible, Patrick managed not only to put
everyone in our party on the bird, but he even managed
to photograph it! Amazing!

Since I have had the distinct privilege to have birded
with the Sullivans on both WOS field trips and chance
encounters at various birding hot spots, I would say
that I loved every moment of sharing info, viewing
great birds together, or simply watching Patrick doing
what he did best. Whether we were scoping a Gryfalcon
together on the frozen Waterville Plateau, searching
for migrants along the nettle-lined trails in
Washtucna, or simply sharing stories on a beach on the
outer coast, it was always pleasure to see Patrick's
smile and hear his soft spoken voice.

My sincerest condolences go out to Ruth and to
everyone else who is experiencing the tremendous sense
of loss with regards to the passing of our dear friend

Gina Sheridan
Spokane, WA

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