|Birdwatching with Bubba
Well-known San Pedro resident, dive instructor and
bird "expert" Elbert Greer has finally compiled the first set of his many
stories into a new book, "Birdwatching with Bubba - A Guidebook to Birds of
This book is a wonderful collection of bird data
combined with vivid descriptions of the forest, jungle and wildlife found on
Ambergris Caye and on mainland Belize. Expeditions to areas like Bacalar Chico
National Park and Marine Reserve, the New River Lagoon in Lamanai and Crooked
Tree Wildlife Sanctuary to name a few, and numerous inland river trips have
provided the author with a multitude of tales and information. Each of Bubba's
recollections is deliciously entertaining and flow easily from the scientific
name of the specific bird to a picturesque explanation of their habitats and
habits. Almost as fascinating as the bird encounters, are Mr. Greer's
interactions with the island's human characters. Interesting individuals such as
Miss Celi from Holiday Hotel, Chico (the hotel's bartender), Lovely Rita,
Tequila Steve and Reverend Bill add charm and familiarity to the author's
Elbert Greer explains that he and
Bubba set out to write this book about birds almost ten years ago. Elbert was a
school teacher in the United States at a local college in Memphis, married and
living in midtown near the campus when he bought what was to be his future
co-author, a baby bird dog. Bubba, a very verbal black Labrador, turned out to
be a rather smart dog and, of course, the two of them became best friends.
Elbert explains, "Bubba seems to think I had a mid-life crisis-I tell myself I
just got bored; either way I ended up here, no wife, and talking to a confused
bird dog who thinks ornithology is his calling. I have become a Belizean citizen
and tour guide, taking tourists from the village diving on the barrier reef,
fishing, and bird watching in the jungle. It's a nice way to make a living."
Birdwatching with Bubba is a collection of the stories
Elbert and Bubba published over the years in the island's local newspaper, the
San Pedro Sun. The stories, a total of 120, are
printed as they were published in the "Birds of Belize" column and contain
information on 280 Belizean birds. Some are short stories about island life and
its variety of characters. The names of the locations are real, and exactly
where the book says they are. It is not a guidebook but if you wish to read it
as such, Elbert says he used all the bars and bartenders' correct names so "you
won't get lost!" His disclaimer reads, "This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons
(living or dead), events, or locales is entirely coincidental. We tried to make
all the bird information as accurate as possible, but that's not what
"Birdwatching with Bubba" is all about, as you will see."
The beginning chapters acquaint the reader with Bubba and Elbert's new home,
Ambergris Caye, Belize, formerly British Honduras. Bubba's birdwatching stories
begin with the "Big Bird of Belize," the Jabiru Stork. The chapter reads, "The
Jabiru is the largest flying bird in the Americas, standing over 5 1/2 feet tall
with a wingspan of over eight feet. It has long legs and a massive black bill.
Its head and neck are black and without feathers. At the base of its bare neck
is a broad red band of skin. Its plumage is entirely white. Some friends have
pointed out that a likeness of the Jabiru can be found printed on the Belize
100-dollar bill. After a few failed attempts and false starts, Bubba and I set
out to find a Jabiru nest on our own."
Bubba," mentions several more bird species in one, single selection which reads,
"Chachalaca crackled in the background. Blue-gray Tanagers, Tri-colored Heron, a
tree of Ani, a Green Kingfisher perching on a stick, two Gray-necked Wood Rails
hunting along the bank with little Ruddy Crakes mixing in their hunting ground,
two Red-billed Pigeons cooing from the tallest tree, a tree filled with
yellow-colored Parrots, and a variety of hawks soared above on rocking wings,
casting hunting eyes downward. I turned slowly to study four Boat-billed Heron
perched on a dead tree leaning in the lagoon."
Elbert Greer considers himself a lucky man and readers
will too as they peruse passages such as the following in his summary. "I've
built myself a little beach house on a small island in the Caribbean off the
coast of Belize. It sits overlooking the barrier reef in the middle of two acres
of coconut trees. I purchased the land from a coconut farmer. The older Mestizos
in the village on the other side of the island call it a cocal. There is a river
without a bridge between my end of the island and the village, with little more
than a beach path for six miles to reach my cocal. Bubba and I come and go by
boat along the reef. It's a fine boat; 23 feet of fiberglass with a good engine.
In a way it is my car. I keep it at my dock on the Caribbean side where we fish
and nap in the hammock under the palapa."
with Bubba" is delightful reading-whether you are an avid birdwatcher or not!
Elbert Greer's (and Bubba's) adventures will soon be available on the Internet
(for $18.69US) at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and also Xlibris.com book store
sites. For those in a hurry, it was noted that Xlibris.com seems to process
orders faster (and gains the author added royalties!). Eager consumers may phone
in orders by calling the US at 1-888-795-4274, option 5, or by faxing (215)
923-4685. Additionally, this "literary masterpiece" will (hopefully, someday!)
be for sale in island gift shops and mainland Belize book stores. In the
meantime, the impatient and curious may view excerpts of the book on the
worldwide web at www.xlibris.com/BirdwatchingwithBubba.html.