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Bird-watchers celebrate three decades together

DEL MAR —Among the members of the Friday Morning Birding & Gourmet Society, better known as the “Tweet ‘n’ Eat” and occasionally the “Chirp & Burp,” are Ann Dempsey, of Del Mar, and Peg Yount of Solana Beach.
“Thirty years ago, most of us were married and raising children. Now we are made up of 11 old women, one old man and three daughters, with most of us between the ages of 70 and 84,” said member Joann Mockbee. “Oh, the changes we’ve seen.”
“We’ve seen new species come to the county and others almost vanish,” she said.
The group has seen development expand and the numbers of birds decline. In 1984, the members watched the last handful of California Condors soar free before they were captured for a breeding program.
Most of the 30 years, the group numbered about 15, with a consistent core group. Nine of the original members have died and four are now inactive due to disabilities.
The current group meets in June and plans the year’s monthly outings around the county followed by lunch. These monthly birding trips around the county often expand to include annual trips to “hot spots” around the U.S. and the world. These traditions have continued to this day, and its extensive scrapbooks document the “then and now” of the adventures.
For the entire 30 years, the group has participated in the Audobon Society’s nationwide Christmas Bird Count. Its responsibility has been central Balboa Park, where they have identified and counted the numbers of species they find from sunrise until dark.