At the end of each summer and winter I’d get an email from Noel announcing the coming of another migration season. These would continue through the spring and fall, during which we would both announce to the other how “awesome” the flight was on a given night. Noel used to run a website called Badbirdz.com, where he would post the nightly radar loops from Key West where you could see the birds migrating across the Florida straits, to and from Cuba. It was these images that got me hooked on radar ornithology six years ago while living in South Florida, and it was Noel’s dry sense of humor conveyed through his regular emails that kept me laughing, knowing that at least someone else was getting up in the wee hours of the morning to download radar images to try and elucidate some of the mysteries (or at least appease our own curiosities) of nocturnal migration. Noel was fascinated by migration, and aside from his radar analyses, would regularly post of his seawatches off of Jacksonville beach to the Floridabirds email list. For someone whom I never actually met in person, I feel a terrible loss today knowing I never will. Just last week we were emailing and I said we should go down to Cuba to see the migration from the “other end” of the radar. I have to think that right now he’s sitting on a beach on the north coast of Cuba, with a mojito in hand, cursing at the north winds to switch around and unleash a torrent of warblers across the Straits of Florida. Damn Noel, you beat me to it. You will be missed.
From Noel’s current website, badbirdz.wordpress.com:
I am a grumpy old man who lives in northeast Florida. I have a major interest in birds, especially tracking migration using weather radars. Politically I am a godless liberal, placing me in the most oppressed minority in the world (4.7 percent of the population).
Update: Noel’s obituary and guestbook is located here: http://www.legacy.com/TimesUnion/DeathNotices.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonID=86905333