HSV Audubon has a new Bluebird Trails informational sign at the entrance to Grove Park, as a tribute to long-time Audubon supporter Les Daniels.
Les was Bluebird Program Chair (or Co-Chair) for 19 years. In addition, Les was one of the Crew Leaders that built the Magellan Beaver Dam Trail, led the team to design and build the Birding blind on that trail, and was the Leader of the “South” Christmas Bird Count group for several years.
Les received the 2008 President's Award
The following was written by Carolyn Minson when Les received this award.
Members of Hot Springs Village Audubon Society are pleased to be honoring Les Daniels with the 2008 President’s Award.
Carolyn and Les Daniels moved to Hot Springs Village in December of 1993 from Dallas, Texas. Prior to coming here they moved several times during his 36 years with Mobil Oil, including assignments in New York City and Calgary, Canada. Les earned a BS in Chemical Engineering and followed that with a MBA.
Les reports that friends in Dallas encouraged them to visit Hot Springs Village. As Les approached retirement time, he and Carolyn finally made a weekend visit. They obviously liked what they saw because they bought a house during their second visit.
Before moving to the Village Les and Carolyn’s bird watching was very casual, mainly just feeding and watching birds in their yard. Neither of them had been involved with Audubon, nor had they taken bird watching trips. About two months after arriving, they read a notice about Lou Leonatti's Birding Course. After attending Lou’s classes, they were hooked. Les began bluebird monitoring in March of 1994 while Wayne Tice and C.D. Miller were Co-chairmen of the Blue Bird Monitoring Program. Then in 1995 Les became a Co-Chairman with Wayne, C.D., and Bob Swanson. Bob and Les took over the monitoring program in 1996. Bob moved away in 1998, and then Wayne left Hot Springs Village in 1999. Since that time, Les has continued to coordinate the entire Bluebird Monitoring program by himself even though the number of monitors and Bluebird boxes has almost doubled.
Les states that the most satisfying part of our Bluebird program is helping to increase the number of Bluebirds in the Village, introducing new people to the beauty of Bluebirds, and involving them in feeding, sheltering, and monitoring Bluebirds. Les finds pleasure in recruiting new monitors and seeing the enjoyment they get from the experience. He reports that the most challenging part is keeping up with the paperwork and recordkeeping of our growing program. Bluebird fledglings have increased from 545 in 1993 to 1306 in 2007. Monitors and backup monitors increased from 24 to 41, and Bluebird boxes monitored increased from 162 to 291 over the same period.
The only negative experience Les has had with the Bluebird program is the unprecedented deaths of Bluebird babies this past spring. Not being able to find reports of similar incidents in the past in Arkansas or other states was frustrating. The birding experts in Audubon and other organizations were stumped. Fortunately, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission arranged for testing of some of the dead babies at a Laboratory in Wisconsin. Although they concluded that bites from Buffalo Gnats caused the deaths, no one has come up with measures to prevent future recurrences.
In addition to his role with Audubon, Les is an active tennis player, a tennis team captain, and coordinator of one of the year-round HSV weekly tennis leagues. Les also enjoys an occasional golf game. He has been active as a founding member of Community of Joy Lutheran Church, where he is presently Vice President and Chairman of the Finance Committee.