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Dick Peake

peake-2Dick has been an active field ornithologist for over fifty years. He began his birding early in Chesapeake, Virginia. When he was 11 years old, his fifth grade school teacher started a junior Audubon Club in her class. Two years later, Peake persuaded his parents to buy him a pair of WWII army surplus 6×30 binoculars. Imagine his excitement when one of the first birds he found in his neighborhood was a Western Kingbird.

At the University of Virginia, his roommate Renwick Kerr and Dick spent more time birding than studying for classes. The result was a good bird list for that year, and the opportunity for Dick to work his way to the West Coast delivering samples door to door, an excellent way to see birds as well as earn money to replace his lost scholarship money. Back home and attending Old Dominion University for a semester, Dick made his first significant contribution to Virginia ornithology by finding a group of Lincoln’s Sparrows wintering in Tidewater Virginia, a find that led to his first article in the Virginia Society of Ornithology’s publication The Raven.

Returning to the University of Virginia, Dick took a BA and MA in English. He then taught at Clemson University, the University of Georgia, and Western Carolina University, all the while continuing his birding activities. After taking a Ph.D. in English at the University of Georgia, he became Chair of the Department of English at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia, a post that he held (with a few years off) for thirty years. During that time he was active in the Virginia Society of Ornithology and served as a member of its governing board, its records committee, and its President.

From 1991-1996 he was compiler of the Wise County, Virginia, Christmas Bird Count. After retirement in 1998, he began spending much of his time in Galveston, Texas. He became co-compiler of the Freeport Christmas Bird Count, a post he has just relinquished, and for the last four years he has been teaching a birding class in UTMB’s Lifelong Learning program.

Though not primarily a “lister,” he has an ABA list of well over 700 and a world list of 4500 species. He is a life member of the AOU, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Carolina Bird Club, the Houston Audubon Society, KOS, TOS (both Tennessee and Texas), VSO, and the Wilson Ornithological Society. Now Professor Emeritus of English, Dick gives illustrated bird programs and does occasional volunteer and professional birding tours in Texas and Virginia.

Upcoming Events

April 2018
April 20 @ 6:30 am - 3:00 pm

Have you ever wondered what the Texas Birding Classic, Birdathon and birding competitions are all about? Here’s your chance to have that experience! Local birders will lead you to their best, secret Galveston County birding locations where participants will spot, listen, locate, describe, identify, verify, agree, record, and count as many feathered species as possible within an 8-hour period. The goal of the group will be to find more bird species than the previous high number for this trip, which…

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April 21 @ 6:00 am - 2:00 pm

Birding Bolivar is Dick Peake’s favorite local event! Guests will explore various habitats on the peninsula, e.g., sand flats, grassy prairies, jetties, tidal sloughs, wooded lots, and Fort Travis. The Bolivar sand flats area is known as one of the finest migratory locations in North America for shorebirds, terns, herons, egrets and other water birds. It is a designated habitat for the protection of the endangered, wintering Piping Plover. Targets: Expect to see at least 80 – 100 species! For…

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April 22 @ 7:45 am - 12:45 pm

Galveston is a Gulf coastal island renowned for its many habitats. On the Gulf beaches, you’ll scan out on the swells and incoming surf for rafts of waterfowl and seabirds. Walking along the beach the edge of the surf is active with the antics of the island’s year-round and migrating peeps, Reddish and Great blue herons and shorebirds foraging on “what the tide brung-in.” Away from the water among the dunes of San Luis Pass, East Beach and GISP Savannah and Horned lark flit about. Beyond the dunes are briny ponds holding roosting seabirds, Nelson’s and Seaside sparrow, rails, coots and water birds. In the Bay and tidal marshes migrating and nesting herons, egrets and cormorant in their breeding best, forage. The avian fauna is always in flux with the advance and retreat of the tide moving the food chain in and out. Among the tidally influenced habits and the open coastal prairies and oak mottes migrating songbirds need to refuel and find fresh water.

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