“A grand adventure, not just for birders
and nature lovers.” Kirkus Reviews
In the fall of 2004 I began a seven thousand mile trip following
ospreys from Cape Cod to the mountains of Cuba, then down to
Venezuela and back the next spring.
I did this for many reasons—not the least of which was
that I planned on writing a book about it—but when I
began I couldn’t have imagined how exhilarating, wild,
and just plain fun the experience would prove.
At that point I had studied the birds at their home nests
on Cape Cod for years, but that fall, driven in part by
myself suddenly uprooted and living in North Carolina, I
decided to fly to the Cape and then head south with the
birds to see
where they went when they left their nests. The resulting
book is about the exhilaration of migration—a great annual
exercise in exuberance in the animal world—but also about
the uncertainty and risk inherent in all our migrations.
Here’s is some of the stuff I found along the way:
*On Long Island I spent a day with a group of virtual birders
who spend their time watching real time footage at a nest in
a kind of Real World with Ospreys.
*At Hawk Moutain, PA, I encountered some of the country’s
best hawk watchers—folks who wield their binoculars like
six-shooters--and all-around great storyteller/ornithologist
*At Cape May I spent 24 hours with the hawkwatch interns,
including the charismatic 24 year old Jason Starfire, who tragically
died in the summer of 2005.
*In Cuba, where according to the government I traveled illegally
(despite the fact I was there for journalistic reasons), I
hiked up to the top of la Gran Piedra (the big rock) with local
ornithologist Freddy Santana Rodriguez, and we watched a river
of ospreys migrate toward Guatanamo Bay.
* In Venezuela, Adrian Navez guided us through machine gun
security blocks to see more ospreys than we’d ever imagined
Of course part of the reason for this website is to promote
the book and in the slim hopes you will actually go out and
But another reason for this site’s existence is that
there was a whole lot of the year that I couldn’t cram
into the book. For instance I have cartoons I drew of the people
I met along the way that didn’t fit the tone of the book.
Also pictures, most of them by my literary sidekick and great
drinker/eater/friend, Mark Honerkamp. Oh, and maps, too, one
of which will appear when the book comes out but most of which
So. This site is about the book but it is also about ospreys
and how you can find inner peace and be happy (and thin and
famous) by following ospreys…..
An irreverent, absorbing, and insightful tale of one
adventures following the great 7,000-mile osprey migration across
" Gessner's rollicking road-trip account of
21st Century hawkwatching captures the essence of both migrating
and the mixed bag of people who track them. Equal doses of
Jack Kerouac and Roger Tory Peterson promise to enshrine Soaring
with Fidel in the pantheon of great travel writing and natural
--Keith Bildstein, author of Migrating Raptors of the
of its robust passion and focus, this book would have
probably been a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt's. Reading
SOARING WITH FIDEL, I traveled to bars, houses below palm trees,
mountain tops, lakes, oceans, seedy hotels--and then home again.
But so much more is going on: Gessner is not just following
an obsession--he is eloquently exploring and explaining 'levels
deeper than memory.'"
--Clyde Edgerton, author of Lunch at the Picadilly