RICKY JOHNSON, ABACO NATURE GUIDE & ENTHUSIAST 1964-2013


Ricky Johnson, Abaco, Bahamas

FOR RICKY JOHNSON, ABACO NATURE GUIDE & ENTHUSIAST 1964-2013 

Ricky Johnson Bahama Palm Shores 1

No one who knew Ricky, or even merely met him, could doubt his charisma, his infectious enthusiasm for life, and for Abaco and its natural history. His Abaco Nature Tours were legendary. As non-islanders, we knew that a day out in Ricky’s company would be a hectic and memorable one. He knew where all the birds were to be found – and enticed the shy ones out of the coppice with his trademark calls. He was all-seeing and all-knowing – information about Abaco’s natural history, social history, geology, poisonous plants and bush medicine would stream from him irrepressibly throughout the day. Ask him a question? He’d know the answer. He seemed never so happy as when he spotted something and pulled the truck over, leaping out with the door open so all could hear his running commentary as he explained the properties of some small plant that most would have failed to notice. Accompanied, of course, by a gag and THAT laugh.


Ricky Johnson Bahama Palm Shores 3

In many ways, it is impertinent for occasional blow-ins to become involved in what is the island’s grief over Ricky’s tragically young passing. However in the short time we knew him – far too short – we both came to feel we had known him for many years. That was the Ricky effect. He was a joy to know, and we will remember him with joy as well as with sadness.

Ricky Johnson Pishing Woodstars Crossing Rocks Abaco

Land Crab : Ricky Johnson 2

ABACO LAND CRAB vs RICKY JOHNSON: ROUND 2 (VIDEO)


A few weeks back, I wrote a post called ‘LAND CRABS: HOW TO STALK & WRESTLE THEM. It features stills of famed Abaco nature guide Ricky Johnson in a face-off with a land crab at Bahama Palm Shores. I noted that the large, heavy claw of these crabs is in fact the less worrying one, being used to intimidate and to grip. It’s the small claw that you need to watch out for… 

I have now sorted out an annoying camera card v Mac format incompatibility problem (well, $30 of software has dealt with it. Dear Apple, please make friends with the Panasonic Lumix asap) and to my great surprise I find that I took a video of Ricky and a land crab that perfectly demonstrates the claw point. He did mess with the large claw, but he wisely left the small one well alone… 

The footage starts with Ricky’s trademark laugh to get you into the right spirit (it’s impossible to go on one of his Eco-Tours and not have fun while learning). The volume of the commentary drops off a bit halfway through. I haven’t found the gizmo for changing the audio during the video: it’s all or nothing, I’m afraid

If you want to find out more about Land Crabs on Abaco – including Hermit Crabs – you won’t do much better than to check out the comprehensive account by ‘Bob H’ on Yahoo! Answers ABACO LAND CRAB FACTS

Ricky the guide? Here he is in full-on enthusiastic guide mode, ‘pishing’ for male Bahama Woodstar hummingbirds in low open coppice near Crossing Rocks. He has just had a responding call and is keeping us quiet while he locates the bird

ADDENDUM Tragically in the second half of 2012 Ricky developed a horrible disease that spread rapidly and unstoppably. Within 6 months he was dead, not yet 50. His sad passing, and the cruel manner of it, made me wonder if I should take down some of the many posts in which he features. But he would not have wanted that, so I have left them unaltered. 

MUSICAL DIGRESSION

Those who braved the video may have wondered about the guitar chord at the beginning and end. A few – of a certain age – may have thought it familiar. One or two may have recognised it as the opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night (Beatles 1964). It is one of the most controversial and interesting chords in modern music, with more theories about its exact construction than you can shake a Rickenbacker 12-string at (as played by George Harrison). There have been more than a dozen claimed ‘correct’ chord  identities. According to Harrison, it is in fact simply an ‘F add 9′ chord augmented by Macca’s crucial 5th fret, A string ‘D’ on his Hofner bass. Trouble is, there are half a dozen ways to play ‘F add 9′ at various points on the neck, and most of them don’t sound quite right… But that’s enough about that. Anyone who wants to follow this musical meander further  - much further – should click HERE===>>> THAT CHORD

AN ABACO BIRDING EXPEDITION WITH RICKY JOHNSON (PART DEUX)


During our parrot observations, we had plenty of opportunity to see other birdlife. We were especially fortunate to be able to visit a large and very beautiful private garden on the shoreline at Bahama Palm Shores which Ricky showed us round; and to meet the benevolent owner who permits this intrusion. We saw between us a wide variety of birds in or near the garden, of which these are a small sample – starting with my favourite bird of all

Western Spindalis / Stripe-headed Tanager

Western Spindalis / Stripe-headed Tanager

                                                           POINTING AND SHOOTING                                                  THE TEAM PHOTO

Black-faced Grassquit

Black-faced Grassquit (?juvenile)

Red-legged Thrush

West Indian Woodpecker

I’ve no idea. Small. Dark. Finchy. Grassquit? Hard to see. Any ideas? Sorry

Team Leader Ricky