Sunday, September 20, 2009

Midwest Birding Symposium!

Wow! What a last four days it has been! We just wrapped up the 2009 Midwest Birding Symposium today, and the whole affair couldn't have come off any better than it did. Major props to all of the organizers and the legion of people who volunteered on tasks too numerous to describe. It is a TON of work to pull off a multi-day event for over 800 birders. To everyone with Bird Watcher's Digest, the Ohio Ornithological Society, and the Lakeside Association, thanks for coming together to make MBS '09 a reality. And thanks to everyone who attended.

A particularly fortuitous happening was the discovery of a Kirtland's Warbler ten minutes away from MBS central, discovered by Jim Lindway and crew. They got word out quickly, and over the course of Friday, many dozens of birders got to see it; a lifer for many. Yours truly also bagged the bird, after my second run over to the site. Number 360 for Ohio and a real milestone for me, reaching the 360's. And what a bird to get there with!

Another wonderful byproduct of MBS, thanks to the generosity of our attendees, was the $5,000 that we were able to raise to support education and conservation. As most of the OOS board was there, we were able to convene and unanimously vote to match that number out of the OOS conservation and education fund, upping the ante to $10,000. The money will go to support the Black Swamp Bird Observatory; the Roger Tory Peterson Institute; the Lakeside Association; the Black Swamp Conservancy; and The Alliance for Appalachia. All do great work, and your money could not support better causes.

MBS '09 took place on the grounds of Lakeside, a gorgeous, tranquil village on the shores of Lake Erie on the Marblehead Peninsula. There is no better place in Ohio to host such an affair, and Lakeside's Director, Kevin Sibbring and his staff were topnotch and supported us in every way and then some. Almost everyone in town this weekend was a birder, which was pretty cool, and Lakeside is compact enough that one could walk to all of the various venues.

The lobby of the massive Hoover Auditorium, where the keynotes and other main events took place. Everyone funneled through here, as this was ground zero for registration, raffles, the bird checklist, and where Jen Sauter and Ann Kerenyi, the two top commanders running the show, were based.

The MBS vendor's hall was packed, both with purveyors of nearly every product known to birders, and the birders themselves. This was an excellent place to meet new people, catch up with old friends, and find lots of goodies to help with the lightening of wallets.

The darkened bowels of Hoover Auditorium during one of the keynote presentations. It was cool indeed seeing over 700 people in there. Also rather intimidating if you were one of the speakers! Bill Thompson - emcee par excellence! - and the crew at Lakeside had rigged a neat setup with the main projection screen in center stage, and two big side screens. Two cameras projected images of the speaker on the side screens, among other things. Within the next week or so, audio recordings of all of the presentations will be available on the MBS website should you wish to hear any of them.

We took advantage of every possible venue on the Lakeside campus for our various sessions. This is the innards of Orchestra Hall, the only movie theater in Ottawa County. Here, 200 people cram in to hear a wonderful presentation by Julie Zickefoose. Towards the end of her program, husband Bill Thompson III joined her for several songs. It was a hit!

I'll leave you with this snippet of video from Kenn Kaufman's wonderful keynote performance. Here, Kenn has enticed a youthful volunteer, Sarah, up on stage to act a part. She plays a disinterested female Mourning Dove, completely rebuffing Kenn's strutting audacity as the male dove. We were indeed fortunate to have many speakers of this caliber, and lots of laughs and memorable moments.

We'll be back in 2011 for the next MBS, and I hope you are there!


dAwN said...

Sound like a wonderful time had by all. I read tweets from twitter as the symposium was happening..Facebook posts as well
Also a few early bloggers.
Heard all good things!
Hope to be there in 2011.
So..why r u skipping a year?

Jim McCormac said...

Hi Dawn,

Glad to hear that the MBS has been so well publicized! I'm sure there'll be plenty of other blogs and whatnot about it. I know I have plenty of other material.

MBS traditionally is a biennial event, skipping a year. And I'm not sure the organizers would want to try something of that magnitude EVERY year!


Heather said...

Good seeing you at the symposium Jim, if only in passing. It was such an incredible weekend. I'll be blogging about it all week, as I'm sure many others will be as well. We're already looking forward to the next event in 2011!

Dave Lewis said...

Hi Jim! What a great time to be at Lakeside...and I'll never look at a Mourning Dove the same way again...

butmonky said...

I had a great time at MBS. How did you get the weather to stay so nice the whole time? Thanks for the cricket/katydid walk.

Sandy B

Rondeau Ric said...

What a diturbing image - the bowels of the Hoover..

Good to see you again.
Sorry I didn't make your walk.


Julie Zickefoose said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Jim. Your marvy talk was the perfect kick-off to the event. Still trying to process all that happened in those amazing three days. And still doing everybody's laundry!