Monday, April 26, 2010

More West Virginia

Some of the New River Birding Festival crowd, scoping out the goodies right outside the main cabin at Opossum Creek Resort. This is not only one of the most biologically rich places in the eastern U.S., the viewscapes are fabulous at every turn. Today was misty and wet but never oppressive, and we saw lots of birds. The weather is to take a turn for the brighter, and we expect dry and bright for the remainder of the week.

Festival staple and hummingbird guru supreme Bill Hilton. Bill sets up his banding operation, captures interesting birds, and thrills the onlookers with up close and personal experiences of species such as Brown Thrasher, White-throated Sparrow, Indigo Bunting and many others.

Bill is one of only 152 licensed hummingbird banders in the U.S., and he successfully plied his trade today. We had just watched this male Ruby-throated Hummingbird through a scope for ten minutes as it loafed on a high branch. Then, off it buzzed, and BINGO - right into Bill's cleverly designed trap. We took a moment to ogle the iridescent ruby gorget feathers of this tiny dynamo, then Bill set to work weighing, measuring, and ringing the sprite with an impossibly tiny leg band.

Nearly over top of the cabin, in a low branch of an oak, is one of the most magnificent architectural works in the bird world, the nest of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Looking all the world like a lichen-encrusted bump, the nest is an ornate assemblage of plant down shingled with lichens, glued together with spider webbing. YOU try and make something like that!

Looking forward to ascending Sugar Creek Mountain tomorrow.

1 comment:

Janet Creamer said...

The hummingbird shot is great! It is sometimes hard to get the iridescence to show up in photos. Nice shot of the gnatcatcher nest, too.