One of my favorite places ANYWHERE is the magical Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, nestled in a lofty bowl high in the mountains of West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest. They might have just as easily dubbed this the Cranberry Glades Ornithological Area, so rich is it with interesting and regionally significant breeding birds.
We were there on a foray as part of the recent New River Birding & Nature Festival, and following are a few snapshots of the place.
Serious students of botany make regular pilgrimages to these lofty heights, to drink in alluring bog plants normally found far to the north.
Memorable moments are routine at the Glades, and one that our group will surely not forget anytime soon was an especially obliging Canada Warbler. A beautiful male, with no goading of any kind from us, popped into a spruce next to the boardwalk and eyed us with apparent curiosity while we stood in shell-shocked awe. It came within two feet of me, and at one point I thought it might land on my outstretched hand.
We'll be back up here in the misty mountains next year. If you can make the New River Birding & Nature Festival 2011, you'll get to see the place with your own eyes.