It's about 17 degrees here in central Ohio, with snow flurries. The weather was rough enough early this morning that I had to turn back from a planned trip to Cincinnati, due to road conditions. Winter is OK, sometimes, but as the days lengthen, my thoughts turn increasingly towards spring and the return of migrant birds, plants erupting from slumber, and warmer weather.
A New Year has dawned, and even though we may yet be in winter's icy clutches, it's high time to begin planning the Big Trips for 2011. And one that I HIGHLY recommend is the New River Birding & Nature Festival. This week-long immersion in natural history takes place in the heart of one of eastern North America's most scenic and biologically rich areas, the mountains of southeastern West Virginia.
You needn't stay the entire week - shorter options are available - but many do. Once bitten by the charms of the Mountaineer State's rugged country, some of us can't get enough. This festival also benefits greatly from an extreme team of leadership - some of the finest guides to be found. The event is also run like a well-oiled machine. Believe me, you won't be disappointed should you decide to join us somewhere between May 2 and 7. The complete scoop can be found HERE.
This'll be my fifth year at New River, and it's a highlight of the year. Over my half decade of visits, I've amassed a fair number of photos, and present a few of those below, so you can see for yourself some of West Virginia's wonders and what we see and do during the festival.
Our base camp is the lovely Opossum Creek Retreat, nestled deep in remote woods. One would never have to leave this place to compile an impressive bird list - and plant list.
Come on down to the festival if you can. I'll promise that you'll not be disappointed.