Thursday, July 7, 2011

Midwest Birding Symposium - get yer tickets, NOW!

The birding event of the century will soon be upon us, and as fate would have it, the Midwest Birding Symposium will take place right here in Ohio. If you have even the slightest interest in birds - actually, even if you strongly dislike birds - you should make this scene, man. It is fun, educational, social, and fun. CLICK HERE to visit the MBS's fabulous new site with every detail about the fest.

Put on by Bird Watcher's Digest, the Ohio Ornithological Society, and the Lakeside Association, this may be the best run event of any kind in the world. Well, it's close, anyway. Come, and you'll be flabbergasted by the thought and detail that goes into the execution of the MBS.

Ground zero for festivities is the charming village of Lakeside, located on the Marblehead Peninsula and butted directly up against one of the globe's great waterbodies, Lake Erie.

A view from Lakeside's back deck. That's not the ocean, it's our 4th largest Great Lake by area, and the smallest by volume. And probably the birdiest. Lake Erie is legendary for its birdlife, and the MBS takes place near the peak of songbird migration. One need not leave the heavily wooded grounds to find lots of birds. But you can. We've set up topnotch guides at the best birding hotspots in the region. Last MBS, in 2009, a Kirtland's Warbler was found at East Harbor State Park, about ten minutes from Lakeside. The majority of the nearly 1,000 attendees got to see it. This year, festival organizers have arranged for a Horned Puffin to appear off that pier in the photo above.

Quaint does not begin to describe the village of Lakeside. That's the historic Lakeside Inn, above. One can leisurely stroll these quiet streets without fear of being mowed down by speeding buses or jake-braking semis. Everything that's part of MBS - and the venues are many and varied - is within an easy walk of any point. Should your feet tire, they've arranged golf cart - really nice golf carts! - shuttle services.

Nearly everyone that you encounter within Lakeside during MBS will be a birdwatcher. Those are some, right there standing in that street. It's as if birders take over the town, and a friendlier lot you'll be hard pressed to find.

The exhibition hall is worth the price of admssion alone. All manner of vendors hawking all kinds of wares will be present. There'll be famous and not so famous authors, their books, optics peddlers, tour companies, artists, sellers of great literature, and much more.

A highlight for many is the fabulous lineup of speakers. This is the cavernous Hoover Auditorium, which seats a couple of thousand bodies and is used for keynotes. Quite a spectacle having this many birders under one roof.

Believe me, if you come to the Midwest Birding Symposium, you'll enjoy it. This is by no shakes a stuffy gathering of pith-helmeted geeks arguing about feather molt in subadult Blue-gray Gnatcathers. Well, OK, there may be some of those types, but they'll be greatly outnumbered by more normal folks.

Just visit the MBS WEBSITE for the complete scoop, including speakers, birding sites, the special Lake Erie cruise, lodging and everything else you can think of.

One last note. The Midwest Birding Symposium is held every other year, and after two consecutive runs in one state, it migrates to another state. This is its last run in Ohio for some time. In 2009, a record crowd of nearly 1,000 gathered at Lakeside. You can see posts that I made about that year's event HERE, HERE, and HERE. Gathering that number of like-minded people together serves lots of purposes, not the least of which is sending a strong message that there are many people who care about birds and our environment. Hunters and anglers learned long ago the power of unity and it has served conservation well. Gatherings like the MBS can only serve to bring more birders together and strengthen our collective voice.

Hope to see you at Lakeside in September!


donaldthebirder said...

Wished I could go this year, had a good time in '09, too broke this year.

Bill of the Birds said...

Thanks for the nice plug, Jimbo. I put $5 in the mail for you as a thank you.