I just returned from a week of leading field trips, giving a presentation, and otherwise participating in the New River Birding & Nature Festival. This year marked the festival's tenth year of doing business, and it was the best ever - at least of the six that I've been a part of. A big thanks to Dave Pollard, Geoff Heeter, Keith Richardson, Rachel Davis and everyone else who has a hand in organizing the NRBNF. If you haven't been to this event, put it on the calendar for next year, and if you have been, we'll hope to see you back.
Babcock State Park. He had just run through far more challenging rapids, at the top of the photo.
The habitats along this creek are sublime. We saw or heard many interesting birds here, observed lots of noteworthy plants, and a special treat were the bizarre and primitive lampshade weaver spiders that spin their tangled webs in alcoves of adjacent sandstone cliffs.
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area high in the Monongahela National Forest. A stroll around the 1/2 mile long planking can take hours, as the bird life is so rich. Among other species, we saw and/or heard Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Canada, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Nashville, and Yellow-rumped warblers, and Northern Waterthrush. All of them breed here. Scores of other bird species were seen, including a good number of Red Crossbills. The crossbills put on a heckuva show for the group, and I have great photos of the birds. That'll be a separate post. In all, the group found 89 species of birds on this day.
Seabrooke Leckie, far right. She is coauthor of the brand spanking new Peterson Field Guide to Moths, and what a stunner of a book this is. Even if you're not into moths, you'll enjoy exploring the beautiful insects in the book, which can be had RIGHT HERE. Seabrooke set up her moth traps on two different evenings, and thus was able to offer us good up close looks at many species of these interesting insects.
Another treat was Katie Fallon, author of another great new book, Cerulean Blues, which is all about the Cerulean Warbler. It is a MUST-READ for birders; GET IT HERE. I got to co-lead a trip with Katie and Paul Shaw to a mountaintop rich in Cerulean Warblers. We saw or heard 20 or so birds, including good looks at the elusive females, and fabulous studies of the sky-blue males BELOW our eye level and at close range.
Scores of "life" birds were seen during the festival, not too mention all of the other new flora and fauna that people saw. I've been to a fair number of birding events, and one would be hard pressed to find a friendlier, more productive and better run show than the New River Birding & Nature Festival. Visit their website and you can learn more about the festival.