Sunday, May 6, 2007


Sunday, May 6, 2007
For the past week I've been leading birding trips in south-central West Virginia for the New River Birding Festival. This event is a lock on my travel calendar every year because it's like going to bird watching camp--most of us stay in cabins where the wood thrushes sing us to sleep at night and wake us in the morning.

The first field trip I led went to Redneck Corner. Coincidence? I don't think so.

The 100 or so attendees come for multiple days, so we see each other repeatedly--on field trips, at the morning rallying point, at the evening meal and banquet--and get to know each other better. And many folks, like us, come to the New River Birding Festival every year. It could be the birds, but I think it's more likely the laid-back atmosphere for birding and getting to see fellow bird-watching pals that's the real attraction.
Lots of states represented here. This birders were from Alabama.

The field-birding focus is on warblers and this part of the world is like Warblerville, USA. I led two golden-winged warbler trips in the past two days. The first day we got 17 warblers (but no GWWA). The next day (yesterday) we found about12 golden-wingeds, plus 19 other warblers. I'm pretty sure they might have just come in overnight.

Our quest bird: the male golden-winged warbler. They nest in old clear cuts here in WV.

On yesterday's successful GWWA trip the warblers we had were: golden-winged, n. parula, yellow, chestnut-sided, black-throated blue, black-throated green, yellow-rumped, Blackburnian, prairie, black-and-white, American redstart, worm-eating, ovenbird, Louisiana waterthrush, Kentucky, mourning (heard only), common yellowthroat, hooded warbler, Canada, and yellow-breasted chat.

Male American redstart.

Male hooded warbler.

My favorite warbler, the black-throated blue--this is a male.

The event is not without its trials and tribulations: On Friday's trip one of the vehicles had a flat tire which I changed. On Saturday's trip, the borrowed SUV I was driving (with four other passengers) got locked somehow with everything, including the keys, inside. Many cell phone calls and two hours later, the vehicle's owner (the kind, lovely, and patient Lynn Pollard) came with a spare set of keys. The "send-the-unlock-signal-over-a-cellphone" did not work.

Painted trillium along Glade Creek Road.

I hate to ponder what might have happened this morning if I'd been leading a trip....untimely lightning strike?

Fogged in on Bobolink Hill. Still saw the bobos, though.

If you love watching warblers, consider coming to the New River Birding Festival in 2008. It usually starts on the last Sunday of April and runs for a week. After all, there aren't THAT many places where you can get 20+ species of warblers in one day while seeing breathtaking mountain scenery like we've enjoyed here on the edge of the New River gorge.

We enjoyed this view at Babcock State Forest while waiting for the "locksmith" to set us free.


On May 6, 2007 at 12:17 PM kevbosnafu said...

Finally spotted my first warbler in the Boston Public Garden Friday morning at around 8. Your trip sounds wonderfully warbler-filled!

On May 6, 2007 at 8:01 PM katdoc said...

Oh, so THAT'S what a Golden-winged Warbler looks like!

(You have to forgive me while I harass BOTB. I was on his first, unsuccessful, flat-tire GWWA trip. Not the second, successful, locked-out-of-the-SUV trip.)

I second Bill's endorsement of this Festival. It was only my first time here, but I loved it and am already making plans to return in '08. (Maybe I will see a Golden-winged Warbler then.)

Bill only mentioned a few of the birds you can see here. I got my Life Cerulean, Worm-eating, Prairie, Canada and Swainson's Warblers this week (the Prairie and Canada with BT3, the Swainson's with Bill's wife Julie.) As well as finding me two life warblers, Bill got me my Life Broad-winged Hawk, so I forgive him the missing GWWA (which I have seen) but the Black-throated Blue would have been sweet. Maybe at the OOS meeting in two weeks, Bill? I will hold the keys, if you don't mind.


On May 6, 2007 at 8:42 PM Bill of the Birds said...


Please be the Keymaster at Mohican and I will endeavor to find you a BTBW. Great having you along at New River. Thanks for the CEWA, too!

On May 8, 2007 at 1:17 PM Rondeau Ric said...

You could have been kind BOTB and said it was bad weather and no birds.
Now I'm really bummed out about not making it an international event this year.