This winter the Bohos seem to be popping up quite regularly in southern Canada and across the northern portions of the northern US. I've been following sightings on the listservs and it seems like our closest opportunity is going to be along Lake Michigan. That's about a 10-hour drive north of here—13 hours for Heets.
If you don't know Geoff Heeter, you should. He's one of the two dudes (Dave Pollard is the other) responsible for The New River Birding and Nature Festival held each spring near Fayetteville, WV. The New River festival is kept intentionally small to keep the quality of the experience high, and to permit the event to be held where it is—just minutes from great birding spots.
If you are not familiar with the NRBNF, here are a few words and images for your edification:
You get to go birding watching in places like this spot along the New River.
While you are in a beautiful spot such as the one shown above, you are likely to get a chance to see the hard-to-find Swainson's warbler.
And when you do, you may feel inclined to do the Life Bird Wiggle.
It's quite the charming and friendly, spiritually-enriching, fun-as-hizzle birding festival. The organizers and a great crew of field trip leaders go out of their way to make sure everyone is happy. You need to check it out.
Now back to my buddy Geoff Heeter.
He knows how to run whitewater rapids safely in a raft. He knows how to make a primitive camp in the boonies. He knows how, when, and where to harvest ramps (and how to cook them up). He knows how to keep a string of pack horses from bolting when there's a mountain lion around.
And he runs Opossum Creek Retreat near Fayetteville, WV—a delightful bunch of cabins he built by hand using local timber. Opossum Creek is the epicenter of the New River Birding Festival. Heets is a really amazing person and I'm proud to call him my friend.
However the occasional hole does appear in Geoff's very impressive suite of skills.
That's when acrid gray smoke began appearing from beneath the grill's lid.
Upon opening up the grill, these masters of outdoor cookery discovered that they'd left the owner's manual inside the cooking unit. Had it not been reduced to ashes, I wondered (aloud) whether or not the instructions read something like:
Congratulations on the purchase of your new grill. Please follow these instructions before use:
STEP 1: Remove this owner's manual before lighting the grill.
When I realized that I need a little birding break, and I felt the urge to head north after Bohemian waxwings, I called Heets to see if he could join me. Happily, he could make it happen. And now, as you read this, we're somewhere in the northern reaches of Michigan, searching for Bohemians.
I'll be sure to let you know how the quest turns out.