Thursday, May 30, 2013

Scenes from The New River Birding Festival 2013 Part 1

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Every spring I make the trek to south-central West Virginia to help out guiding, speaking, and performing at The New River Birding and Nature Festival. Those of you who've read this blog over the past several years know all about why this event is special to me. And each year it seems to get a bit more special. There are lots of things about "the New" that appeal to me: the incredible natural beauty of the New River Gorge region, the amazing variety of nesting, migrant, and resident birds, the chance to eat ramps... but I think the real reason is the people.

I've become great friends with the folks who founded and run the festival—we're like family at this point. But it's also the people who come as my fellow guides/speakers—they are some of the most talented field birders and fascinating personalities on the planet. And it's the folks who attend the New River Birding Festival as participants. It takes a special person to see the intrinsic value in a small, friendly birding event run deep in the middle of a state that is probably not naturally on the radar of the average traveling bird watcher.

But that's changing...

I speak and guide at a bunch of birding festivals every year. And lots of times someone on one of my trips will say to me "Hey Bill, I see that you do that New River festival in West Virginia every year. What's that one like?" I always say: "Man, it's great! Low key. Great birds, food, people, scenery." But what I really should say is: "You've gotta be there to experience how great it is."

In this post (and maybe one or two others coming up) I'm going to show some images from the 2013 NRBNF to help you get a feel for what it's like.
The pre-festival guides' meeting (with local micro-brew) in the gazebo. Festival hosts, from left: Lynn Pollard, Bill Hilton, Jr, Geoff Heeter, Dave Pollard.

Most mornings we meet for breakfast at Burnwood, a picnic area and campsite near the gorge. After fueling up, we head to our vehicles—if we can find them in the fog that sometimes blankets the gorge.
The fog burns off and we're into the birds. This is a group I led early in the week this year, on a new route called Hunt Club Road. We were looking at this:

Male golden-winged warbler
When we see a good bird like this, we take a moment to celebrate. Here is a photo of a low-key version of The Life Bird Wiggle (we didn't want to disturb the bird).

Then we're off after more birds...

There's a lot for us guides to point out...

Ernesto Carman from Costa Rica came to guide this year. He has incredibly good spotting skills.

Keith Richardson, one of the festival's organizers and hosts, points out a worm-eating warbler on the Nuttallburg hiking trail.
There are so many great birds that we get long, binoc-filling views of...

Male Kentucky warbler.
Male prairie warbler.

Male scarlet tanager.

There's a lot more beauty to enjoy than the feathered kind.

Roaring mountain stream above Nuttalburg.

Flowering pawpaw tree.

Spidery grape vine.

Swirling stone. What made this pattern in the mountain?
If this post piques your interest, make plans now to attend The New River Birding Festival in 2014. I'll be there and I can't wait!


On June 10, 2013 at 6:06 PM Rondeau Ric said...

Do you know what the dates will be for next year?
We have no big trips planned so, hopefully, we can come see everybody in '14.

See you in September.

Somebody should use that in a song.

On June 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM Bill of the Birds said...

April 28-May 3, 2014 are next year's dates for the New River Birding & Nature Festival, RR.

On June 16, 2013 at 9:44 PM DaylilyFan said...

I had to miss the past two years, so I am really looking forward to 2014!

On July 31, 2013 at 12:41 AM Tonja said...

This is cool!