Monday, September 30, 2013

The 2013 Midwest Birding Symposium!

Monday, September 30, 2013
From September 19 to 22, many hundreds of bird watchers converged on Lakeside, Ohio for the 2013 Midwest Birding Symposium, hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest, The Ohio Ornithological Society, and The Lakeside Chautauqua

The speakers were incredible, the Birder's Marketplace was brimming with vendors, the birding was excellent, and the weather was mostly cooperative.

 The MBS started off on Thursday evening with a Lake Erie Sunset Boat Cruise around the region's many beautiful islands. The sunset also made an appearance.

MBS attendees embark on the Goodtime II for the Sunset Boat Cruise.

We had an army of volunteers helping us with MBS, including more than a dozen members of the Ohio Ornithological Society and more than 100 members of the Lakeside Chautauqua community.

The MBS was held just following the summer programming season at Lakeside Chautauqua. If you haven't experienced Lakeside during their summer season, it's quite a wonderful thing. You can learn more here.
 Attendees picked up their goodie bags and name tags at MBS registration in Hoover Auditorium.   

During the event, attendees strolled the charming Lakeside Chautuaqua campus from venue to venue.

 Friday and Saturday mornings were reserved for birding at one of our five birding spots staffed with guides. Two species of phalaropes, red knot, golden plover, and golden-winged warbler were among the species of note spotted during the two mornings of birding.

 The MBS is called "the world's friendliest birding event," and judging from the smiling faces of attendees, it lived up to its reputation.

Many of our speakers are also authors of important books on birds and nature. On Saturday we held an authors' book signing in South Auditorium. Here, British author Mark Cocker sings a copy of his epic new book Birds and People

It's hard to put into words (or electrons in the case of this blog post) just how wonderfully enriching and engaging it is to be a part of The Midwest Birding Symposium. Those of us at BWD have hosted it five (!) times here in Ohio—each time at Lakeside. But this every-other-year event needs to visit other parts of the Midwest, so in 2015 we'll be taking it to Bay City, Michigan. I'll share more details about that in a future post.

The next post here on Bill of the Birds is going to be part two of my MBS 2013 recap.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twenty Years Ago Today

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Twenty years ago today, on September 11 (years before that date became associated with something less happy) I got married to Julie Zickefoose here in Marietta, Ohio at St. Luke's Lutheran Church.

We had a light-hearted wedding with music on guitar and piano and fiddle—and got hitched on the upswing of the clock for good luck. Afterwards we repaired (with 200 of our closest family and friends) to the Whipple, Ohio farm Julie and I already owned and we had more music and a pig roast, or as we called it (to sound "more fancier" a r├┤ti de cochon)

It was an incredible, life-changing day.

We were standing on the precipice of our lives, looking into the future...

Here we are (below) two years after the wedding, birding at Ding Darling NWR in Florida. I'll spare you the Then and Now comparison.

(photo by our dear friend, the late Dr. Hugh P. Smith).  

It's been a wonderful two decades—not always easy, of course. Then again, what is? One thing that sticks with me is just how fascinating and fascinated Julie really is. I'm fortunate to have shared this journey with her.

And now we are four.

Today I am thinking about happy things and beloved family and friends, and feeling lucky as heck to be right here, right now.