Going back to August... first there was the Rain Crows' weekend-long tour of Columbus, Ohio. We played the fabulous Birds, Bands, and Beer fundraiser event for the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. It was a glorious night of music under the stars. The next night we played a private party at the Columbus Zoo for our pals Kim & Amy. It was a combined birthday/retirement party for these gals and the riverfront pavilion was jammed with their friends. We jammed, too, as black-crowned night herons flew overhead in the evening glow. Our favorite fiddle player Jessie Munson joined us for these two shows, flying in from Memphis for the occasion. It was heaven on a stick.
|The Rain Crows on stage at the Birds, Bands, & Beer event.|
Next for me was the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water Reserve in central England. I've posted about the BirdFair before here on BOTB. But you can also get a feel for it from several of my podcast episodes. The BirdFair is a great event—the largest of its kind in the world. Every major birding destination, all the optics and gear and feeder and clothing and content and tour companies are there, along with artists, organizations, much more. Plus there's beer. My good buddy Tim Appleton is one of the co-founders of the event and seeing him is always a highlight. These days I go to see my friends from around the world as much as I go to do actual business. My main mission for the 2015 BirdFair was to let exhibitors know about the American Birding Expo which was coming up just two months later. More on that in a moment.
|Visiting with my friends at BirdFair from INGUAT Guatemala.|
|The BirdFair raises funds for important bird conservation causes.|
A day after returning from the BirdFair, I was on my way to Jamestown, NY for a board meeting of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. I've just started my second board term for RTPI. This is something I do to help repay in some small part the incredible support and many contributions Roger Peterson made to our family business, Bird Watcher's Digest. He was an early mentor to us and, later, a regular columnist for our magazine. RTPI carries on his legacy of sharing the joys of birds and nature. Supporting RTPI by becoming a member is a fantastic way of "paying it forward" to the next generation of birders and naturalists.
|Roger Tory Peterson.|
|My fellow judges for the SAA show included Lee Peterson (left), son of RTP.|
|The works submitted for the show were inspired.|
Two weeks later, my events team was off to the Midwest Birding Symposium in Bay City, Michigan.
|The opening night festivities at the MBS were a lot of fun.|
|Visitors to Bay City's Stein Haus.|
|Brian "Fox" Ellis came alive as John James Audubon in an MBS keynote talk.|
Two weeks after the close of the MBS, I loaded the birdmobile full of all manner of stuff and headed to Columbus, Ohio to prepare for the first-ever American Birding Expo.
American Birding Association's first-ever Members Summit, which went very well, according to our ABA friends. The ABA, Grange Insurance Audubon Center, the Columbus Metroparks, and BWD served as Expo host organizations, but the bulk of the organizing rested on the wide shoulders of the BWD events team and I couldn't be more proud of how they performed. We also had a small army of volunteers who saved our bacon more than once.
|Attendees visiting exhibitor booths in the main Expo tent.|
|Maven Optics was an Expo exhibitor.|
|BWD Events Director Wendy Clark interviews Alvaro Jaramillo for the Expo video.|
|Saturday night we had live music from The Hip Replacements.|
|José Miguel Fernández Ramírez (right) was the lucky winner of the Zeiss Victory SF binocular, being presented by Zeiss' Rich Moncrief.|
The Expo featured more than 80 exhibitors from all over the world. In fact we had 46 countries and 43 U.S. states represented among the exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees. The event was met with nearly universal praise from attendees, exhibitors, and hosts. Despite two days of cold, rainy, windy weather (with most of our exhibitors in a large tent) we all survived, did some good business, and made a lot of new friends and connections from the worldwide birding community.
|New friends at the Expo Mary Warren of Ohio and Herbert Byaruhanga of Uganda.|
|More new friends: Simon Thompson (left) of Ventures Birding and Andrew Sebastian of Tourism Malaysia and the Asian Bird Fair.|
Here it is now, in mid-November, and I'm just starting to get my legs under me again. That was a whirlwind three months, but I loved (almost) every minute of it. We're already planning next year's events and it would be great if you could join us.
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|A recent issue of BirdWire.|
Coming up in 2016 we have three Reader Rendezvous (special birding weekends for BWD subscribers), the second annual American Birding Expo, and I'll be participating in a neat new event in November: the Honduras Birding for Conservation Tour. I'll be leading a team in a week of birding, competing for a cash prize for a conservation cause in Honduras. It's going to be fun and we're going to see amazing birds.
So I'm taking my chewable vitamins, getting plenty of rest, and stretching my body, mind, and spirit in preparation for a 2016 that is even busier than 2015!
I'll see you out there with the birds, amigos y amigas!