Thursday, April 30, 2009

New River - Finally!

Arrived at New River Birding and Nature Festival yesterday afternoon after an 8-hour drive through pouring rain. Spent the dinner hour(s) with members of The Flock - catching up, eating, listening to a birdsong presentation by Wil Hershberger, taking pictures and laughing. I haven't laughed so hard in months. I met lots of new Flock members to add to ny Bloggy Life List. I will talk more about that in later posts.

This morning at 6am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a good night's sleep, I headed over to Opossum Creek Retreat for my first "field trip" - Birding by Butt. Now that's my kind of birding. Sitting on the porch, sipping coffee and watching the birds fly in. There was a nice long walk through the woods once the rain let up. And we watched Bill Hilton, Jr. of Operation Rubythroat (headquartered in South Carolina) trap and band hummingbirds. He put teeny, tiny bands on teeny, tiny hummingbird legs. Quite impressive.

In the mist nets he caught goldfinches, indigo bunting, chipping sparrow and most impressively, a palm warbler. Here are male (left) and female (right) goldfinches caught at the same time and ready for banding.

After banding them all, he released them and I got to hold and release a female goldfinch. That's a first for me - holding a live, wild bird in my hand. She was so tiny, so intense, so beautiful. It was a special, special moment that I will never forget. Bill says we shouldn't get emotionally attached to wild birds - too late! I'm attached.

Me and the female goldfinch sharing a moment before her release. Look at the goofy grin on my face!

Birding was good for my first day and in the rain - 38 species and 3 life birds (in bold):

Blue gray gnatcatchers (on the nest)
Northern cardinal
Eastern phoebe
Rubythroated hummingbird
Hooded warbler
Black and white warbler
Black throated blue warbler
Scarlet tanager
Eastern towhee
Brown-headed cowbird
American robin
Northern mockingbird
Eastern bluebird
Pileated woodpecker
American goldfinch
Northern parula
Chipping sparrow
White breasted nuthatch
Yellow throated vireo
Wood thrush
Pine siskin
Tufted titmouse
Hermit thrush
American crow
Red eyed vireo
Mourning dove
Palm warbler
Blue jay
Red shouldered hawk
Indigo bunting
Downy woodpecker
Yellow rumped warbler
Carolina wren
Turkey vulture
Black vulture
Swainson's thrush
Yellow throated warbler

More tomorrow - plus more pictures!


Mary said...

Soooo cool, wasn't it Beth? You rock. We laughed so hard... It was a pleasure to be with you!

dguzman said...

Oh man--I want to hold a bird!

Bird Girl said...

I just love that shot with the 2 goldfinch in Bill's hand - I missed a lot of banding and I regret not seeing more close up! Really great list of birds, Beth!