Saturday, May 9, 2009

Counting Birds and Friends

Wakerobin trillium (photo by Tim Ryan)

New River was amazing in so many ways. First and foremost, I attended the festival for the birds. It is my goal to get to 200 life birds this year (before attending the festival, my ABA life list was 178). Living in eastern PA, I already have a lot of warblers on my list, but there were a few that were target birds for me - cerulean and chestnut-sided. I actually need to concentrate more on shore birds to get those numbers up and New River was not really the place for shore birds!

Secondly, I was attending the festival for the Flock. I met some of the Flock at the Cape May, NJ Autumn Migration Festival last year. After "lurking" on their blogs for over a year, I finally met them in person and they welcomed me with open arms. Now I am a full-fledged Flock member. But a lot of the Flock were new to me:

Jeff from Jeff Gordon
Bill from Bill of the Birds and
Julie from Julie Zickefoose

Then there were friends that were not Flockers - Geoff Heeter, Dave Pollard, Keith Richardson, Connie Toops and my hotel next door neighbors and breakfast-at-Burnwood buddies, Dave and Kristi (thanks for pointing me in the direction of the good coffee!).

I don't know what was more exciting - the life birds or the life friends. Sharing a love of birds and nature brought us close online but being such caring and warm people made for easy laughter and true affection.

But back to the birds. I saw 12 life birds on this trip. Ten at the Festival and another two at the cabin in Renick.
Yellow-throated vireo, yello-throated warbler, Northern waterthrush, Louisiana waterthrush, black-throated green warbler, Canada warbler, bobolink, ruffed grouse and chestnut-sided warbler and Swainson's thrush were my Festival birds. American woodcock and yellow-bellied sapsucker were my Renick birds. On the Greenbriar River trail I also think I saw a Swainson's warbler and magnolia warbler, but without a positive ID, I can't count them.

My two days in Renick were restful and delightful. I love spending time with my uncle and his daughter (both from Maryland) who bought 80 acres on a mountain in WV ten years ago and built a beautiful vacation cabin. It is a misnomer to call it a simple cabin - it's a gorgeous log home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a field stone chimney with a woodburning stove, wraparound deck with a porch swing, copper trimmed kitchen and homemade quilts on the homemade wood beds. The home is decorated with animal heads, antlers and skins from my uncle's successful hunting trips (he makes his own bows and arrows!). It's not as yucky as it sounds. I have gotten 10 life birds on their property alone (including these last two) and they humor me with long walks in the rain in the Monongahela Forest and Greenbriar River trail.

Handcarved wood bed with Christy's hand-stitched quilt.

Barry and Christy on the Greenbriar River Trail.
They are interested in wildflowers and trees the way I am interested in birds. They taught me much about the flowers we saw so now I can ID some of them myself. Marsh marigold, trillium (all kinds), star chickweed, serviceberry, squirrel corn (my favorite of all the flowers we saw), may apple, hobblebush, hemlock and red spruce, swamp buttercup, dwarf bearded iris, wild geranium, golden ragwort, yellow buckeye (my favorite tree), Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose and wild ramps. As a chef, the ramps and the morels on their property were more interesting to me than the flowers.
But the birds rule all! My life list is now up to 190. Ten more to go this year.


jalynn01 said...

Hi Beth,
Loved your red Trillium. I wish I knew more wildflowers, but it's hard enough trying to learn birds!! I read your last post and went and found out where the stone chicken came from. I think she is pretty..but then I like chickens!! I think you should have gotten her eggs too!!! Love that bed you slept in!

T.R. said...

Wake Robin - who knew such a thing existed! I made the change to my photo list thanks to you (second one of the day - that was a nessum sphinx on the fox poop).

Beautiful post. I loved meeting you. You have the most beautiful smile and energy. You were a great, although late, addition to the flock. Definitely a delightful surprise!


Mary said...

Glad you enjoyed the rest of your trip back home and spent some good quality time with family. I've enjoyed your posts - esp. the random funnies and random group shots :o)

Kathi said...

Pretty pics and nice post! I know that waterfall on your banner - my photos of it aren't as good, but I will put one up eventually.

Wasn't that trilium sweet? I have seen it called "red," "purple" and wakerobin. So many wildflowers have different common names. It can get very confusing.


nina at Nature Remains. said...

That trip was nothing if not chock-full of all sorts of newness.
People, birds, wildflowers--such a rich experience all around.

Feeling rather stuffed with goodness...

Lynne said...

It was great re-connecting with you. I know we'll be lifers!

Bird Girl said...

You have some really nice pictures here and you stay with your uncle must have been so neat! It was great fun meeting you and you made me laugh more than anyone! Just watching 'Susan gets Native' teasing you ;-)