Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Birding with Ralph Bell

Every May birders from the Ralph Bell and Three Rivers Birding Clubs descend on Ralph Bell's Farm in Greene County, PA for a day of birding, learning and friendship. We walk the country road in search of numerous species. This year the count was 72 of 74 (I forget), but most of the birds were identified by song.

Honestly, we are really there to share time with Ralph. Everyone adores him! He is 94, has lived on the farm his entire life, and he loves and knows birds. He keeps Purple Martin houses, Blue Bird boxes and has given his barn to the Barn Swallows. There are birds everywhere!

Here Ralph is teaching new birders about the evils of Garlic Mustard. Notice the women taking a whiff of this invasive plant.

On our walk we crossed several creeks and streams


easily found numerous wildflowers, like this Star of Bethlehem,

and we even caught a glimpse of the elusive "Rail Bird."

After much birding and strained necks

even by a four-years old

we broke bread and shared Cheetos before banding baby Bluebirds.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Moments at New River

Amazing. It has already been two weeks, two very busy weeks, since the New River Gorge Birding and Nature Festival. Ask any high school teacher what the job is like in May. Circle the wagons, my friends, there is A LOT to do! Add trips to the dentist to repair the tooth I broke in WV to getting the estimate and having my car repaired from the collision with a deer, also in WV, to numerous late nights watching some very intense hockey games and you have a woman with no time to blog. But, one who is a very happy Penguins fan! Whew! What a ride!

It is time to slow down and return to the mist in the mountains of West Virginia.

Meeting all of my blogging friends and new friends was the best part of the week. I'll know better next time to take more photos, but I did manage a few shots. I wish I had photos of everyone. Also, finally, sometime this week, I'll be adding links to to other blogs! Yea! A friend is going to help me understand all that html stuff - to me a language for another universe.

The unofficial Welcome Wagon at New River was the always smiling, ever joyous KatDoc.

Leslie, shown below, and Guy are great new friends even if they were cheering for the Washington Capitols.

Then, of course, there was guide extraordinaire, Julie Zickefoose.

She found us birds, and newts, and a Phoebe nest with eggs and, with hubby Bill Thompson and the other members of The Swinging Orangutangs, rocked the house!

I could not have hoped for a better birding festival. All of our guides were super and the people were awesome! Sign me up for next year!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Almost Heaven - The New River Gorge Birding Festival

The West Virginia rain and fog at the New River Festival, especially at a place called Muddelty, seeped through my skin and infused every cell of my being. Oh, yes. This is a special place. It was a treasure to experience this forest.

I attended the festival for only the last two days. They were two very wet days. Even though most of the birds looked a bit gray in the mist, they were amazing and I was blessed with many life birds. I will always remember a few moments with a Black and White Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow Chat, Cerulean Warbler and Savannah Sparrow.

The forest oozed magic. I could almost feel the trees breathing. We saw Red-Spotted Newt, the nest of an Eastern Towhee with four eggs, a West Virginia White Butterfly and we heard the glorious bird songs echo through the woods.

We also saw something that still makes my heart ache. On one tree was nailed a sign. This beautiful forest is posted and scheduled to be destroyed, mined by mountain top removal. The earth weeps. Is anyone listening?