They came. They saw. They birded.
And they were like a flock wreaking havoc. Lucky us.
Hundreds of Birding and Nature enthusiasts swarmed over The New River Gorge in West Virginia last week (my home sweet home). They were traversing the areas rural roads by the bus load, searching out rare and elusive species of Birds and plants to add to their “life lists”. People crossed borders (legally) to join the mayhem, and some flew almost as far as the birds did to get here.
With several groups arriving from as far away as California and Washington State on the West Coast, Canada to the north and Alabama to the south. That’s almost (but not quite) as far as some of the birds for the fest traveled.
It all gets captured in the look on the face of bear hunters, when they come flying around the corner and see a bunch of people in the road looking thru binoculars into the tree tops. That’s what this blog needs a picture of. Once they got there 4 wheeler under control and asked a few questions like:
- Are you lost?
- Did your bus breakdown?
- Just what exactly are you all looking at?
The Local Bear Hunters offer up advice on back roads and secret spots for hunting Mushrooms. It’s strange to see so many people out in these parts, but we like a lot of the same things. That’s why it’s a festival, I guess.
“We simply love it when those bird people show up. They spend lots of money! And, y’know, they’re great people, too,” a local business owner told me. “They had to start calling ahead because we are not ready for a flock of people all at once this time of year [Ha! Flock. Get it?]. They make our week.”
And that’s one of the big reasons we started this event. We wanted to help fill up some otherwise slow time in our tourism calendar. Plus it truly is world class birding and botany. Plus, it’s as much fun as I have all year. Plus, most of the folks that come feel the same way.
Next year will be the ninth year for the event and organizers are already at work to make it better than ever. We felt it needed to be a sustainable event, something that could outlive us. We’re not there yet but it’s getting better and better each year.
But don’t take my word for it (actually, though, you should. I’m an expert on my own opinions, usually). Here’s the word on the New River Bird And Nature Fest from around the interwebs:
- Here’s what our friend Vickie Henderson had to say about waterfalls and warblers.
- Guide Jeffrey Gordon talks about the Swainson’s Warbler at the festival.
- The awesome Bill Thompson III aka Bill of the Birds talks about why he always comes back to the New River at his Bird Watcher’s Digest blog.
- Here’s the rundown for learning to see a bird at littleorangeguy’s blog.
- There’s an awesome photo essay at Mark S. Garland’s blog.
- Julie Zickefoose gives us a mention on her blog post about Chet, the New River Birding And Nature Fest’s unofficial (official?) greeter.
- Susan Williams takes another step to break birder stereotypes (and succeeds).
- Finally, Bill Hilton Jr. gives a rundown on why we’re one of Birdwatcher’s Digest top events.
Did we miss anyone? Please, add a link in the comments if so. And, yeah, it sounds pretty cool, huh? It was.
If you want to put it on your calendar for next year (and you should), here’s where you can find us on facebook. Until then, see you in the woods.