Well now that was a big week.
In fact, it was Opossum Creek Retreat’s biggest week of the year.
The New River Birding and Nature Festival just ended, and a good bit of the festival takes place here at OCR. Somewhere between 60-100 people a day get to enjoy our slice of almost heaven during the festival. During this event, people gather to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the New River Gorge.
We do not cook for many groups, but we will if it is the right fit. And this festival is. It’s all about happy people doing fun stuff, learning, and enjoying good food.
On Monday morning we got things going in a “back porch” kind of way with “Birding by Butt”.
We spent the day milling around the grounds, watching birds from the comfort of our lawn chairs (hence the name, “Birding by Butt”), in between feedings. This helps everyone get to know each other and settle into the routine of birding, eating, and listening to great presentations.
But you could say that Birding By Butt is a bit of a misnomer, because we do spend some time walking around the 20-some acres of Opossum Creek Retreat.
The day goes something like this:
People start rolling in about 6 AM and we have coffee and drinks ready. We get everyone checked in and give them a name tag and this spiel: “We will be taking walks and getting birds in the scopes and eating and watching Bill Hilton of Project Ruby Throat band a bird or two if we are lucky. There are plenty of chairs for you to bird by butt from, so get comfy and relax for a few minutes before we take a group for a walk.”
Of course everyone is too excited to sit down. They want to “go go go” and they soon hear, “My name is Jim McCormac” or “My name is Mark Garland” and “I will be leading a walk up the road. Who would like to join me?”. The routine of relaxing in the chairs around yard comes slower to some, but before long everyone has settled into the idea of Birding By Butt, just letting the birds come to them.
And they do.
During the rest of the week we come back to OCR after our field trips and have a ‘popcorn talk’. After that we have dinner, then the main attraction for the evening, another speaker or presentation.
It was great to look out the window and see folks sitting in chairs or just walking around looking up into the trees, smiling.
We also hosted the Roads Scholar group on Wednesday and Friday for the “Birding by Butt” routine. Keith and I also led field trips every day of the week (the best part of the week for us).
The New River Birding and Nature Festival is a great way to kick-start us out of winter season; we’d love more events like this to pour ourselves into. There is a price to pay for this much fun and we gladly pay it year after year.
By all accounts, the 10th Annual New River Birding and Nature Festival was the best one yet.
If you have a group you would like us to take care of for a week (or even just a couple of days), give us a call and let’s talk. We might even teach you how to bird by butt.