Friday, April 29, 2011

The New River Birding and Nature Festival

Last May I attended my first-ever New River Birding and Nature Festival in Fayetteville, West Virginia. I knew pretty much the instant I arrived that I would be back the next year. Stalking warblers and bobolinks in the company of some truly brilliant birders was at once exhilarating, humbling, and fantastically educational. Plus, I was honored to meet some of my favorite bloggers, such as Julie Zickefoose, Bill Thompson III, and Murr Brewster, as well as a slew of other birding greats (most of whom, at the time, I had no idea how lucky I was to meet!)

And the estimable Chet Baker, of course.

In addition to the breathtaking avifauna (which included a plethora of lifer species!), I got to experience some real West Virginia hospitality when my car broke down and I was stranded there for three days!! (It looked like a pothole but I think it might've actually been a mineshaft.) Geoff Heeter, the magnanimous owner of Opossum Creek Retreat, put me up until my car was fixed, and just about everyone else I met there helped me out in some way as well. I was floored by the kind-heartedness and tried to pay them back in a very small way with this piece. It's a Golden-Winged Warbler with the New River Gorge in the background (and a border of goldenrod, Solidago altissima.)

The birds are to die for, the people are wonderful (and patient with novices!), and the entertainment can't be beat. If you're looking for a great birding festival, this one is it! (Even more so if you stay at Opossum Creek!) Hoping to see more of these guys (people and birds!!) at this year's NRB&NF!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sketches Here and There

A meager offering of doodles from last year's Moleskine sketchbook/journal.

Life sketches of a pair of green herons that began building a nest (but as far as I know, didn't lay any eggs) at the BNC pond last summer.

I watched one of them repeatedly dropping twigs into the water and initially thought s/he was simply a little clumsy, but when I read up on green herons I found that they are one of the only bird species that actually use tools! Apparently they will drop an object (a twig, blade of grass, leaf, etc.) onto the surface of a pond and then pounce on the fish that are attracted to the disturbance! I can't believe I got to observe this tool usage firsthand.

Mouse sketches (deermice mostly):

American kestrels:

The drawing on the left page, top right is from a photo I took at Kiptopeke State Park. The Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory bands both raptors and songbirds there--it's a fantastic opportunity to see some awesome species up cloase and the banders are always happy to answer questions.

Sketches from life at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair:

Life sketches of my sister's boyfriend's mutant chihuahua, Bubbles: