Friday, May 30, 2014

BWIAB - A highlight. Banding demo at BSBO

I am finally getting around to posting memories from The Biggest Week in American Birding (BWIAB).

We always take home SO many memories and photographs from  BWIAB, it is almost overwhelming to try to write about them! Yes, we took some decent pics of the migrants (both birds and people) that drop in at the Magee Marsh Boardwalk (a future post). We saw wonderful birds and met many wonderful birders and have many stories to tell. But the BWIAB is about far more than the Boardwalk. Geez, just look at the BWIAB Guidebook (hard copies free in most local establishments during the week itself, but it was also available online) to see all of the scheduled happenings.

But sometimes it is just serendipity that establishes permanent unexpected memories.

This happened on our last morning driving out to Magee Marsh. We had been wanting to stop by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) during our trip, but the parking lot was always full. On this drive-by, I saw a car pulling out. Super! In we went!

What we had not expected was that we were just in time for the bird- banding demo (it was in the schedule, but I did not plan for it...).

Off to one side of the parking lot by the Optics Alley tent, there was a woman presenting birds and a story to a small enthralled crowd. The crowd grew as the demo progressed.

Julie Shieldcastle discusses a White-crowned Sparrow

Close-up of White-crowned Sparrow
Here is a link to my cell phone video of guide Kelly McKinney (yellow hat) and Delaney Hayes showing a couple of freshly-banded birds being to a totally fascinated crowd: 

Cool!!! Great timing!!! Immediately we knew why we were supposed to be there! We probably learned more from the time (hour? hour and a half? - who knows! ...time just "flew by") we were there than from any similar period during BWIAB. It so great to have great stories from great teachers! With living visual aids to boot!

I noticed that the banding itself was happening at a picnic table to the rear of the presentation. I approached and took a few pics with my telephoto. Honestly I missed the first sign that said do not approach. There was another sign nearer to the table that I saw and I kept a respectable distance. Joe Komorowski was banding birds at the table. 

Joe Komorowski at BSBO banding station
Yes, this is important! I note that I was using a telephoto, so only "intruded"optically!
I want to point out now that to become a bird-bander requires certification. Because I have spoken with banders in the past, I know it is not an easy certification to obtain! I am not sure how many banders are certified in the US, but know there are not very many.

The way it worked for the demo was that birds were collected from mist nets set up in an opening somewhere out back in a clearing in the woods, and brought to Joe in special bags to receive their bands. Clips were used to safely hang the bags on the ladder until Joe could get to each one.

Joe with net retrieval experts Dan Meyers, Barb Meyers and Delaney Hayes
Dan hangs a bag on the ladder
... And the bags were all hung on the ladder with care,
in hopes that Joe would soon be there ...
I must mention I loved the tackle box you can see in the pics. As a fisherman, I have always loved the organization a tackle box brings to my brightly colored objects. In fishing, it contains lures and other tackle like split-shots, split-rings, pliers, and an assortment of other goodies. Here I see that a bird-bander's tackle box is not so different. Brightly colored objects (color-coded pliers) and rings (bands) of various sizes. I did not approach to see what other goodies might lurk within, but love the analogy! As a side note, it is worth mentioning that in many countries (like England), banding is called "ringing".

So what of the wooden box? On demo days, I think it is used as temporary housing for banded birds that will be shown to the class.

Birdie apartments
And the "black book"? I really did not think about it then, but a couple weeks later encountered Allen Chartier banding birds in Michigan. I watched as Allen consulted scatter point graphs in his black book to try to determine the species of a flycatcher formerly known as "Traills" but now split into two distinct species. The book is The Identification Guide to North American Birds: Part 1 and Part 2 by Peter Pyle. The USGS Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) uses this as a standard and notes: "...(these) are landmark volumes, and with few exceptions are to be considered the final word on what the BBL/BBO will accept from banders to be incorporated into the main database."

A bander's "black book"  with a clip with bands on top
Geez! I am SO glad that we "regular birders" have several options for much smaller field guides with great pics to use as we go about birding!!! But it is really interesting to see how serious professional ornithologists and banders need to be in order to have useful standardized data. Applause to those who qualify to do this!

You can also see a clip with one size of bird bands on top of the book. Each bander carries several sizes of bands to accommodate different sizes of birds. They want the band to fit loosely like a loose bracelet, and not tightly like a watch.

So what happens to a de-bagged bird in hand?

First it is weighed. Joe is using a funnel. This restricts the bird and not only stops it from wiggling, but also prevents any harm. The funnel and cup in which it is placed are "tared out" (meaning that first the scale is set to zero with both of these empty). The bird is placed in the funnel and weighed. Its weight is recorded.

Joe weighs a bird
Bird is carefully removed for the next step
Now that the bird is weighed, the band is prepared
The band is applied and its number recorded.
Now the bird has a personal "name" (even tho it is a number).
On future encounters everyone will know where this bird was first banded
Then the bird is measured


Recording - everything "according to Pyle"
(get my pun?)
Finally the bird is autographed?
(Just kidding! Here Joe is evaluating and recording more characteristics!)
After the birds were banded, Julie and her volunteers would take over to share a possibly a once-in-a-lifetime avian encounter with everyone. For many people, the encounter was seeing the birds far closer that ever and having a chance to take great pics. You can see everyone was "involved"!

Julie presents a bird "up close and personal"
Kelly McKinne shows a bird to the crowd
Kelly presents a Magnolia Warbler
The Magnolia might make the news!
Kristina Smith from a local paper shoots a bird
I could tell that my lovely wife Judy was really enjoying the show!
 And it was so great to see kids involved!

Delaney Hayes records the moment.
Delaney was helping with the banding but took a photo op for herself

Geez! Look at the future of birding! Binocs, two cams, and a steady hand!
Love the intensity!
Young birders indeed! With the tools to support their passion!
It really amazed me to see some kids so well optically equipped. Power to the parents who support them!

But here fighting through my "lens envy", I note that it is really the support that matters! Kids (and adults) do not need "big glass" to be birders. Yes, you need a good pair of binoculars. And, yes, a camera will help capture the moment! But a camera can range from a cell phone to a "point-and-shoot" with more resolution. And, studying the bird and sketching it is even better! It causes you to study more intensely and record an infinite number of images in your mind that a point-in-time-pic never would. I have enjoyed many wonderful sketches that I have seen from "kid-birders" - and note, for example, that most famous birders like Kenn Kaufman and David Allen Sibley started this way. But many of us do not think we can do it. Yes, we can!

And yes, you will want a field guide. But beyond that, what you really need is interest! Parents: please support your kids' interests! And, note that birding and communing with Nature will also reduce your stress and lower your blood pressure far more than almost any other endeavor! Win, win!

And yes, we all need some positive feedback along the way! Kids can get it from their supportive parents, and obviously the kids in these pictures have support. But for adults or beginning birders at all levels, support is available to us as well! It was this support that made me a birder. I started by taking photos and then asked a question that changed my life: "What is this bird?" By chance a neighbor was looking at my pics and told me of the Michigan birder's mailing list (a "listserv") from University of Michigan administered by Bruce Bowman. I signed up. When I had a question, someone on the list always responded. Birders are great that way! Later I found a listserv for Ohio. You can probably find one in your part of the country.

Since that time many "groups" have sprung up on Facebook. For my area, I subscribe to Birding Michigan and Birding Ohio, but I am again sure you can find one local to you. Warning! Birding will (wonderfully) change your life!

(... oh, did I do a "ramble"? Well, it is one of my trademarks ... Anyway back to the banding day:)

Another nice thing about "kid birders".  Like "accomplished" birders, they love to share!
I have  a special place in my heart for those whom I affectionately call "kid birders". However they have arrived at fulfilling a passion of theirs, they are great resources for us all. I often think of the line "and a child will lead us". I am FB friends with a few. I see many posting on the listservs. And whenever in the filed, I have been delightfully amazed by their knowledge and sharing, and have learned so much from them! "You want to see it? Right here in my scope". "That's a whazzit bird - you can tell by ..." Indeed, teach me; lead me to being a better birder!

Another fun thing that happened at the bird banding was that I observed a pretty woman across the way - actually behind the "show" for most of the time. The audience had grown quite large by that time. She was wearing a badge with a "press" ribbon beneath. (I had a ribbon as a volunteer from being a blogger, so I notice these things ...).  She wandered over to my side for a better vantage point so she could get more pics.

The news coverage for the BWIAB is amazing! Not only local, but also national!  It is so wonderful to have newspaper, radio, and TV coverage to support birding! It sometimes amazes me that BWIAB get so much. Not only lots in the local papers, on local radio and TV, but also nationally. Yes that makes great sense locally because of the huge financial impact on the economy during migration. But also nationally? Indeed, birding is huge! Great - so great!

For example, it was fun to see Kim Kaufman on the local TV news as Judy and I  were eating dinner at Blackberry Corners near Magee Marsh. Kim (from BSBO) is the real "spark-plug" behind BWIAB and has done a great job in promoting it. Not only are birders very welcomed to the area, but many locals have become birders thru her efforts. So cool!

Anyway, I urged the news-lady to stand in front of me for better pics.  It was nice chatting with her! Her name is Kristina Smith and she works for the Port Clinton News Herald. She got some better pics from her new vantage point - and a few quotes from me (that was fun!) - then went off for her interview with the BSBO folks. And, yes, out of curiosity, I did look up her article. And, surprisingly (and wonderfully), she quoted me. Geez! My name in the paper! (Click on the highlighted phrase to see the article)

Here is another pic I took of Kristina when she was on the other side of the show. I later learned from Judy that the guy next to Kristina is the father of the "big lens girl". He is also very photogenic. Movie star? Not matter a whit - we were all just birders really enjoying the presentation!

I coined a new term (but have no idea how to best spell it): fashionaviisita! Needs hyphens! It is easier to pronounce than spell! Fashion-avi-ista. High fashion in the birder's world! My word is like fashionista with birds being central to the whole nomen. Pretty young woman. It was so nice to see a young news reporter interested in the world of Nature and birds in particular! I hope she continues to have the opportunity to report important events like BWIAB! I really enjoyed our chat and learning of her interest!

OK. I think I started off by mentioning that this event was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event for some people? Check this out!

Wow! I think I am holding a bird!
Fly birdie!
(You can see the bird just above her head on the left)
Pure joy from the experience!!!
That young girl's face says it all!

Yes, me too! That is how I feel about this whole encounter! There are SO many during The Biggest Week in American Birding!

I rest my ramble ... Hope you liked!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Biggest Week in American Birding - How to tell birds and birders at Pearson Metro Park

First post of several posts from our annual trip to northwest Ohio ... This will be a "quickie and cutie".

(...well ..., now in review and retrospect, probably not a quickie ...far too many stories to tell and memories to relate ...)   But, really I have great Judy pics herein to share! Keep reading ...

OK. Tonight I finally finished dumping all our photographic memory cards from The Biggest Week in American Birding to the computer and backing them up on DVDs. Impulsive am I! Gotta have a backup before I proceed. Thank goodness I had my new laptop there and backed up several memory cards before we came home; otherwise I would be even farther behind! (Can you imagine two DVDs each day and thousands of pics?!) I had planned this year to blog from the Biggest Week because I had a laptop, but I'll tell you, birding really can be exhausting! Up fairly early. No naps (!!!). And, there are always more places to visit and birds to see before we could quit each day! And then, there is the need to eat and sleep! I just had no more energy each day ...

But sometimes when we were tired out, we knew we could count on Pearson Metro Park in Oregon Ohio for a restful place to sit and bird. We especially love the Window on Wildlife! Several Ohio Metro Parks have them! Feeders out and filled. Pearson is only about a mile from the Holiday Inn Express where we stayed. (BTW applause to the Holiday Inn that had special birder rates and supports birding in the area - highly recommend!) We had one "recovery day" at Pearson MP mid-week, and then went back the morning we were leaving. We love this place! These pics are all from the last morning.

Another "shout out" to this Oregon Holiday Inn. As last year, they had the BWIAB Guide welcoming us in the lobby (Love it! Welcome indeed!), but this year they also had their own special poster welcoming birders. I really liked the poster's presence, but never really enjoyed the subtlety of it until our last morning where I was looking more closely at one over breakfast. (And yes I always used to read cereal boxes ...) Huh? I had to go closer to appreciate ... What was the "fine print"? Super! Very cute!!!

Holiday Inn poster. Cool!

Gotta love it! I gotta post on "Facebird"!
And I need to add huge applause for Kimberley Kaufman from Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) for really involving the local businesses in recognizing the HUGE impact birders have to the local economy, and arranging special rates at the Holiday Inn (they were sold out for the entire festival)!!! These guys at the hotel understand!!!

Yes, we met SO many "locals" who 'sort of' knew about local birding there, but had never done it yet, but they are now thinking about it. Plant the seeds - they will grow! We planted many seeds as well  ... We were "out and about" and dropping BSBO birder cards and expressing our excitement as we went. What fun to talk birding!!! It seemed everyone was receptive!

[... And I thought this post will be a "quickie and cutie"... What do I know what will happen when I start up ... I cannot help myself ... "rambling" is my trademark!...]

It was also fun when I was talking to a "good ol' boy" from Galveston TX out front at the hotel about my former primary passion of fishing. It all started because I liked his shirt for Hook Spit lures (love the name!). He showed me pics of the love of his life on his cell phone. No, not wife or kids, but his boat! A "flats boat". I learned a lot! His boat with a 150 hp big motor runs in 4 inches of water!!! Guess they have a way of sucking water that allows the props work on thru tubes  - not an air-boat, not big props uselessly spinning in mud like they would in the shallows here, but sucking water thru tubes to propel the boat. Very fascinating  - amazing actually!!! And as for birders, he noted that all the fishing guides in Galveston forgo fishing in the fall - and especially winter -to take birders out to see the migrating birds!!! Much more profitable than fishing! VERY fascinating!!! Always learning am I!

Hey! I want to do both!!!

Geez! Here I went again! Tonight  I just wanted to do a "quickie", but memories  keep flooding in! We had SO much fun! I will add more pics from Pearson later on in another post. Great stuff for lazy birding! Busy Indigo Buntings and two "lifers" to share!!! (Stay tuned for more pics. Great stuff! This is just another "Dr. Bob  ramble" tonight ...)

OK. Back on track. - like how I  started to write my "ramble".

While dumping photo cards tonight, the last card was Judy's card from the morning we were leaving. I think the pics tell a cute story and wanted to tell it. These are all Judy's pics from her Canon SX50 "point-and-shoot" (Great cam!).  I just LOVE my wife and birding companion!!! I think it is totally fun and appropriate to highlight her pics of our adventure on our last day! She "done good" and gave me a great story to write tonight!!!

So here goes. The captions tell my thoughts. (... read the captions!!! They tell the story related to the title!).  Judy and I love it all!!!

Not birding

Not bird
Fox (our first ever in wilds!!!)
Not fox
Birders (BWIAB trip to Pearson)
Not birders (cops training their "working dogs")
Pearson MP is a park for all - as are many other outdoors spots. It is SO wonderful to just see folks enjoying the outdoors! This place encourages everyone! During the BWIAB we met many birders there, but also so many others. And the many more times and places at which we share our birding passions with others, the more future birders we entice to try it for themselves! Even if not bringing new birders into the fold, Pearson MP is a great place to be out and about in Nature and just enjoy the heck out of every minute we are alive!. Judy really captured the essence I share here!!! Gotta love my woman!!!

Geez! Here I went again! I just wanted to do a quickie! I will add more pics from Pearson later on in another post. Great stuff for lazy birding! Busy Indigo Buntings and two "lifers" there!!!

Stay tuned for more. This is just another "Dr. Bob  ramble"...

Hope y'all enjoyed!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Backyard Birding - If you cannot make it to Magee Marsh for migrant birding, Love the birds you're with!

After reading the recent great short article by Kenn Kaufman in Audubon magazine, an older song by Stephen Stills stuck in my mind. "Love the One You're With"! It is still (intended pun) stuck there! Gotta blog it out - but not sure if even a blog post will move it to the hind-brain. Great song! Playing now on Doc Bob's brain! (Sorry, subscriptions unavailable ...)

I paraphrased his song a bit below. I am thinking about the many birds we will be seeing at Magee Marsh and surrounding areas during the Biggest Week in American Birding. It starts next week! Migration is ON!

If you're down and confused
And you don't remember who you're talking to
Concentration slips away
Because your birds are so far away

And if you can't be with the Magee birds you love, honey
Love the birds you're with,

Love the birds you're with!

See! Now it is stuck in your mind as well (assuming you are of some age and musical predilection ...) So there!

Yes, Magee birds are so far away (relatively speaking ... the drive for us is about 5 hours round trip, (but I know many of y'all are much farther away...)  Indeed, gotta love the birds you are with! Yes,we are missing many migrants at Magee right now, but Judy and I can only afford to be away so long. And, we really need to just "do stuff" here first.

And yes, we could be spending more time in our "extended yard" like the local city parks and Metro Parks within an hour's drive near us; and yes, we are missing possibly great birding now. And yes, from Facebook I DO know we are missing a bunch! On the the hand, I have learned that on any given day with decent weather, I really just want to get out and bird. Especially at this time of year!

But then the next day, I look at my "to do list" and see that I really am at the same place I was the day before. Oh, what have I done? "Birding hangover"?

Regrets? Never about birding! Behind? Yes, maybe...

But I had fun! I think I am starting to learn something about my "birding demons" and sometimes try to think about sacrificing immediate avian gratification for better days in the future. So I sometimes need to force myself to stay home and "just do".

[Aside: besides checking out the main website for Biggest Week, be sure to check out the online Guide! You will find free copies of the Guide at lots of local lodging and other establishments in nw Ohio when you get there  -  it is available now! But it is great to read it before you go! BTW, be sure to see page 16 (just page thru it - by clicking on right arrows -  it goes fast!) that references Biggest Week bloggers and has links to their blogs! Yes I am quite honored and self-serving here as being a Biggest Week Blogger, but these other folks have great year-around blogs (bookmark them!) about birding, and they now are turning their attentions to the Biggest Week).]

[And another aside: if you want to see more of what is going on at Magee, and also see predictions of possibly great days to be there, check out Kenn's Crane Creek blog!]

 ...  Back from your friendly sponsors (it could be called an ad, but that is just how my mind works...)  to "ramble" further:

But being never one to deny most of life's pleasures, I gotta get my "bird fix" every day. It can be as simple as recording my deck birds over morning coffee. I do this daily. And also often in the afternoon while I am fixing dinner. I never know what each session will bring! Sure, I mostly see House Sparrows and the pesky squirrels that limit the birds that come while they are there. And this time of year, the Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles and Cow Birds. But visits by my Downy Woodpeckers (is it the girl or the guy?) on the suet, and American Goldfinches (Geez! How bright yellow the guys are becoming!) on the thistle feeder brighten up my observations. And ... then there are the "you never know what you will see if you feed them they will come" birds.

This week the Baltimore Orioles arrived. There are at least three males and one female hitting the oranges, hummer feeders (still awaiting first hummer) and the suet. Whoo Hoo! I am "taking names"! Well, actually I am making up names for the males to try to distinguish them and see how many different birds I see. This one is "White Wings".Some nest here around the condo property.

Also this week a migrant dropped by the deck - White-crowned Sparrow! I have seen them here before, but not at all last year. Whoo Hoo!!! A rare sighting on the deck - only during migration! I had two on the same day this year. These guys only came by on that one day! Best pics ever ... then gone up north to do their sexy thing showing their great patterns to each other! I am SO glad some other birds had kicked out seeds onto the deck to grab their attention long enough for pics!!! I doubt they ever feed from hanging feeders. I then put some seeds directly on the deck itself like I do for  the winter Juncos and American Tree Sparrows with similar habits, but by then these were long gone. Super duper cool!!!

And a short walk around our property this week yielded a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in addition to several "butter butts" (Yellow-rumped Warblers). I am very sure I could have picked up many more migrants here if I had gone out more, but we are "doing".

And today - as I was photographing the Orioles - I looked up to see a "weird duck" in the back. It was at the same place near our neighbor's feeders where the Mallards daily feed. Fortunately I had camera in hand! I took a sequence of pics of a Coopers Hawk with a fresh caught Blue Jay prey (...damn I wish hawks and feral cats would eat the House Sparrows and not the pretty more vulnerable ones!!!). My pics were my first ever shots of an adult Coopers!

We can hardly wait to get down to northwest Ohio for the Biggest Week! This year in addition to birds, I want to take pics to compare places on the boardwalk with my recent blog post when fewer people were there. I know many outdoors folks hate crowds (as we do) and I addressed that in my post. Really! Check it out. I enumerated many great reasons to go there during the Biggest Week. We missed everyone!

If you have never been there before during migration, I can almost guarantee dozens of "life birds". And if you have, certainly you will catch lots of new ones!!! That is the fun of birding.

The phrase that accompanies Judy and me whenever/wherever we go out and about is "you never know" ... sung to the tune of some silly Muppets song:  Mahnamahna Mahnamahna, or as we sing  it... "You never know; Da doot the doo dit!; You never know!!! Do doot the doo! You never know. Da doot the doo dit. Da doo dit, Da doo dit , Da doot doot doot doot doot ..."  I was going to link to it, but suspect some links presented by search engines. "You never know" ...  Well, y'll know what I mean!

Damn! Now THAT song is stuck in my brain! "You never know"... Will I ever be relieved?

Even if you will not be at Magee, go check out your "home boys" birds!!! Especially now during migration! Birding is whatever you choose!!! Wherever you choose! All fun!!!

Keep your feeders full and your mind and hopes alive to possibilities. Keep your eyes to the outdoors and take a walk around YOUR place when you can.

Always love the ones you're with!!! "You never know, Da doot the doo dit!"

Oh! It is just too much fun for one person like me to handle alone! Please share your adventures with others and with me!!! Go bird! Share birding! A gift everyone will appreciate for a life time!!! And ... as you see, you do not have to go far to see great birds!!! Hope to meet many of y'all at the Bighset Week!!!

Hope you enjoyed another "Dr. Bob Ramble"! I never know, Mahnamahna and so on ...  I done it! Da doot doot doot doot doot!!!

( ... in review, weird how I started and ended with musical da doot ...! Some da doot thing still playing ...I guess )

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Missing at Magee Marsh last week

Judy and I went to Magee Marsh (NW Ohio) and surrounds last week on Thursday (4/24/2014) to see birds and also to help us rekindle our memories and plan our longest trip ever during The Biggest Week In American Birding.

We saw some good birds, but here my post is about what was missing. Interesting! I stress missing! Yes I know many folks are like us and hate crowds, and yes, we chose to not go during the first year we learned about the Biggest Week because we knew there would be many people there. But now we always want to be there right in the middle of the whole international amazing event! This was a  fun trip to catch "early birds" and plan what we wanted for our longer trip in a week.

I guarantee it will NOT look like this in a week or so! In fact, judging from more recent birder's posts on Facebook and list servers, I do not think it looks like this now ...

(Note that most pics are from my cell phone. A really cool device that takes pics for scale when a larger lens does not have a story to tell!)
Entrance to Magee Marsh boardwalk!
Guarantee it will not look like this in the next few days or weeks!
In fact, very rare that it looks like this ever!
From near the entrance to boardwalk looking at roped-off area by nesting eagle
(black dot in tree - and, yes, Momma was home)
Where IS everyone??? Is this "for real"? Our car - alone? At Magee Marsh?

Can you believe it? Early migration at Magee? 

There were few people there - less than a couple dozen. Yes, it was early, and yes, some folks like to come earlier to avoid crowds like we did our first year. And also some folks like to catch the early migrants. But we really missed many things that will happen during the Biggest Week!

Only one birder near the newly-refurbished tower area by the entrance.
Hey! Your donations really help!!!
We saw many areas where they were able to fix up the boardwalk because of donations!
Looking great in some areas, but we also saw some areas that need help.Keep donating, please!!!

For example:

1) We missed all the "eyes"! During the Biggest Week there are so many people who are watching a bird and share its exact location with everyone. We were basically on our own!

Judy is happy we are there!
And it is always nice to be out and about alone with her,
but where IS everyone??
2) We missed all the good birders who tell us the name of the bird we are looking at! Yes, in a way it is "cheating" - I sort of think I should have done it on my own by using the guidebooks - but if I took the time to try to look it up, the bird would be long gone! Far better to make notes and memories, and then to look it up later! Far better to have a name (I guess I am really compulsive about names ...) and have the time to really study its patterns and coloration, and take a few pics, and then to later compare my recollections and pics (assuming they turn out ...) with the half-dozen books I carry in the car.

3) We missed meeting so many friends in the same place at the same time! Many of our birding friends are Facebook friends, and many of them we have yet to meet. It is always more  fun to "bird" with our friends!

4) We missed counting license plates from so many states. It is amazing how many state plates we usually see there! Of less than a dozen cars in the Magee lot, we saw West Virginia and Georgia plates, and later met a couple from Maryland when we were dining at Blackberry Corners. Bring on the migrant plates! Fun!

5) We missed many bird species. Indeed we were a tad early for the "big show". But we got some great birds anyway!

6) We missed the "ears" to tell us what songs we were hearing. Actually I am not really good with bird songs, and being older,  I probably do not even hear many of them, but is fascinating that someone will say they heard a "whatever bird". What talent! Often I DO learn. It was great that just as I was hearing the sound I call a "jungle sound" (I knew I had learned that before but could not place it) that a birder was walking by, and when the bird "fired up" again he said it was a Northern Flicker. Yes, I knew I had heard that before - just need to recharge my ears each year. Thanks!

7 And, of course we missed all the scheduled activities of the Biggest Week like the walks and talks and trips and all the things that come with registration. Maybe these are the best learning opportunities of all! But, we are registered and ready to take full advantage of all the great stuff that starts in slightly more than a week. Many events are already fully reserved, but especially the great talks and seminars might still be available at registration at the conference center (internet registration is closed).


We saw some great birds and took a few of our best pics ever - especially of the very cooperative Prothonotary Warbler! (Well worth the trip itself!)

And, interestingly, we picked up our own copies of the Biggest Week Guide at the motel as we checked out. I knew we are among the first to get a "hard copy" because it was not there the day before! Cool! When you get there you can get your own FREE copy at many local establishments. I think that is SO welcoming that when you arrive at a lodging they have Biggest Week guides by the counter! Welcome indeed!!! Yes, the guide has been on the web in electronic form for awhile, and I would highly recommend you use the web version to help plan your trip, but having this lovely guide in hand is far better than on the electronic bush! Great job on the guide everyone!!!

(BTW, this humble blogger has a photo and reference to my blog on page 16 - an honor I do not take lightly!).

Happy with a first hard copy of  BWIAB Visitor's Guide!

Since you made it this far, I will reward you with a couple more pics. Thanks for reading!

Here's Judy at "Prothonotary Junction".  I call it that because this beautiful warbler had been hanging around there (Thanks to the cool birder who pointed it out to us and who had watched it for at least a half hour the day before!). The bird made many similarly long visits since - based on the blog from Jerry Jourdan a couple days later and also Kim Smith's blog about seeing the bird the day before. I suspect it so far might be the record for the most photographed bird this year!!! Who knows what will happen during the Biggest Week!!!
On our way back from walking the boardwalk.
Bird left and people left. But we learned the bird came back for the "show" the next day!
Prothonotary Warbler - Judy SX50 pic
Her best ever! And the best for either of us!!!
Great gift to us from a great  bird!

Yes, I took a few myself. Also my best ever. But I wanted to showcase Judy's photo! Even one photo like this is well worth the drive and time spent!!! Great place and great time!!!

Hope to see you all there and to meet our friends again!!!