Tuesday, April 27, 2010

West Virginia’s New River Birding and Nature Festival - Days 1 and 2

I am spending this week in the New River Plateau area of West Virginia. The New River Birding and Nature Festival is based out of Fayetteville, WV. So far the first two days of the festival have been outstanding.

Day 1 was held at the Meadows House at the Opossum Creek Resort. The theme for day 1 was Birding by Butt. However, we didn’t spend a lot of time sitting around. The day is intended for full week participants to have a chance to meet other guests, our hosts, and the guides. The morning started off with a pre-breakfast walk lead by Jim McCormac. Highlights were singing Northern Parulas, Ovenbirds, Hooded Warblers, and Scarlet Tanager. After the walk we returned to the Meadows for a breakfast of smoked-salmon strata, buckwheat pancakes, and fruit compote. I’m not sure which was better, the birds or the food.

After breakfast we headed back outside for more exploration. Bill Hilton was banding birds on the property and managed to catch a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in his ingenious trap.

Here is a photo of Bill with a “sheet” of hummingbird bands that must be cut out and formed. There are 160 bands on the sheet.

For comparison there are the bands that would be used on larger birds like robins and towhees.

Because the bands are so small, a special tool is needed to form the band.

Here is a photo of the formed band in hand.

To hold the hummingbird while working, it is inserted into a tube head first. The tube is made from an index card.

The little hummer is banded.

The hummingbird is measured and weighed and given some food before being released.

Here is a close up the hummer before release.

Day 2 of festival was the first for offsite field trips. I was in the New River Circuit trip where we toured the old road and bridge that used to be the only way across the New River before the famous arch bridge was completed in 1978. It is hard to believe that this narrow and twisty road used to hold two-way traffic. Now it is reduced to one-way in the lowest part. Because fog settles into the valley, we spent a lot time in the fog which limited photo opportunities. Once we got below the fog, it was better.

We were rewarded with more great birds including Worm-eating Warbler which only netted bad photos and a very cooperative Yellow-throated Warbler.

Here is a raw photo of the Yellow-throated Warbler.

And here it is cropped and zoomed.

I’m tired but I'm looking forward to day 3. Tomorrow I’m off on the high country trip. I’ll update as I get time.

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, Eric. It was good to meet you at the festival. :-)