american redstart. cerulean warbler. brown- and yellow-billed cuckoos. blue- and golden-winged warblers. hooded warbler. pileated woodpecker. spotted sandpiper. field sparrow. broad-winged hawk. scarlet tanager… just a few of the many beautiful life birds i added to my list.
susan kailholz-williams. beth russell. laura hardy. jay davis. beth goffe. kathi hutton. lynne schoenborn. nina harfmann. heather aubke. julie zickefoose. bill thompson III. vicki luker. dawn fine… some of the many incredible people with whom i shared the pleasure of birding.
thursday, may 5. friday, may 6. saturday, may 7. sunday, may 8… the dates of some of the most amazing days of my life.
if ever there was an appropriate time for the use of the word "verklempt," it would be when attempting to describe the feeling one has while immersed in the experience of west virginia's new river birding and nature festival. nestled in the breathtaking mountains of the aforementioned state, new river gorge is nature's best-kept secret. sheltered from the caustic push of "progress," it is a refuge for the soul, a healing elixir for the heart, a respite for the mind…in addition to serving as a rest stop for several species of winged travelers on the long road north from central and south america. while the birds were certainly a major part of this festival—and the reason most, if not all, of the attendees were there in the first place—there were other factors involved in turning the "event" into an unforgettable "experience."
the lodging. a charming two-story cabin ensconced in a lush, green depression, boasting its own creek which wound its way through the backyard noncommittally, an amazing view of the fertile hillside from the back deck, a dead tree whose snags served as a convenient perch for two amorous red-shouldered hawks, and my favorite part of this home-away-from-home…the hot tub, from within whose tension-relieving recesses one could see more stars than the mind could comprehend.
this is also where i was introduced to some amazing people—"the flock," a clutch of intelligent, talented, like-minded individuals with a penchant for the beauty and wonder of nature and an encyclopedia of knowledge about the inhabitants therein—whose warm acceptance of me into their circle left me feeling as though i was among family. even though i had just met them, i felt like i had known them forever. they contributed greatly to the overall experience, and i can't imagine new river without them. susan, beth r, beth g, jay, laura, nina, heather, kathi, vicki, dawn, lynn, debra (and anyone else i may have left out—i'm not terribly good with names and there were a lot of people to remember)…thank you.
by now, some of you are probably wondering if i actually saw any birds on this birding trip. well, i did; more than i can even recall (did i mention i'm bad with names?). so many, in fact, that i'm creating a separate post just for them. yes, you will probably have to wait a week or so for this post, as there are hundreds of pictures from which to choose (and some id'ing that needs to take place) before it sees the light of day. something to look forward to, though: it will be very heavy on images and most likely very light on words. *sounds of cheering, clapping, whistling, and other festive noises erupt nationwide in a celbratory chorus* :|