Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting ready

In less than 2 weeks, I will be taking off on the adventure of a lifetime. I will be birding with the pros, gathering with old friends, and making new friends. I will be getting warbler neck and doing the Life Bird Boogie more times than I can count. I'll be up and at 'em well before the crack of dawn, eating breakfast around the crack of dawn, and start birding right around dawn. I will hear and see so much cool stuff that I imagine my brain might shut down temporarily due to overstimulation. And that will just be on the first day!

These are the kinds of things that I have to look forward to when I head to my southeastern neighbor-state of West Virginia for a week for the New River Birding and Nature Festival in early May. I'll be staying in a cabin the woods at Opossum Creek Retreat, and I imagine it will feel a lot like home - except I bet the birding will be a little better!

In the mean time, I've got some studying to do. I can't possibly hope to go in knowing all of the birds that we might come across during the trip, but I am going to focus my efforts on learning the wood warblers, both by sight and by song. This is one of my many birding weak spots, and I plan to make it less of a weak spot, both for the sake of this trip and just for my own personal knowledge.

I have a number of super helpful resources to consult for my studies, including Jim McCormac's Birds of Ohio, the Sibley Guide to eastern North American birds, the Warblers of Ohio CD guidebook (and CD) from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, and my trusty iBird app on my iPod, along with CDs of birdsongs that I have downloaded to said iPod. Oh, and let's not forget the vast array of information available on the interwebs!

I have been casually listening to songs by headphones while at work, but in the evening I try to do some old-fashioned homework by reading about the birds, taking notes, and studying photos and drawings of them. Hopefully by the time I find myself out in the middle of wooded West Virginia, I'll at least be able to identify half of the wood warbler species without too much trouble. If nothing else, I'll just stand and stare in awe, and I'll smile and nod when someone tells me what I'm seeing and hearing. That's okay too.

Wish me luck with my studying!


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I look forward to meeting you there!

Heather said...

Me, too, Lynne! You're rooming with KatDoc, right? See you soon!

A.L. Gibson said...

Any specific species you REALLY have your hopes and heart set on seeing? Hope you have a fantastic time! Will you be at Flora-Quest by chance?

KaHolly said...

I'm certainly envious of your opportunity!!! And, looking forward to hearing all about it! Have fun! ~karen

nina said...

You're so disciplined, Heather--I admire your routine.
I've tried to get a good start on what we'll be seeing, too, but in reality, I know I'll be the one nodding...so much of the detail will blur when I'm face-to-face with a pretty little bird.
It's okay.
Every bit you learn in advance just makes the experience richer.

Back to the zips and flips and buzzes....

Jen said...

I am super impressed with your studying! I have been thinking about doing something similar for an upcoming trip to the east coast where I will meet all kinds of new warblers. Good luck!!

Red said...

Look forward to hearing about your trip. You've got my undivided attention!

Heather said...

Andrew - Swainson's Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, um... lot's more actually - my life list has a lot of room to grow! Sorry, I won't be at FQ this year, but I know that you will have a FABULOUS time there!!

Karen - I'll think of you every time I get a life bird!

Nina - If only the discipline were daily... it comes in fits and starts. But at least my ears will be a little more "open." I hope!

Jen - Have fun on your trip. Where are you going?

Red - Hopefully my posts when I return will be able to do the trip justice!

RuthieJ said...

Good luck & most of all, have fun! One of these years, I hope I can make it to New River.

Heather said...

Ruthie - Thanks, I will have some extra fun just for you! I hope you can make it some day, too. I love Ohio with all my heart, but West Virginia is pretty special, too.