Thursday, May 5, 2011

Curious people are my favorite

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, I'm currently in West Virginia at the New River Birding and Nature Festival, a week long festival of blissful birding, botanizing and other enjoyments of nature, ecology and natural history.

There are many, many great aspects to this festival, one of which is that we all have one thing in common: a curiosity for the natural world. It might be just birds, or birds and plants, or birds and plant and moths... no matter what the subject matter is, everyone is here to learn something and see something new, and to experience nature in all her glory.

Since I am naturally very curious myself, it makes sense that I like to hang out with other folks who are curious, too. When the curiosity is over a shared interest, then we understand perfectly why a group of people would choose to stand around and look up in the trees for a long, long time in search of a bird.

But for all the time we spend looking up in the trees for birds, we spend almost an equal amount of time looking at the ground for any number of things. Insects. Plants.

Nina photographing cinnamon fern fiddleheads.

Poop Scat.

Geoff Heeter photographs Jim McCormac photographing bear scat.

Not only do we look at poop scat (we need to be adult and professional about this, right?), we get EXCITED about it. This was a big fresh black bear pie. Our field experts estimated it was a few days old, and it was mostly comprised of leafy green vegetation. It didn't take long for the serious investigation to begin. You will notice in the photo above that the fellow in the top left corner is coming at the pile with a stick. It was by prodding into the pile that we could get an idea of what the bear had been eating.

Of course, when you have a find this good, you have to share it with everyone!

Our intrepid scat sniffer and co-trip leader for the day, Rudy Gelis. If you ever want to go birding in Ecuador, Rudy's your man.

So, yeah... curious folk are cool. So is this festival. I'll tell you all the other reasons why in the coming week.


Frank said...

As my grandmother would say "There's nothing so queer as folk"!
Looking forward to the follow ups Heather. FAB.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Heee-larious! That has to be the definitive photo of Rudy! What a treat he is. And what a treat this post is. I love Jimmy Mac prostrating himself before the scatpile.