Friday, June 8, 2007

Birds on a wire…or is that birders on a rail?

“Pileated crossing the road,” Diane screamed around a bite of cookie. The quiet young man across the aisle looked up with amazement. A giant black and white bird with a red crest zoomed across the street in front of the bus. There was no time to get the binoculars on the bird before it disappeared into the woods. Everyone sighed, and then the chatter began again. I high-fived Diane. “Excellent. Good eye.”

I was at the 2nd annual Sussex County Birding and Nature festival this past weekend. It was in Vernon, NJ at the new Appalachian Hotel. The festival was Saturday and Sunday. There were birding trips, full or half day, as well as dragonfly and butterfly walks.

I went on a full-day birding trip on Saturday to Stokes State Forest and a half-day trip on Sunday to local Vernon hotspots. The special thing about this festival is all of the breeding birds. I did not see anything new-new but seeing the birds setting up house is great. One of the highlights was a neck-craning view of a Blackburnian Warbler. We also had very good looks at a Pewee (you usually hear them), a Chestnut-sided Warbler and all the locally breeding vireos. We saw many Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. I don’t know what our totals were, I wasn’t keeping track, but I would guess for the weekend it was in the 200s.

Next year I am going on one of the dragonfly walks. I discovered that Sussex County, NJ has more species of dragonflies than any other county in North America. Hey, finally a bug that does not bite, or sting, or crave blood in any fashion.

The festival was lots of fun. I saw people I had not seen in a while, birds I had not seen in a while and met some new friends. Put it on your calendar for next year.

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