Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WV's Waterfalls and Warblers

Just before leaving for the New River Birding and Nature Festival, I hesitated, wondering what on earth I was doing.  I'm going to see warblers, I thought.  I'm going all the way to West Virginia to see tiny gray specks in the tops of trees.  
Now, that I've returned, I'm marveling at how much I learned during that short week.  New bird songs, for one thing, and imprinted images of new bird species.  And each time I sit down to describe a day at the festival, I don't know where to begin.  My mind churns with people, places and, of course, birds--not tiny gray specks of birds, but great looks at warblers, many of them singing on breeding territory.  

My second day in the field began with a trip to Kanawha Falls, pictured below, near where the New and Gauley Rivers unite to form the Kanawha River.  From there we traveled up to nearby mountain ridges.  
It was along these ridges that our two expert guides handed us warbler after warbler.  First it was a Cerulean  landing in the top of a tree, cascading down the canopy limbs, lower and lower, until he was nearly at eye level.
Then the brightly colored Hooded Warbler, pictured below, who posed long enough to allow great photos.
And below, the bird of the day, this sweet Swainson's, so quiet and still, perched deep in the shadows of the rhododendrons.  All of these warblers were first-time species for me.  All of them near enough, low enough that I could feel the satisfaction of recognition and even glimpse their behavior.    
Below, at Cathedral Falls, you see our expert guides for the day, Paul Shaw (left) and Wil Hershberger, who enabled us to get these great looks, even allowing me to bring home a few reference photos for my sketchbook.
And below, meet Miss Susan-Kailholz Williams (left), sitting beside me.  Susan, from Ohio, is nature blogger and "Flock" organizer extraordinaire.  It was this lady's enthusiasm for the New River Festival and her arrangements for the Flock gathering, that enticed me to join the festival this year, providing a wonderful opportunity not only to bird with some of the best, but meet some extraordinarily talented people.  

More fun people and birds, coming up.

Related Links and resources:
National Park Service, New River Gorge Website
Susan Kailholz-Williams--Susan Gets Native

To see all my posts on the New River Birding and Nature Festival click here.  To see more about how these sketchbook pages were created visit The Search for a Swainson's Warbler at Vickie's Sketchbook.

10 comments:

  1. I am so enjoying reading your posts and seeing your photos of the places I saw last year. It's such a remarkable place. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself there.

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  2. ...loved this post. Your painting of the Cerulean is gorgeous. I hope to go on this trip one of these years. When Matty heads off to college I think it will be my turn. Love the photo of the Hooded Warbler...so unique!

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  3. what fun, and what beautiful scenery!

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  4. Why, look what you did with those fine photographs! You painted! I haven't even unpacked. Good job!

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  5. "Sit like a lady!"
    :)
    What a great day...my best of the whole week.

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  6. What a wonderful little waterfall, the birds are great too.

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  7. Beautiful paintings and beautiful photos! The waterfall is sensational!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventure with us! I have learned about various warblers through your blog....I enjoy pine warblers in my yard in Georgia.

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  9. A fun and beautiful post, Vickie! I really enjoyed your watercolors...and especially liked the Cerulean Warbler! Beautiful color!

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  10. I love your painting of the Red Wing Blackbird. I have seen many birds here in Maine, but the other day on my nature walk, I saw a Red Wing for the first time. It was sparring with a crow in mid-air. Such an interesting interaction between the two birds. Your paintings and photos are very naturally soft and delightful.

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