This past weekend, Friday May 13th through Sunday May 15th has been the VSO's (Virginia Society of Ornithology) annual meeting/conference. One of the clubs I'm part of, the Rockingham Bird Club hosted the conference this year. Friday was a registration and business meeting day. Two of my birding friends from the area, Diane Lepkowski and Greg Moyers gave an excellent presentation with many great photos that both Greg and Diane took plus maps of all the field trip locations (field trips Saturday and Sunday) and the likely birds, length of trips, etc. Awesome job Diane and Greg, thanks!
Many different field trips were offered Saturday and Sunday (today) mornings. We (my mom and I) were able to pick two trips, one Saturday and one Sunday.
On Saturday, we had to wake up at an early 5:30 am for the field trip departing at 7. My tummy wasn't feeling too right and I was REALLY tired. I had a bit of a rough time for a minute, but after that cleared up I was able to really, really enjoy an awesome field trip to the Bother Knob Area, in the mountains of Western Rockingham County. Our main target bird was Red Crossbill, because several have been seen since January in that area, at one parking area. Upon arrival at the crossbill location, no crossbills were seen. We stayed in our cars, my mom and I were riding with William Leigh, the trip leader and a nice man from Wild Virginia. William and I had the windows rolled down to listen out for the crossbills. After a few minutes William thought he heard them. Just a few seconds later I called out "birds, two crossbills in that tree!". Two more joined them. We all enjoyed great looks at these Red Crossbills, as they ate, rested, and graveled. A lifer for me! That was such a delight. Another bird I wanted on this trip, another one that would be a lifer for me was Worm-eating Warbler. Several times we thought we heard a "worm" but it turned out to be the common Chipping Sparrow. Driving down the mountain William said something like "oh, I think that's a worm singing over there". We all got out excitedly and after pishing, using trip participant Brenda Tekin's bird IPAD app and used the call of the singing worm, we finally attracted the Worm-eating Warbler in, and I was rewarded with some nice looks and a new life bird. Thanks William and thanks for the app Brenda!
I was 'dog tired' last night and it would have meant a 6:15 am wakeup to do my planned trip this morning, to Switzer Dam. I couldn't do it. My participation on the morning field trip was canceled. I needed to sleep inn. I woke up before 9:00 am and I realized "well, Madison Run is only a 20 minute drive from here, a birding location, and a field trip departed from Harrisonburg for the VSO there at 7:45 am and it would take them at least a half hour to get there, we could go now and do a lot of the walk at Madison Run with them". We got there and got to bird with the group who had recently arrived for the remainder of their walk. We saw some great birds including a Bay-breasted Warbler and I had heard that this location would be good for Acadian Flycatchers which was a life bird I still need. After a while of birding, the leader Bill Benish, heard what he thought was an Acadian. After tracking down the bird we got good looks and heard the bird and confirmed it to be an Acadian Flycatcher. Lifer and year bird # 298 for me!
I give great thanks to everybody who has made this VSO Conference a great success, and my biggest thanks goes out to the following people: Diane Lepkowski for helping with the Friday Night program and helping with the field trips amazingly. Awesome selection of trips, Diane!, Kay Gibson the president of the Rockingham Bird Club for helping to host this event!, the President of the VSO for charing such an awesome organization (sorry, in the moment I can't remember your name), and everybody else: the field trip leaders, the Holiday Inn staff for providing a meeting place for the conference, the registration people, and everybody else for making this event a big success!