Monday, October 17, 2011

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Nov. 9-13

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The famed Rio Grande Valley, at the southernmost tip of Texas, boasts the biggest concentration of tropical birds in the U.S. Its diverse habitats are home to birds and wildlife seldom seen in one place, and the area is well known to birders around the world. If you’ve never been there, it might be hard to know where to begin to see it all. Fortunately for you and me, the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival (RGVBF) puts it all together for us.

Now in its 18th year, the RGVBF is known for its down-home, friendly feel. Started by a group of dedicated volunteers in 1994, this 5-day event is a well-oiled machine, but has never lost its sense of community. I’m lucky enough to be attending for my first time this year with Eagle Optics. I tell you, the buzz about RGVBF around our office has been intensifying in recent weeks, and it has me pretty excited. I’m eagerly anticipating some Texas hospitality, meeting new friends, and having the opportunity to view birds I’ve never seen before. See the list of birds sighted at the 2010 event here, and register for this year's event.

The host city, Harlingen, sits between the Laguna Atascosa and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges, and is the perfect stepping-off point for the numerous field trips available to attendees. But, good luck making your choices! Just a few of the myriad of offerings include bird and raptor banding, butterfly viewing, birding by river pontoon and canoe, shorebird ID, a quest for parrots and parakeets, and trips to King Ranch, South Padre Island, and the nearby state parks and sanctuaries. There are also pre-festival and post-festival trips planned to make the most of your visit!

You’re probably getting the idea of the depth of activities planned. Sit in on the Big Sit! Shop for optics and related products. Attend the gracious receptions and have your books signed (Friday night's keynote is Mark Obmascik, author of The Big Year)! You’ll be walking with, listening to, and learning from the leading experts in birding: just remember that no matter what your level of expertise, there are field trips, events, and seminars for everyone at RGVBF. That includes beginner to advanced birders, butterfliers, Spanish speakers, artists, and children. The organizers have made sure that the welcome mat is wide and welcoming, and the excitement is palpable from beginning to end.

Come to south Texas! Enjoy the Rio Grande Valley and its hosts, and bring your Life List. You’ll be sure to create memories that will last for years to come. See you there!

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

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