Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Nov. 7-11, 2012

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The famed Rio Grande Valley, at the southernmost tip of Texas, boasts the largest 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 19th 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 second year with Eagle Optics. My coworkers are always buzzing about RGVBF, and after my inaugural trip in 2011, I understand why. Everyone who attends is made to feel like family. So, knowing RGVBF is just over six weeks away, I’m eagerly anticipating some more of that Texas hospitality, meeting more new friends, and seeing more amazing birds. Sound good to you, too?  To see the Master List of birds sighted at previous festivals, and to find out about registration, click here.

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! The myriad of offerings include bird and raptor banding, butterfly viewing, birding by river pontoon and canoe, shorebird ID, a quest for parrots, 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. While some trips have limited seating due to a surge in registrations, there are still lots of good seats left. Time to make your decision, folks. You don't want to miss this opportunity!

You’re probably getting the idea of the depth of activities on the docket. Find yourself engaged in one of the many seminars. Sit in on the Big Sit or ride along in a chase van! Study shorebirds or seedeaters. Shop for optics, books, and related products.  Attend the gracious receptions and have your books signed: (Friday night's keynote is writer and artist Julie Zickefoose, author of The Bluebird Effect). You’ll be walking with, listening to, and learning from the leading experts in birding:  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.  Also, you won't want to miss RGVBF's famous tv-style Quiz Show on Saturday night!  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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