Friday, May 23, 2014

Reader Rendezvous, Part 2: Canoeing with Julie Zickefoose, Aug. 22-24, 2014

readerrendezvous-226x300Earlier this year I told you about the Reader Rendezvous series, put on by our friends at Bird Watcher's Digest. It’s three weekends, three seasons, and three uniquely different locations in the U.S.-–each a distinctly wonderful opportunity in 2014 to discover, learn, and walk (or in this case, paddle) alongside one of the birding industry’s most notable celebrities: Al Batt, Julie Zickefoose, or Alvaro Jaramillo. In late February, Al Batt started things off in the frozen hinterlands of Minnesota, leading participants on a winter owl quest called Owls With Al (see a scrapbook of pics here). Now it's Julie's turn to show you what she loves most, so gather 'round and I'll give you the scoop!

This, the 2nd Reader Rendezvous, is entitled Birding Valhalla with Julie Zickefoose. In one of her favorite birding spots, North Bend State Park in West Virginia, share Julie's idea of heaven: paddling a "flooded forest," a serene lake created when the north fork of the Hughes River was dammed in 2003. According to Julie's blog, "North Bend is a regular red-headed woodpecker factory...flooding killed the trees along the river, and this made a massive nursery for cavity-nesting birds, including great crested flycatcher, tree swallows, yellow-shafted flickers and the aforementioned red-headed woodpeckers. Eastern kingbirds also nest on and in the snags. The birds have high nesting success, because water keeps land-based predators like raccoons and snakes from accessing the cavities. Perfection!" zickcanoelookup

Besides birding by boat, other planned activities include biking, hiking, (more birding), and relaxing around a campfire with newfound friends. You'll be drinking in Julie's seemingly endless knowledge of the natural world, compiled over her years as a birder,10269561_10203618713087343_6135301275957511935_n1 artist, illustrator, author (The Bluebird Effect is her latest publication), and keynote speaker. In fact, a delicious summer picnic dinner followed by her keynote will kick everything off on Friday night.  Lodging can be booked right there at the charming North Bend Lodge, and boats and bikes are included in your registration fee--or you can bring your own.  A meal plan at the lodge is an available add-on, so you never even have to leave the park!

August isn't that far off, folks. You'll want to clear your calendar and register soon. If you're already a follower of Julie's blog, you'll be happy to know that wonder dog, Chet Baker is slated to come along--talk about star power! Accompanying birding walks will be Julie's husband, Bill Thompson III, editor of Bird Watcher's Digest, who is ever-handy at wrangling kayaks, and who will lend some guitar pickin' and harmonizing as the sun goes down. You'll feel like family!  But don't take my word for it: check out this video of Julie (or Zick, as she is fondly known), on site, tempting you to join her for this unique weekend in beautiful West Virginia, which will live in your memory for years to come:

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


  1. Whoa Nina, I am humbled. Thank you so very much. This is a tough time of year to get anyone to think about August...May reigns, with graduations and weddings and summer vacations looming. But we have a good healthy start to signups and I hope this post brings us some more. You are awesome. :)

  2. You're welcome, Julie! I'd be there myself, if I could. Have a wonderful Rendezvous this August! ~Nina


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