Monday, March 14, 2016

Warbler Heaven: West Virginia, May 2-7, 2016

West Virginia's legendary beauty (Almost Heaven, as the John Denver song goes) attracts people AND birds--especially warblers, come springtime.  If you're inclined to indulge in said beauty and birds, you can treat yourself to West Virginia's best during the New River Birding & Nature Festival, May 2-7, 2016.

Now in its 14th year, this festival boasts trips, leaders, and speakers that will help you make the most of the wonderfully varied habitat in and around the New River Gorge National River. Did I mention warblers are this festival's calling card? Each year so far, at least 30 warbler species have been logged in during the week-long event. According to the festival website:

"This area is the heart of the upland hardwood forests that Cornell Lab of Ornithology has identified as a crucial stopover habitat for the continued survival of species such as Golden-winged, Blue-winged, and Swainson's Warbler, as well as the Scarlet Tanager."

Scarlet Tanager photo by Mike McDowell
So the birds will be fabulous--of that we can be sure. But there's also a decidedly friendly, back-porch feel about this festival that makes it refreshingly unique. Good people, tasty food, stunning places to explore. And, shhh--gather closer now--New River Birding & Nature Festival boasts the best guide-to-guest ratio on the festival circuit. That means the many trips offered WILL begin to fill up. Soon. A couple trips have already filled.

Eagle Optics is honored to be attending again in 2016. Look for Ben in the charming and scenic Optics Gazebo, situated on the festival grounds: the perfect place to stop and try the latest in binocularsspotting scopes, and tripods. As always, we are happy to bring along specific products at your request. Please contact us here at Eagle Optics at least two weeks before this or any festival where we have a vendor presence.


The time is now, friend, to get registered! Picture yourself there for a day, or two or three, or for the entire week! There are packages available which include lodging at some of the finer lodges, inns, cabins, and motels near the festival site. I'm telling you, these West Virginia folks know about hospitality.  There are just a few spots left. You can register online now, study up on warblers for a few weeks, and then be New River-bound first thing in May. How's that for a plan?

Leading participants in a wide range of habitats will be some of the industry's very best birding guides. See a complete list of local and national trip leaders here. If you have a free afternoon, catch one of their informative Popcorn Presentations around 3:00. 

At each day's end, gather for a delightful evening meal and entertaining keynote presentation with your newfound friends. As is tradition, Friday night will feature a presentation by beloved naturalist, illustrator, and author Julie Zickefoose (photo below). This one is extra special--as Julie will be officially launching her new book, Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest. Besides having the chance to snag one of the first autographed copies, Julie's talk, weaved with stories and imagery in her signature style, will leave you wide-eyed, smiling, and totally absorbed.

Photo by McKenzie Fleeman
So, come to West Virginia. Bird the Appalachian mountains and valleys of Fayette County. Be one of the lucky ones to experience the New River Birding & Nature Festival where each day, you'll be surrounded by the magic of migration. Gather at day's end to compare notes and life lists and learn from some of the best. Then go off under an endlessly starry sky to get rested and ready for another day of  discovery in--yes, heavenly--West Virginia.

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

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