|My new birding buddy Greg Miller and me - I had just seen my first ever Bay-breasted Warbler at Meadowbrook Marsh during the Midwest Birding Symposium. If you don't know already Greg Miller was featured in the book, "The Big Year", the movie version which comes out in mid-October has Jack Black portraying the character inspired by Greg. (Photo by Cheryl Harner)|
Julie Zickefoose and Al Batt were the Saturday evening speakers. They were both just absolutely fantastic. Bill Thompson III was the master of ceremonies and gave a heart-felt tribute to his mom and in a way, his late father. Julie Zickefoose is one talented lady...wife, mom, writer, artist, speaker, bird rehabber, and much more. Her presentation showed her love for the little birds and other wildlife she takes into her care. She inspired us to love nature more deeply. Al Batt was belly-laughin' funny. Oh my, it felt good to laugh that hard. I hope a video of his talk/routine will be posted online in the near future.
After the talks and many farewells to new birding friends, Donald the Birder took me back out to Meadowbrook Marsh, where he did his awesome Eastern Screech-owl calls and almost instantly we had three calling back to us. We even had one swoop right over our heads. Life bird #401. Awesome!
Then I slipped off to the airport, returned my rental car, and crashed on the airport floor until my flight home.
Now just over 24 hours of being home, I have come to realize that this experience of attending the Midwest Birding Symposium may have just have ruined me. I had never experienced that wave of warbler phenomenon before and none of my daily birding experiences can even compare to that level of excitement and birdy-ness. It leaves me craving more...but more will just have to wait. So, today I went back to my lunch hour birding patch and relaxed back into the slower paced birding...for now.
I want to express my profound gratitude to the BirdWatcher's Digest family, the Ohio Ornithological Society, the community of Lakeside and all the volunteers, the speakers, the guides, all the people I got to go birding with, and anybody and everybody else that had anything to do with the Midwest Birding Symposium. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I came away a better birder, with a deeper love for birds, and for other birders.