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Thursday, May 17, 2007

People, Magee Marsh/ Ottawa NWR

One of the fun things about birding, in addition to all the beautiful birds you see, is meeting other birders and sharing the birding experiences. We had such a great time at Magee Marsh and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. People there are friendly and accomodating (even when the boardwalk is crowded) and happily point out the birds to one another. The grand spectacle of all the migrating warblers and other birds draws together birders from all over the country. We saw friends and met people from FL, IN, IL, MI, OH, CA, VT and many other states.

Birders put out oranges on bare branches and migrating Baltimore Orioles come to feast

Don birding with our good friend Bill, from FL. I both birded, and did photography, quite a balancing act.

I ran into Jennifer Brumfield and her father and mentor, Dave Brumfield. I first became aware of this talented young birder and illustrator when Don and I were judges for the American Birding Association's Young Birder of the Year contest, which Jennifer won in 1998. Jen was much encouraged in her birding and art by her father and other mentors and it paid off. She now teaches kids and others about birds and her beautiful illustrations have been published in a number of books. We talked about how important it is for all of us to encourage and mentor the next generation of birders.

Magnolia Warbler

I chatted with top birding expert Jon Dunn (left), who had his eyes glued to every bird, noting age, sex and subspecies. He was leading a tour for Wings Birding Tours and thinks Magee is one of the top warbler hotspots. Jon is the author and chief consultant of the National Geographic Field Guide To Birds and co-author of the Petersen series Warbler Guide.

I hung out with Don in a sunny spot. "What'cha looking at Don"? "An Orange-crowned Warbler"! He was a happy camper. Of course, I only got the above underside shot, it never did give me a long enough view, unobstructed by leaves, to get a photo showing its head. Photography here is challenging and often the birds are obstructed by leaves and branches, so you need a camera that focuses fast, and you need to find the seconds the bird gives you a good, unobstructed view.

We went to the awesome, new Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge headquarters building, which was having its grand opening. This is a spectacular new facility with state of the art educational displays and spaces and even a high balcony off the back where you can get a tree-top view of a Bald Eagle's nest. Stop by the next time you're near there.

Ottawa NWR sells our books and Stokes Birding Series Binoculars, so we helped them sell our books and binoculars. These happy birders bought our Stokes Sandpiper angled spotting scope,

and asked us to sign it! It's rewarding to see people get good optics because we know it will so enhance their enjoyment of birding, that's why we have an optic line.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

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