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West Virginia's Peak Moments

Sunday, June 26, 2022

   I put so much stuff up on Instagram. And then that goes to Facebook. I feel like I'm posting something every day, little bits and bites. I will confess that I forget about this blog for weeks at a time, because the square hole in my dwindling brain that says, "Share wonderful things" is constantly being filled. I pound the peg in and go on my way. 

But Lord knows there are people I love who just don't do social media, who are missing out on the daily birdsong Zicktorials and evening primroses popping open that are going on over at instagram.com/juliezickefoose

and when I think about them I get to feeling guilty, like I'm letting them down. Yes. This is a stealthy way of trying to get even my loved ones who don't run around with their nose in their phones to check out that Instagram feed (which you can do on your computer as well as your phone) because it's so rich, so frequently updated, such fun, and I just don't have the hours now to post to the blog like I used to. Still putting out content! Just not here so much, any more.

I wanted to share some images from my big rig that I made at the New River Birding and Nature Festival this May. Just moments that I thought you'd appreciate. West Virginia was not as stingy with her sunshine as she usually is, and we had four days of beautiful weather to chase and enjoy birds. 

The BSA camp called Summit, in Bechtel, WV, which we were lucky to explore, is an astounding place, with big grassy fields that don't get mowed too often. It's in very light to no use most of the year until the yearly Jamboree, when something like 26,000 Boy Scouts flood in to do Jamboree things. Here, horned larks are nesting in peace!! Oh how I love their tinkling songs and heavy black theatrical makeup. 


This male was using a signpost as a song perch. 


Singing along from atop a lightpost was an eastern meadowlark, always a thrilling sound. Any grassland bird in heavily forested WV is kind of a big deal. Summit also hosts grasshopper sparrows and their earthy buzz.


And it was at Summit that I finally saw my first eastern black bears! a mama and three cubbies.
A lousy shot of a cub shinnying up a tree. Oh, was I thrilled to see this!
And glad it wasn't in my backyard. Y'all can keep 'em in WV.


Blue-winged warblers in WV often have a yellow tinge to their white wingbars, which tells of genetic mixing with golden-winged warblers. This figures: there are still golden-winged warblers breeding in WV, which is more than I can say for Ohio. Golden-wings need clearcuts, believe it or not, with young saplings springing up. 


See those yellow-tipped wingbars? Somebody's been doing some interspecies marrying. 


A confiding yellow-throated vireo held us in thrall.



His song: Three-eight...Cheerio! is so distinctive, burry and cheery. 




Summit Camp also yielded a beautiful Virginia rail, who called repeatedly as he slipped between the cattails and sedges.


Oink oink oink oink oink oink oink!!



Again--seeing any rail in foresty WV is kind of a big deal. How lucky and grateful we were to benefit from birding the extensive habitat at BSA's Summit Camp. It made me itch to get out there and canvas those breeding birds!


These gobblers were trying very hard to add their names to the list of successful breeders at Summit. Don't miss the lyre-leaved sage painting the field a misty blue.


Don't let her get into the woods--you'll lose her!





Cranberry Glades way up on the mountaintop produced for us a surprise mourning warbler who seemed to think he'd been hired as a greeter for festival participants, so lustily did he sing and display near the entrance to its fabled boardwalk. Grateful. I have worked this festival for 20 years, and I've never seen a mourning warbler do that anywhere. Having waited for long periods and chased this famously skulky species through thick raspberry tangles, getting only glimpses of leg or tail, this bold little feller was particularly sweet to watch.


I'd have loved to see him down futzing about amidst the Viola cucullata (Swamp blue violet or Cuckoopint).

Northern waterthrushes sang everywhere! They like fens and bogs, as opposed to fast running streams preferred by their Louisiana cousins. 


We were way out the end of the boardwalk when a little squall blew in. Nothing else to do but bundle the camera under the coat. But then the sun came out again over the bog.


The visitor's center had rose-breasted grosbeaks at the feeders. 


Inside, a quilt map that charmed me almost to death.



If there's anything more quintessentially American and particularly West Virginian than a quilt map, I haven't seen it. 


Just a note: I'm writing a LOT for BWD Magazine, and eagerly anticipating the first issue (July/August 2022) that will be mailed (squeeeee) July 1! And magazines being magazines, we are closing up content on the September/October issue now. Gonna be frank: the need to be putting together the next issue before the current one even mails is a bit frightening, and I'm going to be adjusting to the increased pressure for some time. If you'd like to see what we're up to and subscribe, please go to bwdmagazine.com 





3 comments:

You wrote out the reasons for neglecting one's blog so perfectly that I'm going to have to link to this post in my defense! You shared so many beautiful species I've never seen before; thank you!

I love blogs and definitely miss them. IG has great qualities in terms of sharing but it just isn't the same and there are some heavy downsides (data privacy etc etc). I did finally cave and get one too ... still miss the blogs tho', and try to keep up with mine. All of which to say, thank you for still writing here as you can!

Great sightings! What a treat. And I'd never heard of a quilt map before.

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