Me with Mike Dunn of Duncraft Feeders. Part of me was geeking here because Greg Butcher a former editor of Birder's World was taking the picture.
Well I geeked out on a whole new level this weekend. As stated earlier I attended the birding trade show this weekend called Birdwatch America and met all kinds of fun new people. It was fun networking and meeting face to face the people who make various feeders and bird houses. On top of that attendees included field guide authors, bird writers, bird magazine editors and a few ornithologists.
I always find during trade shows and bird festivals that it's always best to hook up with binocular reps. If there's a banquest or luncheon, find out where they are and sit at their table. They usually are chatty easy going guys with fun stories. One year Amber and I were lucky enough to hook up with a Swarovski guy and a Brunton guy and went birding with them at a Conservation Through Birding Summit. They were so kind and let us try out some of their optics. However, apart from using them for cheap thrills with high end optics they really tend to be great conversationalists and have a sense of humor (let's face it, if you're going to use a birder/ornithologist to sell optics you have to hire they one who is engaging not shy and reserved). At the banquet this year we had a Leica rep at our table and his sense of humor was almost as naughty as mine. Through the conversation I learned that he was a hawk watching/banding freak like myself. Then I learned that this was Jeff Bouton from the book Season at the Point. I think I did a pretty good job of not freaking out and keeping my cool, but we had a great time and discussed the merits of a goshawk vs a peregrine falcon--he tried to convince me that a peregrine is cooler than a goshawk. These men who love these flashy falcons, what's to be done with them?? Anyway, after the banquet a small group of us went to a sports bar to watch his laptop full of an indepth raptors of Florida id class. I have to say that I sadly zonked out at around midnight and returned to my hotel room and the grand prize for raptor geekery goes to Amy at Wild Bird Magazine who stayed with him until 1am. Bottom line, it was great to meet someone I has read out in Jack Connor's book and to learn that he has a sense of humor and is fun to hang out with.
On another note the "are we watch the great gray owls too much in Minnesota" debate continues. Opinions are all over the place. By far my favorite opinion has been from our resident norther owl expert Bill Lane. While everyone else is focusing on the ethics of how close is too close, to feed them or not feed them, hug an owl, love your fellow man, are your tour groups too close, blah blah blah, Bill's main concern has been proper terminology and information. He nailed me for calling it a migration as opposed to an irruption--that's my kind of guy. I truly love researchers for always keeping us accurate. Go Bill, I'm cheering for you. Incidentally if you are looking for a hard core owl trip, you should hook up with Bill Lane sometime. His trips tend to fill up months in advance but are well worth it.