Ivory-bill Fest Report

When I pulled into the parking lot this morning, that good bird smell was heavy in the air. You could totally smell the blackbirds that had roosted around there the night before, it reminded me of the bird housing at the Raptor Center. I got the booth put together without too much trauma and sold a pair of Rangers right away, thanks to the help of Ron Austing who brought a friend over to look at our products. I was very excited to meet Ron, he is another guy who has photos just about everywhere. When I was going through his prints available for sale, I recognized so many from various bird books. Then, I found one of my all time favorite photos of a red-tailed hawk. Isn't it sweet? I didn't realize that he was the guy who took the photo. But geeked out when I realized how talented he was.

In the booth next to me was a lovely couple who carve birds. Their carved birds worked as great targets for people to test out the close focus on the various binoculars. They told me that they just sold a life sized ivory-bill carving for $12,000. They do tremendous work, that is one their ivory-bill heads pictured at right--even Tim Gallagher was impressed.

This evening we heard a wonderful band playing at the celebration called the Greasy Greens. Their big claim to fame was playing at President Clinton's inaugural ball. They rocked the crowd here...well, as much as you can rock a crowd of birders. They debuted a new song about the ivory-billed woodpecker that combined the Woody Woodpecker Theme and Rockin' Robin. Amy and I invented a couple of a new dances to it: the bino and the scope. I wonder how soon that will be all the rage at birding festivals?

Boy, I tell ya' I am racking up the author lifers here, I'll have to update the list as soon as I get home. I met June Osborne who is as sweet as she can be. She was sitting behind us at Gene's Barbecue and we ran into her around the festival. I also met Pete Dunne again, and he bought lunch for all of us hard working optic reps at the festival--what a guy! He even stopped by the booth to talk to customers about binoculars and offered some great pointers. He's currently packing seven power binoculars--I like a guy who is comfortable with his magnification. I'm going to use this photo for the author page, but can't wait to post it. Here is Pete stealing a fry as I steal a photo of him.

The blackbirds poured into the trees again tonight, just as hypnotic as last night. This time there wasn't anyone around to try and scare them with fireworks, which was a relief. I overheard someone say with a tone of disdain, while watching the millions come in, "You know, this is what people think birders do. Like birders want to sit around and be entertained by this?" I couldn't help it, I piped up, "I'm a birder and I love this, I could watch it for hours. It's hypnotic." I don't know what it is, but giant flocks of birds just fascinate me.

In the next entry: What does and ivory-bill haircut look like anyway?