ABA Autographs

I'm apologizing for typos up front, I'm stealing wireless at a hotel near Mom's house and must be quick. I have the go ahead for the vendormart updates and those will start on Monday. I did find a company that makes these intriguing bird whistles, including a whistle for a great tit. They got nervous when I wanted to take a photo and didn't like the idea of me putting in the blog but I'll work on them some more tomorrow. I think I may have come off a little strong when critiquing the authenticity of some of their North American bird calls. Curse me and my overwhelming need to correct bird inaccuracy. It can prevent me from making friends.

I am having a great time meeting bird owners from around the country. I'm keeping tabs on names and states. There are a few owners that I've talked to that I can see just have the spark and knack for running great stores and want to check them out when my travels bring them my way.

That's our Vortex crew at the ABA Convention. We have from left Bruce Mercer, Don Stokes, Lillian Stokes, me and some excited customers trying out the Stokes line of binoculars.

I am often asked what are the best bird festivals to go to. The answer depends on many factors and I have a top five that I recommend, one being an ABA Convention. I admire the folks that run the ABA. A festival in the same town year after year is tough enough to pull off. But doing a festival in a different city and state every year is a monumental challenge. Do things go wrong on an ABA convention? Yes, sometimes they do, but the staff is very responsive and dedicated to giving participants all the bang for the buck that they can. If you are looking for great birds and top guides this is the place to go. You get some of the best local and international guides on these trips and they work and bend over backwards to get you the birds. It’s also the best place to network and meet well known authors and artists. If anyone is remotely planning on trying to get a job in the birding industry (birding not bird feeding, there is a difference) this is the place to make your presence known.

There were twenty-five bird authors at the ABA all set up at a big table for autographs! That's a lotta writers crammed into one room. Here we have Steve Howell who helped illustrate the Pyle book I was so excited about (and also gave me a shearwater head) and on the right is that big hunk of burnin' author of bird song, Don Kroodsma.

Here was another fun quote overheard at the convention: "Hey Lillian, you get him from the front and I'll get him from the back!" That was me shouting as I was grabbing a photo of the two of them. I have to say, I had a fun dinner with the Stokes during the convention. Of course, it's not hard to have a good time when lobster and a few beers are involved, but I discovered that we have something in common--we all like scotch--particularly 18 year old Glenfiddich! They already had cool points in my book, but that certainly advanced them several notches.

Here's Jan Pierson on the left laughing it up with Doug "he's really not a" Pratt. Jan went out with the karaoke posse, he didn't sing but lended lots of moral support. Poor Jan! The first time I met him, I think I came off a little crazed. It was during the part of the convention when I didn't have my chord for my Powerbook. That night he was supposed to give a Powerpoint presentation and I saw he had a Powerbook. I made a beeline for his dinner table and completely interrupted his conversation to beg to use his chord. He of course needed it for his presentation and I tried in vain to negotiate using it just during mealtime. I'm sure I came off as deranged as Elaine from Seinfeld when she was asking a lady in a fellow bathroom stahl if she could "spare a square".

Now, here's something interesting. All the authors were at one giant U shaped table setup, except for Pete Dunne (above). He had his own table. Does this mean Pete can't play nice? Or does it mean that he smells bad? No, this prolific guy has two new books out, one is his Essential Field Guide and the other is The Art of Pishing (a note to non birders, that book is not about wee, but about making a pish sound with your mouth to attract birds). Because Pete had two new books his table was extra busy and that was why he was separated, I've met him and I can say with authority he can be quite nice and smells pretty good.