The really nice thing about American Birding Association Conventions is that you have field trips one day and workshops the next. It's nice, you don't have to worry if you're field trip bus is coming back late and you might miss a workshop. You can also run yourself totally ragged watching birds on the field trip day and then be laid back on the non field trip days. On workshop days I stay in the booth to help customers and today WildBird on the Fly at the Vortex booth joined me.
We got to meet the ABA Youth Birder of the Year, and for the life of me I can't remember his name, but he's a great young enthusiastic guy. That's Scott Cronenweth a Maine birding guide with him on the right.
I've been keeping tabs on interesting quotes we've have heard from people walking by the booth today. Here are the top five:
1. "I literally stepped into the shower with all the binoculars around my neck and then stood under the water. They were fine."
2. "Ugh. It's all coming back...this is why I said never again to a pelagic trip...(barf)"
3. "I was peeing when they found the boreal chickadee."
4. "Oh yeah, that's my future wife walkin' around over there."
5. "This is a birder's chance to mate. This convention is basically one big lek, now dance, prairie chicken, dance."
I have spent way too much money this week. I scored some great books, one being a field guide to birds of China that I have found in used bookstores. I've seen this book going for as much as $80 and I got this one for only $35. Score! The other book I was excited about was the Peter Pyle book, Identification Book of North American Birds. It's all about how to identify birds in the hand when you band them. It even teaches you how to age and sex chickadees, something you can only do in the hand. Here' s a quote from the book about eastern phoebes:
Skull--Pneumaticization completes in HY/SY from 15 Sept. Some SYs (and ASYs?) can retain windows at the rear of the skull through spring or summer.
Oh yeah, that's my kind of book! Seriously, that sentence is describing the development of air cells in bones at certain ages of the eastern phoebe. It mostly happens in the first and second year of the bird, usually by September 15.
Our booth is very popular, we have lens pens that we are selling through the ABA gift shop which can be a life saver when you are on the beach or pelagic trip and keep your glass nice and clear.
Round about three o'clock, I was needing a second wind. I was lamenting to WildBird on the Fly how much I could really use a cup of coffee. Then before I knew it, Rusty Harold (pictured above on the right) one of the convention participants walked by with a box of Dunkin' Donuts Coffee--it's really good coffee. He was kind enough to share it with me. Not only is this guy a software genius, but he's helpful to those in need of a caffeine fix. I was so grateful to him; it helped me get through the rest of the day. That coffee at 3pm is the second most important cup of the day!
At the end of the day, Amy and I went out with the Leica folks for some local lobsters. We had a great time sharing stories and spraying each other with hot lobster juice. I don't care how much finishing school you go through, there just isn't a graceful way to eat a lobster.
I got to spend some time with Bill Schmoker (pictured above). I was so glad to meet him, since I periodically link to some of his awesome photos in this blog. He looks much younger than I imagined him and I was surprised to learn that he is a middle school science teacher. I was so shocked, when I was in middle school the science teachers weren't cool at all, so Bill is a surprise.
While eating our lobster, Jeff Gordon (pictured above)--ever the naturalist and gourmand gave us a natural history lesson on how to sex our lobsters. I was pleased to discover with Jeff's coaching that I was eating both a male and a female lobster. Bill Schmoker was REALLY lucky, his female lobster was full of roe.
Tonight a group of us decided to catch up on some work at the lounge in our hotel. There were quite a few locals hangin' out. When we arrived the bartender excitedly asked us to show them the video clip of Richard Attenborough's Lyrebird from the Life of Birds series (if Birding is Not a Crime has already shown this, I apologize). Amy got this photo of me showing them the clip. The whole bar was silenced and entranced as they watched this incredible bird mimic not only other birds, but camera shutters, car alarms and chainsaws. If you have never seen the clip, watch the whole thing. It will blow your socks off. The bartender had seen all fo us birders watching it the night before and thought it was totally cool. She also looked at some digiscoped photos and was impressed by those. It wouldn't surprise me if we covert her to birding by the end of the week.
At the moment we are all awaiting the arrival of Bill of the Birds. He was supposed to be in around 9:30pm, but we've been tracking his flight delays. The last we checked, he was on a flight that was to leave at 9:44pm but according to the airline's website was still waiting on the tarmac. Poor guy. We're rooting for you Bill, hang in there.
Now, it's off to bed, tomorrow brings another field trip. It is a fun part of the job but its still work. I'm not just there to have a good time, I bring along some of our optics for people to use and test out. Even if you are not an official field trip leader you do end up helping id birds on these trips. I wasn't much help with the pelagic trip since I'm such a Midwesterner but tomorrow, the birds are more my speed.