"What trip are you going on today?"
"Kanhaw....Kanawawa...Kan...awww, dammit, the Falls trip."
I was never sure how to pronounce it (I heard someone call it "Kanaw" so I'm sticking with that) but Kanawha Falls is a trip to take if you decide to take the plunge and go to the New River Birding and Nature Festival.
If we rewind to last year's festival: The "Birding by Boat" trip was called off because of some sissy thunderstorm warning, so at the last minute the guides threw together a trip right off the cuff.
To Kanawha Falls. And I hear it was glorious.
I missed this trip last year because Laura kept me up until 1 am, jawing on the front porch, and then I was too wired to sleep until about 4, so when Nina gently said at 5 a.m., "Susan? Are you getting up?" I whispered, "I got an hour's sleep. And I'm hungover. And I can't move. Leave me behind."
And they ended up having a great time and I was jealous.
It went so well last year, the promoters added it as a real trip this time around.
Kanawha Falls is located at the town of Gauley Bridge and is a tributary of the Ohio River. And it really reminded me of the Ohio...wide and flat. Well, until you get to the waterfall.
It's a constant roar in the background that you can't ignore, no matter how hard you strain to hear the birds overhead.
This was my best day of the trip. Very close to being a "verklempt" sort of day.
Long-time readers of this blog might remember how enamored I was of the Dream Team from last year. Well, they are still just great, but Wil and Paul are my new favorites. Sorry, Paco. You've been replaced. My birding heart is a fickle thing.
It was fine that we got to experience the fiery orange of a Hoary Puccoon*:
*That is my new swear word. "Dat beotch ain't nuthin' but a hoary puccoon."
It was nice to finally get a decent, albeit backlit look at a warbling vireo.
Shot with my mad digi-scoping skills. Yeah.
And the hooded warbler was fun to watch, right out in the open.
We've decided that "Hooded" isn't a good enough name for this warbler. We are going to petition to change the name to "Balaclava Warbler". And of course they will listen to us.
The immature bald eagle was cool, even if it was a mile up.
The tiny town surrounding the falls was quiet except for a barooing hound dog.
The post office doesn't look like it gets much mail anymore.
There was a bus. On a rock. In the river.
I laughed out loud as Larry (more about him in another post) helped the bus driver fix the bus.
My breath was swept away by Cathedral Falls.
I hear we are lucky that it had rained the day before, because the water isn't usually a big deal.
So all these things were nice. And I'm laying the credit at the feet of Wil Hershberger and Paul Shaw. (Paul doesn't have a blog, that I know of. I don't think he's even on Facebook. Dude is really UN-connected. And since he doesn't have a blog, that makes him yet another poor dope.)
They worked really well together. Wil always with a smile when one of us (me) asked a stupid question. In fact, I came to Wil whenever I had a question about anything, just to watch him be oh-so-polite and charming.
And Paul worked hard to show us a good time.
Can't see the bird? Well, Paul will get up behind you and make sure to get you on the bird.
And they were such good sports, even with Vickie and me on the trip. I was a bit of a pest, and some of my behavior started to rub off on Vickie. I'm so sorry, Vickie.
The two climaxes of the day:
1. Finally, a GOOD look at a Cerulean Warbler.
The darling little guy bounced right down the tree just as Wil said he would, as if Wil had him on a string. Not a life bird, but definitely a life LOOK.
Climax number 2:
On a hillside lush with rhododendrons, a SWAINSON'S Warbler sat out in the open. For five minutes.
Usually an extremely difficult bird to see, this one was maybe dazed from migration, because it. Just. Sat. There.
Both Wil and Paul got big squeezy hugs for those two birds. Ossum.
And birding aside, I got to enjoy a little silliness with Paul.
The bus was loaded and waiting for us.
We looked at the swing set with longing, then looked at each other.
And so we did.
Thanks, guys. A great day with a couple of great guides.