New River Gorge Birding and Nature Festival

Birding enthusiasts came from all over the country, and a few from abroad. It was the same with the guides, who were experts from all corners. It’s an annual birding event of the first order. It meets at the New River Gorge because of its unique geography on the Appalachian Plateau. The New River Gorge National River offers a wide variety of habitats in its 53 miles of river and steep V-shaped gorge. Riparian areas between forest and stream, mixed hardwood forests, old fields, and high cliffs provide for an array of birds nesting or living year-round within the borders of the National River. This area in southern West Virginia is at the heart of the upland, hardwood forests that are a crucial stopover habitat for the continued survival of several neo-tropical migratory species, including several Warbler species, and the Scarlet Tanager.

I was limited to two cold, overcast days because of my work schedule. Bummer. Gail had the chance to spend an extra, even colder day, 29 degrees at the crack of dawn, which is the typical starting time for these events. But even so, our group spotted 40 different species on each of the two days I was there. This is less than half of the usual. Photography was also less than ideal, though I will share at least a few of my pictures of the Yellow Throated Warbler that was my favorite bird of this trip.

Here is part of our birding group at the New River Gorge, with the famous New River Gorge Bridge in the background:

The New River:

Railroads parallel the edge of the river, dating back to the time of active coal mining that started over 100 years ago. Coal mining has long since been “tapped out” in this area, which is now a protected National River.

The Yellow Throated Warbler: