Allegany Nature Pilgrimage
This weekend was the 49th annual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage held here in Allegany State Park. This is my 12th year attending the pilgrimage and my 9th year as a trip leader. This year I was asked to lead two “Old Growth Forest Hikes” into the Big Basin area. I tried to show everyone a few different forest types so that everyone could have a better understanding of how an older growth forest operates. The two groups I took on the walk were wonderful and I had an opportunity to show the old growth forest to 67 different individuals.
Friday evening we went on the “Evening Hike” by our favorite group leader Lon. Some of the critters we found on this hike included an American Toad, Spring Peeper, Bull Frog, Eastern Screech Owl, and a Barred Owl. We always have a blast on his night hike without using any flights (see video below).
My Saturday morning started at 7:00am with another fellow bander, Bob McKinney. Bob has been banding birds at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage for most every pilgrimage that Audubon has ever had. Bob caught so many wonderful birds, like a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Rose Breasted Grosbeak, etc.. and even a Waterthrush. While talking to some old friends, guess who I ran into??
Ya, had an opportunity to talk to Bill Thompson 3 Saturday morning and captured this photo of him watching Bob banding an American Goldfinch. Saturday evening Bill Thompson did a wonderful program on the “Perils and Pitfalls of Birding”. I only wish Zick and the whole family could have been able to make the event.
I am very proud of 5 young naturalist who put their minds together as a team and did a nature hike called “Nature for Kids by Kids”. Their first walk had ~11 people and their second walk had ~14 people who attended. We were sitting in the distance watching them working together and teaching many 6-7 year old kids about nature. I can’t even express how proud I am of them!! The kids even had one person come up to their parents in the dinner line to tell them what a wonderful job all of the kids did (Young Naturalists J and MW’s mother came very close to crying when she said that). While banding at the CLDC site this morning, I had to remind Young Naturalist J that he was only 7 when he started banding birds with me and now he is now leading walks at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage for kids that are the same age as him when he started banding.
ANP RANT :
I just love the Audubon weekend but there is one thing that gets me very upset every year. This is very hard for me to do, mainly because I try not to rant about things on my blog! I know this has been happening for almost 50 years but why must Audubon continue to encourage people to dig up rare and unique flowers to be used for display??? Ok, yes they do also dig up things like birds-eye speedwells, ect.. but does this still need to be continued after the numerous wildflower walks that are provided? For many years I have seeing flowers like Pink-lady Slippers, White Clintonia and many other very unique flowers/ferns that should not be dug up to be put on display! Yes, the 4 Audubon Societies (who sponsor the ANP) encourage people to do this instead of encouraging those people to be good conservations and protect these plants in their yards (Note, the leaders doing the walks promote this, I am talking about the ANP committee that organize the event)! Technology today has the opportunity to show these flowers through photographs and still allow those to learn what these flowers look like! I saw so many individuals who spent more time watching the wildflower slideshow on the laptop than looking at half dead dug up flowers!! If you are going to dig up flowers, why not do invasive flowers so that everyone knows what flowers they really should be killing?? Ok, done with the ranting but it is still intolerable for an Audubon Society to encourage.
This White Clintonia is one of many unusual flowers dug up!
This is such a fun weekend seeing so many knowledgeable people sharing our similar interest “nature”. I didn’t list all the walks that I attended but every leader always does such an amazing job with their walks. Many other great blogging friends that I saw included Jen (A Passion for Nature) Jeremy (Dragonfly Eye) and another friend who hasn’t gone public with his blog. Can’t wait to see you all again next year at the 50th anniversary!!