First Annual ABA Midatlantic Youth Birding Conference

Today, was the First Annual ABA Midatlantic Youth Birding Conference at the Ashland Nature Center in Delaware. First off, I would like to say thank you to everyone who was involved in making this conference happen. It was amazing. Besides at Magee Marsh (www.biggestweekinamericanbirding.com) I have never been in the presence of so many youth birders at one time. And even at the Biggest Week there weren’t that many.
Anyway, last night my dad and I arrived at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm only 19 miles from the Ashland Nature Center. There we promptly went to sleep for we knew that the next morning we would have to wake up early as is usual in birding.
This morning, we woke up at 7:00 sharp and got in the car to go to the Nature Center. We got there just in time for the serving of breakfast. They had some pretty good Danishes for breakfast I must say (apparently they were baked that morning at a local bakery). I then wandered into the room where most of the conference lectures would be held. They had some bird feeders there which I settled down to watch.

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Feeders at the nature center
While I watched, a tufted titmouse and my FOY carolina chickadee came in.

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Tufted titmouse near feeders
Then the morning bird walk began. I didn’t take any photos on it but we saw Philadelphia vireo, red-eyed vireo, both nuthatches, and had very good looks at a black-throated green warbler.
Then the lectures began. First there were some opening remarks by ABA President Jeff Gordon. Then I went to a lecture by Bill Thompson III on getting a job related to birding. It was very interesting and it was cool to hear a lecture by Mr. Thompson for I have been wanting to for some time. After that, I went to a few more lectures before it was time for the hawk watch.
The Ashland Nature Center, is on a hill. At the top of that hill, you can see other ridges. At those other ridges, there are migrating raptors. So, all 140 of us hiked up the hill to go try to see some hawks.

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Young birders going to the hawk watch
We saw many hawks during that 45 minutes. We saw numerous sharp-shinned hawks, a couple of broad-wings, and a handful of red-shoulders. Also, we saw an osprey and a bald eagle. However, the most prevalent birds were the vultures. We saw both turkey and black vultures (always a treat to see since they are rare in PA) soaring in kettles over the ridge.

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Black vulture soaring over hawk watch
It was my first time at a hawk watch and while it was very fun, my eyes were tired afterword from constant scanning.
Then, it was back to lectures. One of those was one of the keynotes, a lecture from the ABA 2011 Young Birder of the Year Marie Magee. It was a very interesting lecture and the first time I have heard a lecture by someone my age which was interesting. Also I was pleased to see that I only have about 7 less birds on my life list. Later in the day, we went back to the hawk watch where we got to see a kestrel and sharp-shinned fighting. That was very cool to see.
Lastly, as the day was drawing to an end, we all went to the second keynote, a lecture by Bill Thompson III. It was on his strange experiences as a birder and was very interesting.
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Bill Thompson III at lecture
Before his lecture, I was able to spend some time photographing the Carolina chickadees at the feeders.

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Carolina chickadee near feeder

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Another Carolina chickadee near feeder
Also, while the lecture was going on I couldn’t help but snap these two photos out the window of a mystery warbler and a downy woodpecker.

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Mystery fall warbler. Black-throated green?

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Downy woodpecker
After that lecture Jeff Gordon officially ending the conference with his closing remarks and the I returned with my dad to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. All in all, it was a very amazing day, getting to hear the lectures, meet the young birders, and most importantly, see the birds.
Tomorrow, I am going to Bombay Hook NWR so I will send you a full report about that.

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