In spite of the high winds and looming storm, the Spring Birding Weekend this year was a great event! We had 48 attendees ranging in ages from 7 to 73 years old. Guests reported seeing or hearing 69 bird species including black-bellied whistling ducks, bobolinks, prothonotary warblers, orchard orioles, Baltimore orioles, indigo buntings, common gallinules, soras, anhingas, and many other species. You can view the full list of bird species on our bird checklist which shows the birds seen at Tara in 2013 to 2017.
A First Timer’s Account
By Kathy Jacobs
This was my first year at the Spring Birding Weekend. I’m far from an avid birder – consider me more of a casual bird watcher who really likes seeing the colorful songbirds. I have multiple bird feeders in my yard and enjoy seeing the arrival of the indigo buntings, goldfinches, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and blue grosbeaks each year.
Spending the time touring Tara and seeing the beautiful landscapes while being outdoors with other nature lovers was so much fun. We all delighted in seeing a herd of deer cross the road or spotting a baby alligator poking his head out of the water. It was a wonderful break from being in the office all week.
While I know a handful of migrating birds and local residents, I need help with identifying many of the wading birds and anything that is colored brown. Bruce Reid, long time birder and conservationist, who led the tours is really an expert at identifying birds and their calls. If we pointed it out, he could tell us what it was. Often times, he was the first to point it out. He really has a keen eye for finding birds in the trees and shrubs.
For those who are experienced birdwatchers and need a little more quiet (and less people) when searching for birds, there are several nature trails that encompass several miles of Tara’s property that can be walked.
The best part of the weekend for me was getting to meet all of the wonderful people who came to the event. Everyone was so friendly and excited to be there. I would sit at a different table for every meal to strike up a conversation with a new person. I met people from all walks of life this weekend – artists, avid bird watchers, scientists, educators, musicians, retirees, craftspeople, and others.
There was a retired couple from as far away as California who are making their way across the United States in a compact RV. They were heading up to Tennessee after this event and will eventually end up in Pennsylvania. Hearing their travel stories was a highlight of the weekend.
There were two families with young children who have attended the event for the past several years. The parents pointed out the amazing vistas and critters so that the kids could see them and the kids spent the weekend running wild in nature. They were on the boardwalk catching bream, swinging in hammocks, throwing rocks in the pond, chasing each other through the grass, and generally enjoying the outdoors.
Saturday was quite busy with three open-air bus tours led by Bruce Reid, a presentation by Dr. Cathy Shropshire on Fannye Cook (a scientist and conservationist from Crystal Springs, MS, who founded the agency that became MDWFP and created the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science), and a social event in the evening with live music from the Lowland Wastrels.
The weather in spring is just about perfect. If you’re looking for an event that suits both the casual or beginning birder and experienced birdwatchers, this is the perfect event for you.
NOTE: I am a paid contractor for Tara Wildlife. While I was at the Spring Birding Weekend to take photos and video we can use for marketing, this written account is my personal experience and was not influenced by my work for Tara. I really did have fun and at the same time, was able to get some great photos!