Monday, October 3, 2011

IAS Fall Festival and the Amazing Kaufmans!

This past weekend was the Indiana Audubon Society Fall Festival at Pokagon State Park in northeast Indiana. The festival was kicked off by an fun and entertaining program by Foster Brown and Mark Szabo. All of the young birders in the room, and those young at heart were dancing and singing along and having a great time! Afterward a few people hung out in one of the hotel lounges and got to know each other better. At about 10, our keynote speaker and his wife arrived. We were all lucky to get to spend a couple hours  talking with the celebrity couple of birding Kenn and Kim Kaufman!

The alarm went off early the next morning in order for me to make it to meet up with the group that Jim Haw and I would lead on a tour of Pigeon River FWA. It was a very cold start to the day with the thermometer in my car showing 37 degrees! At our first stop, there were a few Sandhill Cranes on the ground and flying around but that was about the only highlight. We barely fit all of the cars into the parking lot at the next stop but the last car squeezed in and we were on our way in the woods. Unfortunately, the birds did not get the message the we were looking for them. Even the few that we heard refused to show themselves!

We decided to abandon this location but on the way back to the cars, some of the group got to see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet moving through some dense shrubs. We were on to our next stop, a small marsh hosts the only known nesting Common Gallinules on the property. We found one gallinule but the highlight of this stop was the flyover Pine Siskin! It was the first siskin reported in the state this fall. The rest of the stops yielded nothing of note.

We had a great slate of afternoon presenters that was capped off by Kim talking about the how to make a successful young birders club! Everyone left that talk feeling very inspired to help make the IYBC succeed!

The culmination of the day was a fantastic buffet dinner and a phenomenal keynote speech by Kenn Kaufman. Kenn's ability to weave the stories of his birding adventures and historical lessons is incredible!

After Kenn's talk, all of the young birders surprised the Kaufmans with some handmade bird shirts! The kids did their research because Kenn got his favorite bird, a Western Kingbird. The kids had another surprise up their sleeves and they presented Kenn with a copy of his field guide that they had all signed!

After field trips the next morning, we came back to Pokagan to hear Don Gorney speak about the Lights Out Indy program and then there was a short book signing with Kenn and Joel Greenberg. We enjoyed hanging out with the Kaufman for a little while longer but then it was time to head home.

Stephanie and I with Kenn and Kim Kaufmann

Everyone has been raving about what an awesome festival it was this year! The Kaufmans made this a very special festival especially for those of us that are involved with the Indiana Young Birders Club! Thank you Kenn and Kim for everything you do to promote birds and conservation!

No comments: