Through Eric Harrold's tireless outreach, BRDC is now engaged with the Methodist Camp Dickenson here in Grayson County with a series of summer programs focused on birds and ecology. Avian Adventures made its first foray last Thursday, June 13th, and along with guide Scott Jackson-Ricketts, Eric led a group of 13 kids for a walk around the riverside property.
We began by meeting in 'the old farm house' where we shared a few tips on bird identification techniques, and instructed the kids to take detailed field notes on what we might find to apply to the field guides upon our return. We began by climbing a small hill above the camp grounds, wandering through a fairly recent timber cut, along a wide trail. Stopping along the way, we found several early-succession adapted bird species, including indigo bunting, Eastern towhee, prairie warbler, and Carolina wren, while tree swallows, barn swallows, chimney swifts, crows, turkey vultures, blue jays and one pileated woodpecker offered fly-by observations.
It was Eric's intention to not name the birds while we hiked along. At each observation opportunity, we helped the kids home in on the strongest and most unique features of each species, so that they brought back with them enough information to make a stab at identification. As it turned out, this approach worked really well for our teenage group. After the hike, we regrouped in the farm house and followed through with Sibley's book, and engaged in a lively constructive conversation with lots of smart questions.
With a little time still left over before lunch, we took a short walk down to the New River, and had luck with one orchard oriole, Eastern king bird, nesting red-winged blackbirds, and a raft of Canada geese. Next Thursday, we will start at 7am, two hours earlier, in hopes of catching some of the dawn chorus and more activity.
Again, we wish to thank the Matthews Foundation for supporting this educational opportunity, and a special thanks to Michael Snow, director of Camp Dickenson.