PAUSE AND LOOK UP: A clearing in a copse of trees, or the space between two peaks, can afford us many rich views. We might see a cloud that looks a bit like a flying saucer, or we might enjoy the setting sun in all of its sherbet-like hues. But quite often an empty sky void located between two patches of trees or two mountains is filled with bird beauty, a swirling orb of motion against the blue. The peaks or trees serve as a fabulous frame, and we pull the car over, or pause on the hiking trail, to watch the orb turn over, again and again, as flight becomes dance. Gathering to witness bird conventions is something that involves a bit of luck -- okay, more than "a bit," really -- but even a single sighting of an on-the-wing beastie can make a weekend feel magical. Such a magical opportunity is winging its way to Humboldt County, around Arcata, when ornithologists and those who simply love everything avian make for the Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival.
GREETINGS, MARBLED GODWIT: The elegant Godwit is on the centerstage for the springtime celebration, but all birds will receive their delightful due from those wielding the binoculars. Participants will "(o)bserve many bird species and wildlife" through a series of "field trips, lectures, workshops, and boat excursions" around the redwood-rich, marsh-marvelous, Lost Coast-y region. It's the 21st year for this big bird bash, one that lasts well beyond the confines of a two-day weekend. April 13 through 19 are the 2016 dates, dates that include a Nighttime Owls Field Trip, a visit to Patrick's Point State Park, a Stone Lagoon Kayak Tour, and lots more. (We do mean lots; the list is lengthy, and while some events are sold out, many have spots.) David Sibley, the author behind the Sibley Bird Guides, is the keynote speaker, a fact sure to summon feather fans from afar.
SO... will you finally complete your "birds seen" list, the one that has a few "must-gets" that you've been dreaming about for years? Well, a "birds seen" list is never quite finished, and that's its best attribute: The happy search is always on, with the hope that a few surprises are encountered. Including seeing a bunch of birds, in a cloud-swirly orb, in some wooded or hilly clearing. Will the Arcata area deliver for you this April? Grab your guides, bag, and binocs and find out.