VSO Annual Meeting Success

VSOmeeting.700Jointly hosted are the Augusta Bird Club and Monticello Bird Club, the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO) held their Annual Meeting on May 8-10, 2015, at Wintergreen Resort. Past VSO president John Spahr served as general chair and brings us this report on the successful event.

The Blue Ridge Mountains, the weather, the venue, the participants, the guest speakers and, of course, the birds all conspired to produce a fabulous and memorable annual spring meeting at Wintergreen Mountain Resort in Nelson County, May 8-10.  Over 150 VSO members participated in the activities on this lovely weekend.  The resort staff flawlessly facilitated the arrangements from lodging, to social gatherings, to the banquet.

A Cerulean warbler became a star of the VSO meeting.

A Cerulean Warbler became a star of the VSO meeting. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

All the field trips were enthusiastically attended.  Groups visited lower elevation sites on either slope of the Blue Ridge as well as multiple locations on the famed ridge itself.  A total of 110 species of birds were recorded.  This included 5 species of vireos and 25 species of warblers.  American Redstart proved to be the most common warbler on the Blue Ridge, followed closely by Ovenbird.  Then it was Chestnut-sided, Hooded, Black and White and Cerulean.  Yes, Cerulean Warblers are still in reasonable numbers in the vine-entangled canopy that typifies portions of the forest on the ridge.  Two of the field trip teams independently found the same Cerulean Warbler nest being built by the unique aquamarine-colored female.  This was above the grassy edge of the parkway near Afton, across the road from a very vocal Kentucky Warbler.  Word of this nesting spectacle was quickly disseminated and many who were not part of the original field trip to this location then flocked to the site Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.  Of the non-resident migrant warblers, Wilson’s and Nashville Warblers as well as Blackpoll and Northern Waterthrush were encountered.  All enjoyed the sights and songs of the fields and forests visited.  Someone even reported a Bobolink on one of the ski slopes.

The social gatherings were equally enjoyable.  There was a nice array of vendors and exhibitors.  The evening programs were exceptional.  On Friday night Marshall Faintich dazzled all with photographic examples of some of the special birds of the region.  Then on Saturday the keynote speaker, Scott Weidensaul, enlightened and entertained the banquet gathering with information learned about the recent Snowy Owl incursion the winter of 2013-2014.  The banquet itself was efficiently served and the meal was excellent.

Those of us from the Augusta Bird Club and Monticello Bird Club who were privileged to host this special event received only favorable comments from participants.  They seemed to like it all and we’re so glad they did.

I thank all the organizers and volunteers who helped assure this to be a meeting worth attending and remembering.

John Spahr
Chair, Annual Meeting Organizing Committee
Augusta Bird Club