In the past the birding festival was a three day event said Murrell Foster, Executive Director of the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce. However, this year, the event was scaled down to one day. “We believe we can make the one day function very interesting and fulfilling to all levels of birders,” said Foster.
The event began at 7 a.m. with registration and coffee followed by birding tours by four professional guides. The guides include: Joshua Rose, World Birding Center, Brownsville; John Yochum, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Welaco; Miles Phillips, Asst. Professor of nature Tourism, TAMU; and Nan Diedert, Port Aransas.
“The first tour that walked in the morning saw 61 species and we have added several more species from this walk,” said Rose. A few examples of birds we have seen include: Audubon’s oriole, Olive Sparrow, Ladderback Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Long-billed Thrasher and a Great Horned Owl. The owl is very photogenic,” Rose said. However, by the end of the day, 91 species had been seen said Phillips.
During the evening meal of barbecue, Sylvia Garcia-Smith, professional nature photographer, gave a slide show presentation of birds in the Coastal Bend and a small talk on nature photography. “She was fantastic. After her presentation, all of the birders gave her a standing ovation,” said Foster.
“I talked a bit about how I got started photographing birds and showed a presentation of bird photos. I answered questions and afterwards, I went out into the parking lot and photographed this little ‘gal’ [great horned owl] she was nesting right in the parking lot by the gym and seemed very content with the area and wasn’t frightened by me,” said Garcia-Smith.
“I really enjoyed the session and met lots of folks. I hope I can do that again. I learned from folks and they learned a bit from me. God’s beauty is in every minute of everyday,” Garcia-Smith concluded.