The 55th Annual Meeting of the Federation was held September 20-22,
2002 in Owego, hosted by the Naturalists' Club of Broome County with the
assistance of the Tioga Bird Club. Thanks to both clubs and especially
to Sara Kinch and Gail Kirch for their unflagging efforts to attend
to every detail and make the meeting a highly successful event.
Pond Wetland Preserve
Birding throughout the weekend was less than spectacular because of the
peculiar weather patterndays and days of southerly winds that kept
the migrants at bay. Nonetheless, we enjoyed stretching our legs and seeing
some beautiful birding hotspots. Among the natural areas we visited on
field trips were the Waterman Conservation Center and the Brick Pond Wetland
Preserve, both owned by the Waterman
Conservation Education Center in Apalachin, just down the road from
At the Waterman Conservation Center, we enjoyed beautiful trails through
meadows, forest, and a hemlock gorge, followed by a visit to the gift
shop and interpretive center. This 95-acre preserve contains varied habitats
and is surely a great place to bird during better flight days. And Brick
Pond Preserve is a wetland area with a floating boardwalk that leads straight
across a large marsh. Great Blue Herons and Wood Ducks were everywhere
and a Green Heron was sunning himself on a floating log. We were surprised
to hear a Brown Creeper singing persistently for upwards of 20 minutes
or so during our visit.
Back at the hotel, we spent some time browsing through the various vendor
and informational displays, which included everything from live whirligig
beetles to incredible optics with 4-digit price tags. In between were
T-shirts, jewelry, stuffed plush birds that sing, and antique paintings,
among other things.
Friday Evening Reception
After the reception Friday evening on a beautiful patio on the banks
of the river, we had a nice dinner and then enjoyed presentations about
the history of the area and the Susquehanna, and then an informal discussion
about the breeding bird atlas project.
Delegates from most of the 51 member clubs attended the annual business
meeting of the Federation on Saturday morning. Federation committee chairs
reported on the past year's activities and future plans, and we elected
officers for the coming year. As is the convention, this year's officers
will serve for another year. Three board members were elected: Barbara
Butler (second term), Gail Kirch and Andy Mason (both first term).
Bryan Swift of the Department of Environmental Conservation gave an extensive
report about bird conservation-related programs within the department.
He had lots to talk about; some good news and some concerns. Highlights
- The state has designated 19 Bird
Conservation Areas within state-owned lands. Other state-owned lands
are being considered for BCA designation.
- Breeding Bird Atlas results provide key bird status information
for many DEC decisions.
- Special studies are being conducted for Common Loons, Spruce
Grouse, Black Terns, Brant, Short-eared Owls, and shorebirds.
linked to zebra mussels and other exotics, is affecting birds on Lake
Erie. The DEC plans to set up monitoring for it on the Lake Ontario
shores. Please alert DEC about waterbird mortality.
- There is new federal funding for fish & wildlife programs.
New York's allocation is $3.7 million. Bryan is on the team planning
the use of these funds.
Bob Budliger could not attend but sent a report about his actions as
Conservation Chairman. He sent a letter about the model airplane issue
at Shawangunk Grasslands NWR (aka Galeville Airport) and attended a meeting
about the feral cat issue on Long Island. He notes that Audubon of New
York State is seeking new nominations for Important
Bird Areas. Bob has resigned as Conservation Chairman. The new chairman
is Andy Mason of the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society.
Marty Borko proposed a resolution
calling for a visitor center for folks coming to the Upper Delaware River
area to see Bald Eagles. The resolution was adopted by the delegates.
The most important issue, at least to the Federation as an organization,
was a proposal to change its name. Our current name obscures the fact
that individuals can be members. Kevin McGowan led a discussion of the
pros and cons and some possible new names. Discussion will continue among
the clubs and with the board until the next annual meeting. A vote will
be taken at that time.
A nice variety of topics were covered during the paper session on Saturday
afternoon. Bob Pantle presented a small part of the data from his 40 years
of banding birds in Tioga County. Other speakers' topics included West
Nile Virus, restoring riparian habitat, Breeding Bird Atlas interim maps,
and Black Terns. In keeping with tradition, Max Wheat concluded the session
with a reading of his poetry.
Dunne signing books
On Saturday evening, food for the body was followed by food for the soul,
as Pete Dunne told us his version of Roger Tory Peterson's arrival in
Heaven. Earlier in the evening, we had had the opportunity to meet this
incomparable birder/storyteller and his wife during his book signing in
Also on Saturday, awards were presented. You can check out the details
here on our website.
Sunday morning, our hosts had planned a special breakfast for us on legendary
Island. In spite of the rain, we had a grand breakfast in the woods. To
the chefs who cooked over open fires in the relentless downpour: bravo!
The creation of such delicious meals while getting drenched to the skin
was nothing short of heroic! After breakfast, Fran Dunbar (aka the Mayor
of Hiawatha Island) shared with us the decade-old story of the threatened
destruction of this beautiful island at the hands of a gravel mining corporation
which had planned to purchase it at auction. We learned that a grass-roots
band of passionate preservationists, led by Fran, joined in on the bidding
for the island and succeeded in purchasing it with the help of several
local residents who mortgaged their homes to raise the needed funds. Five
years later, the loans had all been repaid and the island was donated
to the Waterman Conservation Education Center for permanent protection.
The theme of this year's meeting was "There's something about a
river." We who live on the banks of the Hudson knew that, of course.
But we learned that each river has something unique about it...even if
it flows in only one direction. We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend on the
banks of the lovely Susquehanna.
Next year's annual meeting will be held the weekend of October 31-November
2, 2003 at the Chautauqua
Institution in Chautauqua with visits to the Roger
Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown. Plan to attend!