After getting my car at the airport I drove to Titusville, FL where the meeting was held in conjunction with the SpaceCoast Birding Festival. Weather was in the mid-upper 60’s and forecasts called for sunny skies and 70’s for both Wednesday and Thursday when we’d be out in the field as part of our little competition: teams of two to bird all day Wednesday and digiscope images for entry into a number of categories that included “Birds”, “Non-Birds”, “Landscape/Man-made”, “Flight”, “Short Video” and “Video Story”.
First stop was the college where registration and workshops were held. Then onto the Quality Inn to check in to my room. I then drove over to the Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant for a Meet-n-Greet with the fore-mentioned folks. I had a wonderful time meeting all of these other folks who’ve been my inspiration, and was a bit shocked when I learned that many were anxious to finally meet me. Whaaat?
While Stephen gave his workshop at the college I walked around to look for Paul Sayegh (Digidapter™) and spent some time transferring images to the computer. When his class was over we drove over to Viera Wetlands Park for the afternoon.
We then witnessed several teal starting to go ballistic, tearing across the water, diving, splashing and shaking. I couldn’t get the scope on them since the boards of the hide were too high to digiscope over. So I backed up, stood on a bench, and extended the tripod to full height and proceeded to take several slow-motion videos of the birds splashing, shaking and flapping. I felt sure that I was going to win the ‘video’ competition until Sharon Stiteler decided to destroy me with her iMovie production of her day. To top that, Dale and Gudrun’s production of their day was voted most popular! Oh, well.
I would spend most of the night uploading images (except my video - grrrr) and trying to come up w/ enough images for the competition categories. With too many photos to choose from I called it quits at midnight.
Stephen and I met for breakfast the following morning and reviewed our entries. Though none of our images would place in the competition we had some lovely images. The competition would highlight the talents of Tara / Jorg, Simon / Kevin, Justin / Danny, and Dale / Gudrun. Spectacular images! Justin Carr was able to photograph a butterfly in flight. Unbelievable…
The Holiday Inn Luncheon was wonderful. We spent the time chatting, reviewing images, and voting for winning photos. The consensus of most people was that for future get-togethers we should just submit our top images and have them displayed at random throughout luck.
After chatting with Tom Berriman for a few minutes I continued around the cell looking for more Purple Gallinules (w/o luck). I spotted several Eastern Phoebes and Palm Warblers, but had to keep a wary eye out for several huge Alligators that were sunning themselves on the dike ahead of me! Luckily they scrambled into the water upon my approach, but I felt a bit like a potential lunch for a few minutes…
|Robert Wilson and Neil Pfifer|
|Danny Porter, Tom Berriman, Kevin Bolton, Jorg Kretzchmar|
|Tobey Wilson, Glenn Kincaid, Dale Forbes, Tom Berriman, Danny Porter|
|Bill Schmoker, Drew Weber|
|Robert Hunt, Glenn Kincaid, Danny Porter|
|Tobey Wilson, Kevin Bolton, Robert Wilson|
|Simon Crumby, Anna Koeman, Kevin Bolton, Justin Carr, Jorg Kretzchmar|
|Robert Hunt, Clayton Taylor, Sharon Stiteler, Danny Porter|
After dinner w/ the gang at Dixie Crossroads I headed back to the hotel to pack and head home Friday morning.
I’m grateful to Clay Taylor, Dale Forbes, Jorg Kretzchmar and Swarovski Optik for hosting this visit, but especially to Robert Wilson who proved to be the catalyst for making it happen. He contacted folks from all over the world and convinced them to fly to the States for this event, and it couldn’t have gone better. I met some of the finest people and cherished my time with them. Thanks also to Mr. Stephen Ingraham and Zeiss for allowing me to be his guest for the day on Wednesday. Hopefully in a few years we’ll all be able to get together again!