All trips begin with breakfast at Burnwood at 6 AM. Breakfast is hot buffet-style under a pavilion. Cranberry and Windmill Wonderland trips have grab-n-go to eat en route to depart Burnwood as quickly as possible and return by 5 PM. All other trips depart by 7 AM and return by 2 PM. Field Trip transportation is provided.
After field trips depart from Burnwood, modern restroom facilities may be limited; some routes stop at available public areas for restroom breaks; some destinations have varying park facilities.
In response to weather, road conditions and bird movement, trip routes may be adjusted and some trips may overlap territory.
• Burnwood to Babcock
• Kanawha Falls
• Sugar Creek
• Muddlety to Carnifex
• Cranberry *returns ~5 PM
• ACE Reptiles & Amphibians
• Windmill Wonderland *returns ~5 PM
• Glade Creek
• The Summit
• Wolf Creek & Rail Trail
May 1 - 6, 2023
Burnwood to Babcock
Babcock State Park is one of West Virginia’s premier state parks, and home to one of America’s most photographed grist mills in Mann's Creek Canyon. Filled with wonderful vistas and teaming with warblers and vireos, the area offers some of the best opportunities for Black-throated Green Warblers, Swainson's Warblers and Blue-headed Vireos.
*The initial ride is ~40 minutes. We’ll be in and out of the bus with plenty to explore and walking short distances along paved paths and mostly level dirt roads but with a couple of short hills. Return ride is ~50 minutes.
From rim to river to rim, this loop takes us to the Kanawha Falls just below the confluence of the New and Gauley Rivers. A very scenic route, we stop at parks, waterfalls, and various habitat elevations. Along the way, we hope to find Cliff Swallows (at the only known location for them), maybe get lucky to see a Redheaded Woodpecker, various waterfowl at river level, as well as a variety of warblers and mid-level passerines along the way.
*The initial ride is ~15 minutes. We'll be in and out the bus with minimal walking between stops. Return ride is ~20 minutes.
Providing spectacular scenic views, this trip was added to the Festival itinerary in 2005 and continues to receive rave reviews. It is a short ride and sure to please those with plant interests as well as bird watchers. Descending from a high ridge separating the New and Gauley Rivers, this trip provides the unique experience of exploring high, mid, and river level territories. We're hopeful to get to the river but winters are hard on back mountain roads so we'll go as far as we can. Birds commonly seen include Cerulean Warbler, Yellow and Black-billed Cuckoos, Scarlet Tanager, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles.
*The initial ride is ~25 minutes. We’ll be in and out of the bus with minimal hiking between stops. Return ride is ~60 minutes.
update Muddlety to Carnifex
Described by American Birding Association President Jeff Gordon as “the birdiest habitat in the Appalachians” this trip through varied habitat of wetlands and ridge tops offers quality looks at favorite migrants and resident birds, butterflies, plants and wildlife. If we’re lucky, we can stop to hug the century’s old largest tulip popular tree in West Virginia.
*The initial ride is ~50 minutes. We’re in and out of the bus with minimal hiking between stops. Return ride is ~45 minutes.
This is a true favorite that many returning participants continue to repeat. Year after year we hear it is “well worth the drive” from participants and guides alike. This All Day trip is an opportunity to take full advantage of the unique birding and flora found in a remnant of the glacial age. The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is among West Virginia’s most unique eco-systems as it consists of bogs and highland areas whose plant and bird life are similar to that found in the "muskegs" of the far north. The southern-most point in North America where some northern-most plant and bird species are found! A boardwalk through a botanical area is ripe with flora seen nowhere else in WV. Also often seen on this trip are abundant signs of black bear. Birds normally encountered on this trip include Canada Warbler, Black-throated Blue, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Northern Waterthrushes, singing Hermit Thrush, and species not normally encountered elsewhere in the state… Red-breasted Nuthatch and Red Crossbill.
*Trip departs as quickly as everyone arrives. Breakfast is grab-n-go. The initial ride is ~90 minutes. Participants are in and out of the bus at various stops with minimal walking on mostly level land, including a half-mile boardwalk mile loop that truly is slippery when wet. Return ride is ~120 minutes. Return time ~5pm.
ACE Reptiles & Amphibians
Added in 2018 and immediately became a favorite, this is a hands on exploration of the outstanding biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles found in a variety of habitats is staffed with great herpetologists for your discovery and identification experience. We carpool to the largest outdoor adventure resort in the county with several great locations with interesting life to discover. WVDNR reports there are currently 65 known species of amphibians and reptiles in Fayette County. Several amphibian and reptile species are on WV’s rare species list and two species of salamander are endemic to West Virginia. Birds we may encounter include Pileated Woodpecker, ducks, wood warblers, and Belted Kingfisher. If we’re lucky, we’ll see North American River Otter and North American Beaver.
*The initial ride is ~20 minutes. We’ll ride to a few locations on the property with some hiking at each stop, along lakes, ponds, creeks, and woodland trails on mostly level ground, and there are a few inclines with varying soft or rocky terrain. Return ride is ~20 minutes.
Flowing into the heart of New River, Glade Creek offers true exploration of our major flyway. Year after year, point counts conducted along this corridor yield an unmatched diversity of species and it’s among the first places in our area to receive flocks of migrating warblers, vireos, orioles and tanagers. A treasure to our local birding community, we look forward to getting you into this birdy and beautiful part of the Gorge - rich in birds, botany and butterflies!
*The initial ride is ~45 minutes. The majority of the day is spent on a leisurely walk along a graveled Park Service road following the river. Return ride is ~60 minutes.
update The Summit
When Fayette County, WV hosted the the 2019 World Scouting Jamboree we found our favorite way to make use of the 10,000 acre Summit Bechtel Reserve... bird it! The scouts call it home for the next 100 years and you'll see why they're so excited. We won't cover all 10,000 acres but we'll hit some hot spots, including a lake and a gorgeous spot called "Garden Ground" perched on a long, high ridge with a fabulous overlook. And, we'll have lunch in the treetops inside the amazing Sustainability Treehouse. When we manage to pull ourselves away from this picnic spot, there are a few other gems to hit before heading back. We have been lucky to bird the property and have had some exciting sightings, like the Golden-winged Warbler, Grasshopper Sparrow, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and oriels. We're hoping for a Swainson's Warbler to make this the trifecta of trips!
*The initial ride is ~30 minutes. We’re in and out of the bus with minimum hiking between stops. Return ride is ~30 minutes.
Wolf Creek & Rail Trail
Voted #1 Birdwatching Spot in Best of the Blue Ridge: 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards, Wolf Creek Park's Wetlands Boardwalk and Woodland Trails usually offers great views of many birds including Blue-winged Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Black-and-white Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and diverse plant life. The site is an outdoor classroom, active research station and bird banding site since 2009. Then over to the White Oak Rail Trail that offers biodiversity due to a school complex, creek bed, and small town environment. This is an easy, and usually wonderfully birdy, field trip.
*The initial ride is ~20 minutes. This is usually a two stop bus ride with an easy walk on mostly level ground over woodland trails, boardwalk, and rail trail. Return ride is ~20 minutes.