Thursday, November 18, 2010

More news of Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

While birders who cannot attend bird events -- like the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival on Nov. 10-14 -- can keep track of the field trips, presentations and other activities via newspapers' websites, they have other online options, too. Many birders attending festivals -- and even the festivals themselves -- now use Twitter, Facebook and blogs to relay information, providing another way for those at home to follow along.

Many festival attendees with Twitter accounts used a hashtag to mark their festival-related 140-character updates during the RGV festival. #RGVBF yields a stream of attendees' tweets and retweets, revealing various birders including Chip Clouse, Catherine Hamilton, Laura Kammermeier (shown right), Tom Kuenzli, Justine Riegel, Sharon Stiteler and me. Other festival attendees posted tweets but opted not to use the hashtag, such as Steve Ingraham and Clay Taylor.

The more widespread use of smartphones makes it easy for birders to use Twitter and other websites while in the field, sharing their whereabouts and sightings, and folks at home as well as other festival attendees can keep tabs and interact in real time. Plus, with many newer smartphones featuring better digital cameras, birders can snap photos -- even through their spotting scopes -- and upload them to Twitter, Facebook and other sites.

If you're Facebook friends with birders attending a festival, you might receive a very good glimpse of the various events. Last week's Facebook roster of RGVBF updaters entails two hands (according to my count), and the group offered a nice selection of photographs and words to their friends.

Lots of birders who tweet and use Facebook also blog. Based on personal experience, I admire folks who create good blog posts during a festival; we're so often busy enjoying the birds and people that we reserve little time to sit at a laptop and craft a coherent post with words and photos. Photo-heavy posts, like this one from Birdchick and this one from Dave Dolan, provide a nice option.

Short-and-sweet posts are the norm, as Laura Kammermeier demonstrates while pointing out a post by Antshrike with more details. Some of us work on our blogs after the festivities cease, as Birdspot did, drawing on her previous tweets. If you know of other bloggers who posted festival entries, kindly let me know.

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