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Taking Flight: Birding in the Catskills

  • Frost Valley YMCA 2000 Frost Valley Road Claryville, NY, 12725 United States (map)

The Catskill Center is thrilled to announce dates for its second annual birding conference, “Taking Flight: Birding in the Catskills”. Taking Flight will be held Friday, June 9th through Sunday, June 11th at the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, NY. 

This is not your typical birding weekend! We have combined the best of a birding conference with a birding festival, and have invented an event that is rich with presenters you will want to hear, speaking on topics you will want to learn about. 

Friday's Keynote speaker, Brian "Fox" Ellis at JJ Audubon

Friday's Keynote speaker, Brian "Fox" Ellis at JJ Audubon

The Friday keynote will feature Brian “Fox” Ellis. Storyteller and author Brian “Fox” Ellis, in the persona of John James Audubon, brings history, ecology, art and literature to life in this meticulously researched program that celebrates the life work of one of America’s greatest artist and naturalist! Ellis is an internationally renowned storyteller and naturalist who has been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on environmental concerns, including the International Wetlands Conservation Conference, and the North American Prairie Conservation Conference, et al. He is the author of sixteen books including the critically acclaimed Learning From the Land: Teaching Ecology Through Stories and Activities. Many of his stories are also available on one of twelve CDs. His first children’s picture book, THE WEB at Dragonfly Pond was selected as Conservation Education Book of the Year.

Saturday's Keynote speaker, Richard Crossley

Saturday's Keynote speaker, Richard Crossley

Our Saturday keynote speaker, Richard Crossley, is an internationally acclaimed birder, photographer and award winning author of ‘The Crossley ID Guide’ series. Crazy, wildly passionate, driven and single-minded are just a few of the words used to describe his love of birding and the outdoors.

Born in Yorkshire, UK, Richard first visited Cape May, NJ after graduating, and moved there in 1991 after falling in love with the birding and town. After 20 years of hiding in the business world while raising his family (with wife Debra, 2 kids and a dog – all blondes), Richard co-authored the successful The Shorebird Guide. He quickly became obsessed with the newfound opportunities provided by digital technology, Photoshop and book design. The Crossley ID Guide series was created.

The innovative design of his Crossley ID Guide series shows a more lifelike and complete picture, challenging many of the traditional ‘old-school’ book layouts. This allows kids and beginners a better understanding of the looks and lives of birds. Recognized with multiple awards, this series has created a movement for other wildlife guides to put more emphasis on habitat, behavior and other imagery that we can relate to in real life.

Richard is also co-founder of the global birding initiative Pledge to Fledge ( ), Race4Birds ( and The Cape May Young Birders Club. He has contributed to most major birding publications, is frequently heard on radio and is a highly sought-after public speaker. He served on the board of directors at the famous Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. He firmly believes that the time is right to popularize birding in the USA and other parts of the world. When recently asked why he takes on so many projects, his answer, “it beats working” sums up his passion for everything outdoors.

Richard will also host a special Sunday morning “Learning to Look” field trip to close out the weekend. The key to becoming a competent birder is learning how to understand what you are looking at. The emphasis on this mornings walk with Richard will be look at every bird like the experts do. When asked if he wanted to put all the tour guides out of business, Richard's answer was 'yes!'