Keynotes, Presenters and Workshops

Brian "Fox" Ellis at JJ Audubon

Brian "Fox" Ellis at JJ Audubon

Friday Keynote

Brian Fox Ellis as John J. Audubon

Storyteller and author Brian “Fox” Ellis, in the persona of 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!

Brian "Fox" 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.

Richard Crossley

Richard Crossley

Saturday Keynote

Richard Crossley

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, Richard first visited Cape May, USA 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 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.

Presenters & Workshops

Birding for Beginners

Experience the exciting variety of birdlife that inhabits the Catskills with local naturalist Scott Graber.  The workshop will include an indoor information session followed by a bird walk in the nearby habitat.  We’ll focus on learning the basics of identification by sight and sound.  Shape, color, size, features, behavior, and vocalizations will all be covered.  If you’re new to birding or have always wondered what birds exist beyond your backyard, this is the field trip for you!  Binoculars and sturdy walking shoes are required.

Scott has been an avid birder for nearly 35 years and has led numerous field trips for the National Audubon Society, NYS Parks & Recreation, as well as the Bashakill Area Association.  Additionally, he spent many intriguing hours surveying the nooks and crannies of the Catskills during the most recent New York State Breeding Bird Atlas Project.


Automatic identification of photos on your smartphone. Tools to find birds anywhere in the world, at your fingertips, all for free. Want to know where to find your next lifers, and how to plan your next birding trip with ease? Technology is advancing so rapidly that it’s now possible to build tools for birdwatchers that weren’t even fathomable only a couple years ago. Sightings and photographs submitted by birders like you around the world help build the future of birding, while also providing incredibly valuable information for researchers and conservationists—giving back to the birds that we all care so much about. Come learn about eBird and Merlin, two free projects that can help you find and learn about birds like never before. Even if you’ve used eBird and Merlin before, this is an opportunity to learn how to get the most out of the free tools that the Cornell Lab has to offer.

Ian Davies works at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as the Project Coordinator for eBird (, a free global database of bird sightings that is used by birdwatchers, researchers, and conservationists worldwide. More than 335 million sightings of birds from every country on earth are available for free use by anyone, contributed by more than 315,000 birdwatchers like you. Ian got interested in birds at age 13 when he visited a banding station and released a Canada Warbler. He has been lost to the feathered world ever since. He enjoys traveling to find birds, making sure to collect information on the birds seen through eBird, and sharing those resources with birding communities worldwide. He has visited more than 30 countries in the pursuit of birds so far, and looks forward to continuing to explore the amazing natural world that we live in.

Field Trips

Saturday morning "slide mountain and bicknell's thursh" with steve chorvas

Steve Chorvas will lead a hike up Slide Mountain Saturday, June 10.  Steve says “I know there are now field trip leaders routinely using bird song recordings to draw out birds for closer looks and frame-filling photos, and some conference attendees may be expecting this on a hike up a mountain, but I don't use song recordings, especially during the bird's breeding season, and try to discourage others from doing so”. 

Steve has been interested in birds and nature from a very early age, and would describe himself as a self-taught naturalist with a special interest in the birds and butterflies of the Catskill Mountains and Mid-Hudson Valley region.  Born and raised locally, Steve now lives in the Town of Saugerties and has been hiking and birding in the Catskill Mountains for over forty years.  He is a field trip leader for several organizations, including the John Burroughs Natural History Society and the Esopus Creek Conservancy, and has conducted annual breeding bird surveys on the summits of several Catskill Mountain High Peaks for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies.  

This field trip is limited to 12 participants and has an extra cost of $20 per person.

sunday morning "learning to look" with richard crossley

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, Richards answer was 'yes!'

This field trip is limited to 14 participants and has an extra cost of $20 per person.