- Established 1982 -

HOME: www.hiltonpond.org

29 April-4 May 2013

Installment #570---Visitor #blog graphics

Subscribe for free to our award-winning nature newsletter

(Back to Preceding Week; on to Next Week)

Join birders & citizen scientists for
Operation RubyThroat trips to
observe & band hummingbirds in
Costa Rica East & Guatemala in Nov 2013. Excursions for 2014 will be added soon.

Click on logo above left for itineraries & trip details


In my continuing effort to catch up on posting "This Week at Hilton Pond" AND to maintain continuity in reporting phenological happenings at Hilton Pond Center, I offer the following installment covering the first few days of May 2013. Some entries appeared in some form on the Center's Facebook page while others--and several images--are new.

Happy Nature Watching!



All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

29 April-2 May

Late afternoon on 28 April, Ernesto Carman Jr.--my long-time Costa Rica guide, collaborator, and friend--and I loaded net poles, banding equipment, binoculars, and personal gear into Hilton Pond Center's full-sized Ford Econoline van and headed north, with Susan Hilton as navigator. Our specific destination was Opossum Creek Retreat in Fayette County, home of the New River Birding & Nature Festival. I've been involved with this outstanding annual event since its inception in 2003, leading banding workshops and field trips for 100-plus participants from across North America.

Bird Watcher's Digest calls the New River festival one of the top birding events in the country and--in fact--BWD editor Bill Thompson III and his wife Julie Zickefoose attend and make presentations each year. Other recent notables include Dr. Scott Shalaway (nature columnist & radio host from Pittsburgh), Jim McCormac (nongame specialist with Ohio Division of Wildlife), Pat & Clay Sutton (naturalists & authors from Cape May NJ), Connie Toops (nature writer & photographer in North Carolina), Ben Lizdas (sales manager for Eagle Optics), Katie Fallon (author of a recent book about Cerulean Warblers), Jim Rapp (director of Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center in Maryland), and numerous others. Ernesto (at left above with Thompson & Fallon) was invited this year as an accomplished birding guide who could bring an international perspective.

In addition to co-leading field trips for the Festival, 'Nesto also was in the U.S. for some intensive training in the art and science of banding birds. At Hilton Pond Center and during Operation RubyThroat's expeditions to Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, and Nicaragua I've given him ample opportunity to practice his skills--all in the hope he will qualify soon for a U.S. subpermit to band Neotropical migrants in Costa Rica when I'm not there conducting research. To this end 'Nesto helped in West Virginia with banding demos for participants in the New River festival and for a concurrently offered Road Scholar session (formerly Elderhostel). He also gave an afternoon "popcorn lecture" about bird-friendly Finca Cristina, an innovative organic shade-grown coffee farm his family owns and operates at Paraíso, Costa Rica east of San Jose.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center
Cerulean Warbler photo above courtesy Ernesto Carman Jr.

As further evidence of the overall quality of the event, 'Nesto remarked the New River Birding & Nature Festival had been the most exciting week of his life--in part because he got to observe Cerulean Warblers (above) he studies along their migratory path in his home country of Costa Rica. (For more info about the New River Birding & Nature Festival and other nature-related events in West Virginia, please see www.birding-wv.com.)

After Thursday morning's field trips and my own popcorn lecture about hummingbird research in the Neotropics, Susan, 'Nesto, and I boarded the van and headed back south toward Hilton Pond. The Festival was due to go on for two more days, but we had another engagement to get ready for back in South Carolina.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

3 May

Ernesto Carman Jr. got up early on 3 May, drank some Café Cristina light roast he brought with him from home, and set two sunflower seed traps that snared only a couple of female American Goldfinches (above)--each already showing her bright spring plumage. We were on a tight schedule, however, requiring us to quit banding by mid-morning at Hilton Pond for a van trip to Newberry College, a small Lutheran school in the Midlands of South Carolina where now-wife Susan and I long ago received undergraduate degrees--she in psychology and I in philosophy. We were bound for our alma mater and graduation weekend festivities, including a jazz band concert on the afternoon of 3 May recognizing senior band members and long-time band director Bill Long, who was about to retire. 'Nesto was quite impressed by the talents of the ensemble, as were the Hiltons--as always--and we later delighted in giving him a walking tour of campus and regaling him with tales of our years at Newberry (3.5 for Susan and six for me--but that's another story). We spent the night in town across the street from the Newberry Opera House (above left), a beautifully restored and now fully functional structure built in 1881.

4 May

We all arose on the morning of 4 May a bit more excited than usual, for it was the events of this day that actually brought us to Newberry. It seems my undergraduate college had asked me to deliver the commencement address for the 156 graduating members of the Class of 2013 and had seen fit to grant me an honorary doctorate.

I was deeply honored by the invitation to speak and even more so by the school's wish to award me the Doctor of Science degree (D.Sci.). I beg the indulgence of followers of "This Week at Hilton Pond" in allowing me to share my personally rewarding news with you in this current installment. College president Dr. Maurice Scherrens accepted the following citation and conferred the honorary degree as Dr. Wayne Kannaday (faculty marshall, above right) and Hap Pearce (chair of the College's board of trustees) bestowed my doctoral hood:

In recognition for service to his alma mater,
Newberry College Class of 1970;
His continued dedication to educating and learning;
In honor of past recognition he has received from the College, including:
The faculty’s highest recognition the Luceo Mea Luce Award and
His charter membership into the Newberry College Hall of Master Teachers; and
His implementation of the John Bachman Symposium during the
College’s 150th Anniversary; and,
For his service to the Alumni Association and the Board of Trustees,

Newberry College is pleased to confer upon
William J. Hilton Jr.
The degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa,
with all rights and privileges thereto appertaining
on the fourth day of May 2013

After the awarding of the honorary degree, vice president of academic affairs Dr. Tim Elston made the following introduction:

In 2002, Bill Hilton Jr. was President-Elect of the Newberry College Alumni Association and the College’s 150th anniversary was still four years away. Bill had the vision to make the Sesquicentennial a four-day celebration in honor of College founder, Rev. John Bachman [below right, for whom John James Audubon named Bachman's Warbler and Bachman's Sparrow].

This ambitious symposium brought Bachman scholars, Newberry alumni, Bachman family members, and other interested individuals from across the country to the College. It involved every student, faculty member, and all departments. The Bachman Web site he created (www.johnbachman.org) is still the Internet’s most visited resource about John Bachman and is frequently visited by students, teachers, and the general public.

Bill has shown that he always has a vision to the future. He was instrumental in launching the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics in Hartsville.

In 2008, Discover magazine cited him as one of the "50 Best Brains in Science" and one of the ten top amateur scientists in America. He is a widely published author on nature and education and leads workshops across the United States and internationally.

He founded Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History on family property in York, South Carolina, as a non-profit research, education, and conservation organization. “This Week at Hilton Pond” is an on-going series of photo essays about nature and phenomena in the Carolina Piedmont. It consistently ranks in the top 20 natural history blogs out of more than 2,500 monitored internationally by Nature Blog Network.

We are pleased to have Newberry College graduate Dr. Bill Hilton Jr. as our commencement speaker today.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center
Commencement photos courtesy The Newberry Observer

In addressing the Newberry College Class of 2013 I wanted to avoid commencement clichés, make my comments personal and Newberry-related, and include a few appropriate references to natural history. After many weeks of pondering the speech, my topic evolved as Luck, Destiny, and Serendipity: Confessions of a Frisbee Fanatic. I'm happy (and relieved) to say it was well-received. To read the thoughts I shared with the graduating seniors and their guests, please see Newberry College Commencement Address, May 2013.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

All contributions are tax-deductible on your
3 income tax form
See list of recent supporters below

"This Week at Hilton Pond" is written and photographed by Bill Hilton Jr., executive director of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History

Please refer "This Week at Hilton Pond" to others by clicking on this button:

Follow us on Twitter:


Comments or questions about this week's installment? Send an E-mail to INFO. (Be sure to scroll down for a tally of birds banded/recaptured during the period, plus other nature notes.)

Click for York, South Carolina Forecast
Click on image at right for live Web cam of Hilton Pond,
plus daily weather summary

Transmission of weather data from Hilton Pond Center via WeatherSnoop for Mac.

You may wish to consult our Index of all nature topics covered since
February 2000, or use our on-line
Hilton Pond Search Engine:

For a free on-line subscription to "This Week at Hilton Pond," send us an
E-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the Subject line and configure your spam filter
to accept E-mails from hiltonpond.org.

Thanks to the following fine folks for recent gifts in support of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History and/or Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project. Your tax-deductible contributions allow us to continue writing, photographing, and sharing "This Week at Hilton Pond" with students, teachers, and the general public. Please see Support or scroll below if you'd like to make an end-of-year tax-deductible gift of your own.

  • None this week (alas!)

If you enjoy "This Week at Hilton Pond," please help support
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History.
It's painless, and YOU can make a difference!

(Just CLICK on a logo below or send a check if you like; see Support for address.)

Make credit card donations
on-line via
Network for Good:
Use your PayPal account
to make direct donations:
If you like shopping on-line please become a member of iGive, through which 1,200+ on-line stores from Amazon to Lands' End and even iTunes donate a percentage of your purchase price to support Hilton Pond Center. ..Every new member who registers with iGive and makes a purchase through them earns an ADDITIONAL $5 for the Center. You can even do Web searches through iGive and earn a penny per search--sometimes TWO--for the cause! Please enroll by going to the iGive Web site. It's a painless, important way for YOU to support our on-going work in conservation, education, and research. Add the iGive Toolbar to your browser and register Operation RubyThroat as your preferred charity to make it even easier to help Hilton Pond Center when you shop.

The Piedmont Naturalist--Vol. 1--1986 (Hilton Pond Press) is an award-winning collection of newspaper columns that first appeared in The Herald in Rock Hill SC. Optimized for tablets such as iPad and Kindle, electronic downloads of the now out-of-print volume are available by clicking on the links below. The digital version includes pen-and-ink drawings from the original edition--plus lots of new color photos. All sales go
to support the work of
Hilton Pond Center.

29 April-4 May 2013

American Goldfinch--2

* = New species for 2013

1 species
2 individuals

15 species

773 individuals

(since 28 June 1982, during which time 171 species have been observed on or over the property)
126 species
58,924 individuals

(with original banding date, sex, and current age):
Northern Cardinal (1)
08/25/10--4th year female

Hiouse Finch (1)
02/16/12--after 2nd year female

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

This Week at Hilton Pond
is part of the

Nature Blog Network

--There was very little banding at Hilton Pond Center during the period because we were in West Virginia and at Newberry College for two special events (see write-up above).

--The Center's Yearly Yard List 2013 of birds seen on or over the property stands at 38 species as of 4 May.

--Last week's photo essay was about local nature happenings during the second half of April 2013. It's archived and always available on the Hilton Pond Center Web site as Installment #569.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

Please report your sightings of
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

(spring female at right)

(Back to Preceding Week; on to Next Week)

Back to "This Week at Hilton Pond" Main

Current Weather Conditions at Hilton Pond Center

The Center's backyard Web cam at Weather Underground

Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research, conservation & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Dr. Bill Hilton Jr., aka "The Piedmont Naturalist," it is parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Web site contents--including text and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To request permission for use or for further assistance, please contact Webmaster.

Radio Shack Coupon
The link above is required by a Web site that provides us with a free page counter.
You are not obligated to click on the link.