When the river is low and the fossils are fully exposed, we have many special activities at the Falls of the Ohio. Last year, it started raining in September and didn’t stop until May, so some of these events had to be cancelled. This summer has been exceptionally dry and the special events have been very successful. Paul Olliges and other volunteers led trips to the Outer Fossil Beds, taking hikers though the spillway under the dam, down along the wall, and back again, stopping to examine Devonian fossils along with way. Bet Etenohan, one of the park Nature Interpreters, had a good turnout for her canoe hike. A canoe hike combines canoeing upstream from the Clark Cabin boat ramp up to the Outer Fossil Beds, to pull the boats on the rocks and hike around exploring the fossil formations – thus a Canoe-Hike.Rock the Rocks is the annual fundraiser dinner for the Falls Foundation. We invited some special friends this year and just went to enjoy the food, music and a beautiful evening on the river. God himself came to this sunset, and I took his picture. I always think that the sun’s rays stretching from the horizon to the skies are God’s own hand. Now I’m having trouble deciding which of these sunset pictures to share on this blog! The Festival vendors and speakers come from all over with rocks, minerals, and of course fossils of every shape and size. Geodes are very popular and you can find unopened geodes, or others that have been split and polished. The amethysts are exceptionally beautiful in the sunlight. Hanson’s Quarry brought in three loads of dirt this year – one of Waldron Shale from the Silurian period, one from the Devonian era, and one with minerals from a quarry in Illinois. Since fossil collecting in the park is prohibited, this gives everyone, young or old, the chance to dig in the dirt and find their very own fossil. It’s much more exciting to find one yourself even though the purchased fossil may be much prettier. One boy in particular was dedicated to both his dig and his “hard hat”, which kept sliding down in his face! As much as I enjoyed the beautiful rocks and fossils, the birds were beautiful too on this perfect autumn day. I started walking through the woods early to get a good start on the migrating birds, making pishing and kissing noises trying to attract them. The spider webs were much easier to find. A few warblers were curious, but landed in a tree directly above my head, as warblers do, giving me a stiff neck and effectively keeping their identities a secret. How are you supposed to tell what bird it is when all you see is belly and the underside of a tail? The predators were much more cooperative though. A Cooper’s Hawk swooped over my head and landed in a tree along the river. Both Ospreys were in the air at the same time, and a Peregrine Falcon flew by several times. An Osprey landed on a branch so the visitors could see it through the scope, a first for many. Another volunteer said he saw a Red Shouldered Hawk, and I had already seen a Red Tailed Hawk. Towards the end of the day we even saw an American Kestral. The American Pelican from two weeks ago didn’t show up, but it was a great birding day for raptors. I started calling it a hat trick – Osprey, Peregrine and Cooper’s – but don’t know what you could call a day with SIX different raptor species on the list other than OUTSTANDING!