Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Adventure: Raptors

It was Saturday.  It was sunny.  It was windy.  It was a perfect day to go Hawk Watching at Harvey's Knob, an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway!!!  My spur of the moment decision was made.  As I gathered my water bottles,  cocoa covered almonds, an apple and two yogurts, along with my GPS (in case I got lost), a wind breaker and my binoculars, I then closed the door behind me telling my dogs I'd be back.  Little did I know that the door I was about to open was to a whole new world of adventure!

I was only about 3 miles from the house, when I decided to call one of the contacts given to me as a "Harvey's Knob stalwart" aka "Hawk-watcher".  Introducing myself on the phone, I simply asked basic directions.  Bill was very receptive, telling me who of the "hawk-watchers" would be there "counting the birds" and to look for him to fill me in and give me some help.

I found what is known as Harvey's Knob with no problem.  The elevation there is 2,571 feet and so the views are both breathtaking and awe inspiring.  Looking northwest, there is Purgatory Mountain, Eagle Rock and House Mountain to name a few.  Across the Parkway, facing the east, are more spectacular views which overlook Goose Creek Valley.  Then you spot them...you see "the birds" floating on thermals...soaring effortlessly as you look through your binoculars...appearing to be so close that you want to reach out and touch them.  But you can't.  You'll go over the edge!!  The Eastern side of the ridge was bright, sunny and had minimal wind.  I crossed back over to where I had parked.

Shortly after I had arrived, a car pulled in and I watched gentleman got out of his car, put his jacket on and place a pair of binoculars around his neck.  Then as he set up a huge tripod, I approached him, asking if his name was Baron.  During my call to Bill, he had told me that Baron would be up at the Knob as it was his watch.  He suggested that I move my car right near his so I was at the right angle to see the birds come in.  It was VERY windy on the western side.  So windy, in fact, that while I was following a bird, the wind would become more fierce and literally make me loose my footing.

Today I saw Bald Eagles (mature & immature), a Golden Eagle, a few Osprey, lots of Turkey Vultures and  Black Vultures, several Red Tail Hawks, a Red shoulder hawk, an American Kestrel (a Falcon) and several Sharp shinned hawks and one Cooper's hawk.  It was absolutely AWESOME...) and an experience I will never forget! 

I tried to absorb as much information as I could as other "hawk-watchers" arrived.  They all shared stories and gave me more hints on how to identify "the birds."   I know I'll return for more.  However, before I end this story, I do have share a few more bits of information with you.

  On September 19, 2010, the "hawk-watchers" on Harvey's Knob counted 7,313 broad-winged hawks, two bald eagles, one peregrine falcon, four ospreys and other species.  They totaled an astounding 7,344 in one day!  The boys were telling me that at one time there were over 700 birds that lifted out of the trees along the slopes of the Ridge.  That, my friends is the fall migration for the broad-wings traveling south.

5 comments:

varunner said...

That sounds fantastic!

Joycee said...

Cool! We have 4 pair of Bald Eagles that call our lake home year round, pretty far south here in Arkansas for eagles to take up residence!

Canyon Girl said...

What an adventure and so wonderfully described. Turkey buzzards come through the pass here by the 10s of thousands in October, but so far I haven't seen them. I see them at other times and also red-tailed hawks, kestrels, prarie falcons and others. I finished your tip toe story as well. Great fun! Sorry about the scar.

Tiggeriffic said...

I have my chocolate ready, my oatmeat raisen cookies and all my gear. I have a handheld gps and I'm ready to go on the next adventure with you to take a look at these marvelous birds.. One problem: you live too far from me. I love birds and that my friend is right up my alley in bird watching..thanks for taking me on your adventure. It sounded so cool~!
The pasta dish I made yesterday is all gone but it was so good. Have a great day~!

forestwalk/laura k said...

OH...i am SO jealous!! :]

...not that i don't see a few hawks and an occasional bald eagle and osprey...but here i am...in FLAT florida! oh, how i long to be at a higher elevation! and to see all those awesome birds...in ONE day!!!! wow!!!! what an experience!! YEAH!

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