This has not been a good year for my seeing raptors up at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch. The standing joke up there for years has been that all the good raptors fly through, and often low and close, when I am not there, and it's quiet when I am there. September 20 was a good day at the hawk watch. I did see and photograph a few of them, but with my poor eyesight and my camera's limited field of view as well as limited depth of field, I have to be spot on target and in focus to catch at least a few migrating raptors. There were 2615 raptors counted on September 20, including 2553 Broad-winged Hawks. This is the usual peak week for this species.
The weather on September 21 was ideal for hawk watching, and I was hoping for it to be the "big" day for the year. I started off looking for warblers along Route 610, with plans to get to the hawk watch by 10:30. Route 610 was really quiet. I didn't see a single warbler, but did find a distant Red-tailed Hawk.
I drove south a bit on the parkway, turned around, and as soon as I got back onto Route 610 near mm. 4 of the parkway, it sounded like there was a good sized rock in my left front tire. I drove a little and stopped to look a few times, and on the fourth stop saw what was making the noise. There was a screw stuck in the tire tread. Now I had a dilemma. Between mm. 2 and mm. 4 of the parkway, Route 610 is a single lane, pothole-filled road. If I pulled out the screw and it had punctured all the way through, I would be stuck there with a flat tire. I decided it was prudent to drive with the screw in my tire, and hoped to make it to a repair shop without the tire going flat. By late afternoon, my tire was repaired. Oh yes, there were 8559 migrating hawks counted at the hawk watch, including 8497 Broad-winged Hawks, and I didn't see a single one of them. I told the counters at the hawk watch the next day that thank yous and gifts would be accepted for my not being there :-)September 22
Well, I didn't expect a day at the hawk watch like the day I missed, but perhaps there might be a few thousand behind the main push. So I went to the hawk watch first, but there were only a few raptors and other species.
I stayed there for a couple of hours, and decided to look for warblers on Route 610 and the parkway, and then return to the hawk watch. I saw a couple of Cape May Warblers, two single (miles apart) Tennessee Warblers, a Bay-breasted Warbler, and a Black-throated Blue Warbler; and then a small flock of six to eight Tennessee Warblers. There were lots of Carolina Chickadees.
Cape May Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
I got back to the hawk watch around 1:00 p.m., and saw a few Broad-winged Hawks. There was one good sized kettle, but I couldn't see it with my naked eyes, nor could find it with my camera.
I wanted to be home by 3:30, so at 2:50 I started packing up gear, and told the counters that there would be a lot of Broad-winged Hawks starting at 3:10. The hawks wanted to wait for a few minutes to make sure I had left the area :-)
Later that night I checked the hawk watch totals. The following was posted:
The count during the 2-3pm hour dropped to only 3 raptors, so many folks left at 3pm. However, the six of us that remained were treated with 1,553 Broad-wings coming over in waves of 7 different kettles containing 187, 341, 241, 230, 270, 180, and 104 birds! It was a fun hour [3 to 4 pm]!
More gifts, please.