Hawk Watch

We spent a day in September at the Mendota Fire Tower in southern Virginia watching the hawk migration with the folks from Hawk Watch.

The fire tower is worth a visit, even without the migration.  So go!

I am not sure what their requirements to pop in on migration counts are all over, but we just climbed to the tower and were welcomed by all to join in.

They were set up on top of an old concrete block structure below the tower.  They were happy to answer questions and share information while we watched the hawks.

Coming from an area where ducks, geese, and cranes migrate in by the thousands, I was expecting a sky darkened with wings.  But what really happens is that one or a handful of hawks will fly near enough to be spotted, get counted and then a break until another one or two are spotted.  They don’t all fly right over, most head to the east a bit.  Hawks don’t form groups, though a group is called a kettle.  If they are together, it’s because they caught the same thermal.  Much like people in an elevator together.

It was not a thrill a minute event by any stretch, but it was interesting and we learned a good bit about migrating birds of prey in general.  It’s always worthwhile to talk to an expert in an area and these guys were VERY into birds.  We saw mostly broad-shouldered hawk, but a few red tail and some Osprey and one that they thought was a peregrine which the man called a para-grine.  I have always said para-grin.

The climb is short and STEEP and I did complain about it and then felt extra wimpy when walking back down and passing an entire flock of retirees chatting and walking right up the darn hill sharing out butterscotch.  Maybe when I am 70 I will be able to climb hills stoically.  Maybe I need to get some butterscotch.

It’s not short enough to leave snacks and drinks in the car like I did.  Learn from my horrible mistake and at least tote some water. There is a trail that goes on past the tower, it ends at another view of the mountain where The Great Channels are located.  We headed there the next day!

The views were AMAZING
Watching for hawks
See the hawk? Migration!

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