Friday, November 11, 2005

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary: "Golden Eagle Day!"

Yvonne came up for the Veteran’s Day holiday and we spent it raptor watching at Hawk Mountain in Kempton. We had made these plans months ago when we were last in Cape May after asking Pete Dunne where we had the best chances of seeing a Golden Eagle. Sure enough, as we approached the turnstile, the hourly report came through the walkie-talkie. Two Golden Eagles had been seen in the last two hours. That’s as many as the total for the entire day yesterday. Trying not to be too disheartening we trudged up the trail to the North Lookout. If you’ve ever been there, it’s not the easiest path, but the view is definitely worth the trek.

We barely got seated when three adult Golden Eagles passed by in quick succession. They we close enough to be seen with the naked eye and were an easy ID with our binoculars. Yvonne and I both got our “lifers” for the day!

As we warmed the rocks for the next two hours, we saw many, many Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, a Sharp-shinned Hawk or two, 3 Bald Eagles, six Common Ravens (which, btw, are not all that common ‘round here), and 3 more Golden Eagles. According to HMS’s Website, today was the highest one-day Golden Eagle total all fall. Thanks Pete!

Among us were a bunch of kids of various ages who were crawling around the rocks. It’s nice to see kids interested in being outside and watching something other than TV. They reminded me of the little ground squirrels that live at the Grand Canyon and come up to everyone pestering for food by staring at them with big brown eyes and twitching their noses.

Before we left, we headed to the Visitor’s Center so warm up, pee, and watch the bird feeders. The feeders were keeping Slate-colored Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, a Carolina Wren and several chipmunks busy. All in all a very nice day. Tomorrow we are headed north.

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