Buffalo Mountain Hawk Watch held September 18

A steady crowd of bird watchers of all ages hiked up Buffalo Mountain on Sunday, September 18 to participate in Hawk Watch 2016.
The event, cosponsored by Blue Ridge Heritage and the Department of Conservation and Recreation, included a trained biologist working for the Natural Heritage Program, who was on site to help participants spot, identify, and count migrating species. Approximately 50 people throughout the day participated in the free event.
The hawk count for the day included three osprey, seven sharp-shinned hawks, three red shouldered hawks, 250 broadwinged hawks, one Cooper’s hawk and one bald eagle.
The event might have been best titled a Warbler Watch, as there were many varieties of warblers seen, including palm warbler, Cape May warbler, and black-throated warbler. Other species spotted were turkey and black vultures, juncos, tanagers, hummingbirds, chimney swifts, tree swallows, red-breasted nuthatches, and many more.
Wide varieties of butterflies and dragonflies were also viewed by participants.
The migratory raptors were few and far between. Naturalists guessed that it was still a few days early in the migration season for the spectacular kettles of broadwinged hawks to be seen.
Last year, the event participants counted in excess of 2,000 broadwings that used the heat rising from Buffalo Mountain and surrounding areas to rise in the sky, circling in massive kettles of hundreds of birds in their effort to reach altitudes to carry them south for the winter.
Next year, organizers are going to wait for later in September to set up their tripods, spotting scopes, and binoculars to try for better numbers of species on migration for the fall. Mark your calendars now for next year’s Hawk Watch event atop Buffalo Mountain, most probably the weekend of September. 23-24, 2017. Watch for details on the Blue Ridge Heritage Facebook page.hawkwatch-crowd


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