Observation start time: 08:00:00 Observation end time: 16:30:00 Total observation time: 8.5 hours
Official Counter: Brenda Tekin
Observers: Dave Hunter, Mark Johnson, Vic Laubach
Visitors: Several folks joined us and were rewarded with good looks at kettling and streaming birds.
A special Thank You to visitor Ginger Hays of Arlington, VA who was on board all day and help with spotting birds during the early morning liftoff.
David Deal arrived late in the day as we were closing shop (4 pm). Luckily he was rewarded with several late in the day streams of Broad-wings flew in low and close, most flapping to get across the gap to push further down the ridge between 4:10-4:28 EST.
Other visitors: Mark Johnson (Thanks for spotting those birds!), Jim Masan, Debbie Wood, Robert Butler, Marlene Condon, Walt Childs, Marshall Faintach, and a few others.
Weather: Dense fog at top of ridge extending out over Shenandoah Valley to west. Sun shining with clear skies to the east. Fog was slowly lifting at lower elevation by 8 am. Winds increased by 8:30 and quickly moved it up and out. Clearing skies with great clouds most of the day providing background that aided in locating the many birds. Very brisk WSW to W winds early from 8:30 - 11 EDST and then gradually diminishing to around 5 mph by 2 pm.
Raptor Observations: With dense fog extending out over the valley coverage was delayed until 8 am at the alternate site. Once the fog began to lift over the valley broad-wings were quickly lifting up from along the South River in Waynesboro. Some kettled but most streamed out low. As the fog quickly began to lift with the increasing winds the broad wings were moving closer to the ridge. Counter quickly headed up to the top of the gap, stopping along the way half way to top to count streaming broadwings. A few minutes later the count resumed at the top with nonstop streaming and kettling birds. Ginger Hays visiting from Arlington, VA was on hand and very helpful in spotting birds. Over 1,200 were counted during the first 2 hours. Things slowed down a bit during 12-2 but oh, we had some good birds, including another Mississippi Kite, a juvenile at 1:56 and 3 Sandhill Cranes that flew in and circled close for lots of oohs and ahs. Very photogenic!
Not to be outdone, eagles and falcons with a respectable number of accipiters and osprey kept folks busy and entertained.
Bald Eagles included 6 adults(12:17,12:56; 1:32; 2@2:36, 2:50), 2 1st year (2:49; 12:29), 2nd yr (12:30), 4th year and 1 usage (2:36 that flew in with the 2 adults)
At 2:36 we had not one but 5 eagles to come in together that included the 3 Bald Eagles and one definitive adult Golden Eagle. Counter Tekin located a 5th distant dark eagle that looked promising for a 2nd Golden but it was lost in the distant dark cloud and went down as unidentified eagle. A second Golden, another adult was observed earlier at 12:55.
First bird: lots of Broad-wings. Last bird: Red-shouldered Hawk, a lovely adult low across the gap at 4:27 EST and was species #13 for the day!
Non-raptor Observations: Too busy to keep tally of non-raptor flybys except for one adult male Black-throated Blue Warbler, two Red-headed Woodpeckers, and a yearling Black Bear crossing over the Skyline Drive.
A good number of Blue Jays seen whipping across the sky and a smattering of Monarch Butterflies.
Predictions: Hopefully more like today without the morning fog! ======================================================================== Report submitted by Brenda Tekin (<brenda...>) Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch information may be found at: http://www.rockfishgaphawkwatch.org