Observation start time: 07:45:00 Observation end time: 15:45:00 Total observation time: 8 hours
Official Counter: Brenda Tekin
Observers: Rose Thomas
Visitors: John ad Lila Porterfield, Mark Kosiewski of Chapel Hill, NC; Pat Doughterty and Alex Struminger, Susi Meddis
Weather: Arrived by 7:45 EST and it was already warming up. No clouds, not even one wisp or contrail. Nothing but bright blue sky and thick haze and low ground fog to the east and west. Nice WNW wind so if there were any birds, they would be flying! Humidity was up there at 96% that gradually diminished throughout the day to 44% with increasing cloud cover. Zero clouds for first 5 hours, then 5%, 10% and to at least 50% at top of the 3 o'clock hour (EST) with increasing Dark threatening clouds.
Thunderstorms moving through by 5 pm EST.
Raptor Observations: Wowie Wow!!!! What a day!! Well worth the probable permanent crooked neck, sore shoulders and fried eyeballs!!! A HUGE THANK YOU to Rose Thomas for helping out today! We witnessed an early morning gradual liftoff as the sun burned off the moisture and humidity levels began to drop. Small groups lifting up out of trees, coming across low and then they began to gain altitude as the day moved on. We're talking high up, oftentimes up in bright blue but by golly we found them. May have missed some but we also found good numbers, including quite a few kettles ranging from 5-10 birds up to several with close to 50! Bulk of the the birds were between 8:30 - 11 EST, 99 between 12-1 EST and then dropping off. Thankfully with increasing clouds we were able to find small kettles and streaming birds later in the day.
Things slowed down by 2:15 EST so Rose packed it up for the day. I was getting ready to head out at 2:30 so I was tallying the day's counts. Rose had just pulled out when I looked up and saw a group of 8 BW sailing across the sky against backdrop of clouds. a single BW flew in about 2 minutes later. I decided to stick around 15 more minutes. A few more birds flew in so I said to myself 15 more minutes. Just when I thought the coast was clear, I was recalculating totals, looked up and there was a kettle of broad-wings, maybe 2 1/2 to 3 glass fields above the ridge over Rockpile #2! I was able to photograph that group of 29! Within the next 15 minutes, 1 adult Peregrine at 3:05, a merlin that trailed behind a juvenile Bald Eagles, divebombing it at 3:10, two adult Bald Eagles flying close together at 3:20.
I was so pleased with myself for finding the high circling Peregrine but had no-one to share it with. Rose had been the Peregrine finder of the day, having spotted the other 4 earlier in the day.
An interesting side note. Our current Broad-wing total for the season stands at 25,932 which is the 4th highest season count over past 10 years. The third highest season Broad-wing count is 26,257 back in 2006, and only 325 more than our current season total. I'm sure there are more to be seen. Will it be enough to move up to 3rd place for past 10 years? Stay tuned.....
Non-raptor Observations: Too busy counting and searching the sky. There were Monarch Butterflies and Chimney Swift trickling through throughout the day. ======================================================================== Report submitted by Brenda Tekin (<brenda...>) Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch information may be found at: http://www.rockfishgaphawkwatch.org