Observation start time: 08:00:00 Observation end time: 11:00:00 Total observation time: 3 hours
Official Counter: Brenda Tekin
Visitors: Greg Moyer arrived just before noon as counter was leaving to head home.
Weather: Upon arrival, a brisk WNW wind blowing, bright blue sky, a few "faded" wisps, and already warm at 77 degrees and still climbing. By top of second hour wind was more SW and diminishing. Much better visibility with light haze on the far horizons.
Raptor Observations: Was hopeful and halfway expecting a decent morning flight, given the brisk WNW winds but maybe it was just too warm. Not sure if it was record breaking but it was close enough. Reached 94 degrees by mid-afternoon down at my place not far as a Raven flies from Rockfish Gap!
Only 11 birds in 3 hours. Would have stayed longer but was feeling under the weather and it had become too miserable to remain.
Non-raptor Observations: Blue Jays took to the air early morning (121) with a few Norther Flickers (12) and a couple of small groups of Tree Swallows (17). Monarch Butterflies were well represented with 63 counted.
The HUGE surprise was an immature Lark Sparrow that flew in at 8:22 am EST! First saw a bird fly up into top the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus) next to skating rink. It was mostly visible on outer upper branch and I could see that it was a largish sparrow-like bird. Bright morning light made it difficult to see much detail but when the bird faced looking northward I could see the facial markings that also included a somewhat wide whitish eye stripe above left eye. Facial pattern was faded-like but dead ringer for Lark Sparrow. It flew down to grassy area below, briefly foraging along edge of thick vegetation, and grabbed up something. I was by now standing on edge at top of the knoll looking down and had decent views of the dorsal. Briefly saw what looked like a bit of white on outer tip of long tail. It the flew up and came up the knoll to right where I was standing, facing into the wind so it fluttered a bit at that point, me looking at it in full profile as it faced into the wind (westward). I could then confirm the bit of streaking on upper underside. WOW! This may be the first documented record for a Lark Sparrow for the hawk watch.
Predictions: Cooler! ======================================================================== Report submitted by Brenda Tekin (<brenda...>) Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch information may be found at: http://www.rockfishgaphawkwatch.org