Observation start time: 08:00:00 Observation end time: 13:15:00 Total observation time: 1 hours
Official Counter: Brenda Tekin
Visitors: Buddy Lefflers, Floyd and Donna Caldwell, and Michael Williams and his furry companion, Cocoa.
Weather: Started out with 100% cloud cover but high ceiling and a few breaks in the clouds for some small rays of sunshine out over the valley to the west and the Virginia Piedmont to the east. A tad chilly 58 with steady NW winds that diminished with approaching cold front. Crystal clear as far as one could see which was eastern slopes of the Alleghenies. Toward late morning we actually had a break in the clouds to the north, with those greatly appreciated round white puffy clouds mixed with thing wisps in-between and bright blue sky. However, the cold front was advancing from the W to NW and dark threatening clouds moved in. We could see the rain showers over the Alleghenies moving across the Shenandoah Valley and first drops fell over Afton a few minutes past the 1pm hour (EST). Light steady rain soon was falling and count was shut down by 1:15. Within 4 minutes the temperature dropped from 58 to 47!
Raptor Observations: Relatively a slow day, with a few spurts. First bird was first spotted as a high sailing spec over the gap. A Northern Harrier at 8:22 EST heading due south following the ridge. Only falcon was a merlin that zipped in and zipped right o out. Two Bald Eagles, one a first year and the other unaged juvenile. The highlight was an adult Golden Eagle first located far out over the Shenandoah Valley circling below an impressive kettle of migrating Black Vultures. As the vultures streamed heading southward the Golden Eagle heading southward toward the western slope of the Blue Ridge. The bird was slow and with the few specs of sunlight shining down, viewing through spotting scope the details on the dorsal view of this bird were striking with the golden brown from head to back and upper tail coverts and thin dark terminal tail band. The wings appeared two-toned, with upper coverts the same almost golden brown and noteably darker primaries. It eventually reached the north side of the gap where it circled for decent closer views. Unfortunately, it headed low to the north and out of sight at about 12:23. About 40 minutes later while scanning the western valley an adult golden eagle was picked up sailing low SW. Those familiar with our landmarks it was lost as it continued behind the "Turtle's back." it is assumed this was the same adult observed earlier.
Non-raptor Observations: Impressive flights of migrating vultures today, both Black and Turkey, each flying separately in their groups, from 20-30 to upwards of 50-70 at a time, hundreds of them. They would form large kettles out over the western valley, then stream out all heading SW. At one point we had one "wall" of 50+ passing over the "plateau." Other observations included 14 Tree Swallow, 71 Blue Jay, 84 Pine Siskin, 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1 Pileated Woodpecker and 16 Monarch Butterfly
Predictions: lot more sunshine ======================================================================== Report submitted by Brenda Tekin (<brenda...>) Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch information may be found at: http://www.rockfishgaphawkwatch.org
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