I’m joining Robin at Breezes at Dawn for her annual Walktober challenge. Click the link to learn more and join in if you wish, all are welcome.
For this year’s Walktober, I decided to visit Skinner State Park in Hadley, Massachusetts, a popular spot for birders to observe the fall (or spring) hawk migration. Located on top of Mt. Holyoke, a basalt rock formation that rises up from the Connecticut River valley, it has been popular since the 1700’s for its spectacular views. Also popular with migrating birds, for when the sun warms the morning air, there is a great upwelling of thermals that allows numerous soaring birds and raptors to float along to conserve energy as they make their way south.
I was thrilled to see a broad-winged hawk hovering in place on the wind mere feet above me when I reached the viewing veranda. I had watched a very informative 16-minute video of a talk given by Dave King from the Kestrel Land Trust and learned quite a bit, including how to identify the three major groups of raptors that one is apt to see, and also the best weather for viewing the greatest numbers. I noted on E-bird that on Sept. 20 one birder reported 240 broad-winged hawks in just two hours!
While I didn’t see anything close to those numbers, I saw falcons, hawks, Canada Geese, Turkey Vultures and numerous migrating songbirds. The views were amazing, the day was beautiful and we enjoyed a picnic lunch overlooking the valley. It was wonderful to get away from it all, forgetting the current event worries for a few hours to enjoy the lovely autumn weather.
Just absolutely gorgeous. A great walk, I say.
Thank you, Gary. I hadn’t been there in decades and am wondering what took me so long?? 😉
Yes, isn’t that often the case? So much to see and experience. And with that enlightening, off I go to clean up the shop…so it can get dirty again.
That hawk capture is spectacular! I love all the captures, also the last.
Thank you, Cindy. A bit of our little corner of paradise! 🙂
What a great place for bird spotting. Your day was very succesful.
Thanks for the beautiful panoramas and I love the picture of the broad-winged hawk.
Thank you very much!
I have enjoyed seeing the scenery and am in awe of your photograph of the broad-winged hawk. This sounds like a good day out in many respects.
Thank you, Anne. It was a winner of a day, one to treasure.
Great picture of the hawk.
Fantastic scenery and a great shot of the hawk. 😃
Thank you, Cathy. I loved every minute of it!
Absolutely gorgeous. Idyllic. Great pix too!!!!
Many thanks, Dee!
A pleasure 😊
You live a beautiful life Eliza 🧡🌿
Ah, what a gift your words are, Karen. Thanks much!
Wow!! And wow! Amazing views, and awesome capture of the broad-winged hawk with his/her feathers outstretched in flight. Thank you so much for joining in, Eliza. I always look forward to your walks (and watching your garden grow). ❤
Thank you, Robin. 🙂 Yay for Walktober!
What an interesting walk you’ve shared with us, Eliza. To see these birds gathered would be stirring.
Thank you, Susie. It was truly a thrill to see them so ‘up close and personal.’ 🙂
Gorgeous scenery, and I really like your choice of picnic spots. 🍁
Thank you, Judy. Definitely an experience we will repeat!
Oh, gosh! Breath-taking views, and what a magnificent picture of the hawk. You were certainly in the right place at the right time. And that last sentence really sums things up.
Thank you, Laurie. Like your recent forays, I’m amazed it has taken me so long to revisit this wonderful park!
What a beauty of a place!
Thanks for taking us along on your walk. Wish I’d been there to see the birds & my old stomping grounds!
My pleasure. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. I can’t believe I hadn’t been there since the 70s… wow, huh?
A beautiful view and how lucky to get such a great shot of the hawk.
Thank you, I was thrilled with seeing them so close. We’ll definitely make it an annual thing.
Great pics Eliza. Glad you got away from it all.
Thank you, MJ. It was a beautiful day in many ways.
‘raptors that one is apt to see.’ (I love word happenings like that). What a beautiful place to be and enjoy! I read about the geology…so interesting what happened millions of years ago.
Thank you, Alice. I love learning about the geology of an area. Always an epic story to stimulate the imagination. 🙂
Lovely views, beautiful birds!
Thank you, John!
That’s an amazing ‘bird’s eye’ view!! Well done. 🦅
Thank you, Monika!
I’m impressed by your pre-walk research, Eliza and your photo of the hawk is great. I can’t get my head around the idea of 240 hawk sightings in a span of 2 hours – I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than 2 at the same time here.
Thanks, Kris. I was stunned by that report (and it was a group of 10 birders, so it was confirmed), it must have been THE day for birds on the move.
What a beautiful day and park!🙂 How wonderful to see the various birds along the great walk and capture the fabulous hawk and picnic photos!🙂
Thanks, S! It was one of the best days we’ve had in too long a while. 🙂
You captured some beautiful shots, Eliza! The place looks wonderful!
Thank you very much, Belinda! It was a great day.
Beautiful shots, and congratulations on the Broad-winged Hawk!!
Thank you, Donna, much appreciated as you are the expert here. Glad I got the ID right! 🙂
The entire Holyoke Range is wonderful (I’ve never walked its entirety, but the highlight is definitely the view from Skinner. I am a big fan of The Hudson River School, I think we’ve discussed that, and one of my favorites is Cole’s “View from Mount Holyoke” which was a bit stormier than your visit. 🙂
Nice catch of the Broad-winged Hawk!
Kestrel recently purchased a property near me (Atkins Country Market as well) and have their headquarters there. It has a nice trail around a pond and is worth a visit.
Thanks, Steve, and for the KT trail tip, good to know. We definitely want to do more outings like this one.
Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a lovely October day. Spectacular picture of the hawk, with the sun lighting its feathers!
Thank you, Barbara! It was a memorable day. 🙂
What a wonderful walk and I guess October is a good month for walking before the cold truly sets in. That is a beautiful photo of the hawk.
Thank you very much!
What a glorious place for walking Eliza and such a beautiful capture of the hawk! 🧡 xxx
Thank you kindly, Xenia!
What a great blog. It looks amazing!
Thank you, Vinny!
Beautiful views and images, Eliza. I was surprised to find hawks, etc. migrate when I moved to Florida. They were year round in Georgia.. Looking forward to see your raptor friends soon.
Thank you, Amy. Migration is a big part of fall here (and spring as well). I hate to see them go and am always happy to see them return.
Love to see the hawks here..
What a beautiful spot, Eliza. We have a program called Hawkwatch that keeps track of the raptors that migrate through both spring and fall — and our National Weather Service people do a good job of using their radar to keep track of them. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to watch the large colonies of roosting birds wake and take off in the mornings — just as we can watch bats emerging from caves and migrating dragonflies.
Of course, as interesting as the radar is, I much prefer the kinds of views you offer here. I’m glad you had such a satisfying day, and brought us such wonderful photos.
Thank you, Linda. Tech has enabled present time views and ways to study like never before. I love that there is more awareness and cooperation in protecting migrating birds, like the Lights Out project in cities and shutting down the Twin Tower lights in NYC when large numbers of birds become confused by the light. Progress!
Glad you enjoyed the day, Eliza. And what splendid photos you captured!
Thank you, Cynthia, it was one of the nicest outings I’ve had in a long time. 🙂
That hawk shot is outstanding, Eliza! I am so very jealous, tell you what. I never see anything close to that (and no, turkey vultures just don’t cut it 😉 ) Everything is still so green! Lovely walk, Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Dale! The fall color only really began to show this week. It has been so warm, it feels unnatural and no frost yet in the forecast… while I love the weather, it is also a bit worrisome. But I’ll take it while it lasts.
Ours started slowly last week and today was almost 70. It’s nuts but yeah, I’ll also take it knowing it’s not necessarily a good thing…
What a lovely place for walking out. These days getting out is even more special as its not something to take for granted.
So true, I think the fact that we haven’t left home in 18 mos. except for necessities made it all the more appreciated. And going on a weekday, there weren’t that many people to step around.
Sounds good all round. It is surprising though how being reclusive can become such a habit.
It may actually be good for us, less stress, to be sure.
Such amazing views! I really enjoyed this post Eliza. Thank you!
Thank you, Maria!
Walktober: what a good word, and good on your for living up to the spirit of it.
Hadley was the name of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife.
What a lovely spot for your Walktober, Eliza … and how interesting the species you found! We see hawks here every now and then, and I must confess I’m a bit intimidated by them — especially when my puppy is around!
Thank you, Debbie. Most hawks only take on smaller prey like squirrels and unfortunately, birds. I doubt they’d worry Monkey. Even an eagle wouldn’t attempt a Sheltie, but a Chihuahua, maybe!
Nice to hear — he’d be a chunk to lift up anyway!
This is so beautiful, so refreshing to read. Your pictures took me there, Eliza! Such an experience. I can only imagine how glorious it must’ve been for you.
Also, the picture of the hawk! My, oh, my! ❤️🙌
Thank you very much, Isha. I really enjoyed this outing after so many months of staying away from public places due to you-know-what. 🙂
From your photos, that looks like a wonderful place!
I was at one of those hawk migration watch in New Jersey four years ago. People kept pointing to the sky to count the hawks, but I could not see any. Their count for the day was in the 1,500. All I saw was one Osprey. 😜
It was a nice outing. Some of these mountain spots see great numbers during peak. I’m happy with whatever I do see!
Looks like you chose a great place for your Walktober! Nice shots!!!
Thanks much, Denise. I loved this outing so much!
Sounds like a nice way to spend a day, Eliza.
It truly was, thanks, Jo!
Wow, stunning vistas, Eliza. And you had some great sightings!
Thank you, Jane. One of the best outings I’ve had since lockdown. I really need to get out more, ha!
Thanks for sharing! What a hawk shot! 😍
Thank you, LD!
I loved this! My mother was an avid birder and loved to get up to Mt. Holyoke or Mt. Tom for the migration. Hiking on this range is such fun because it rises so abruptly from the flat Connecticut River Valley all around. I lived for a year in a farmhouse in Easthampton and we used to climb up the talus fields on the backside of Mt. Tom to reach the trails.
I didn’t know you had lived locally! So you know this lovely valley quite well, I’d say. Skinner is such a great park with dramatic geology and topography. I’m glad that there is a road up there, even if it is only open during the warmer months. Thanks for your visit!
Just popping over from Robin’s. 😊 😊
I guess it’s difficult to choose between the views looking down, or up… I’m glad you enjoyed both. 😊 😊
Thank you, Sallyann, both were rewarding!
Wow, that’s an interesting rock, and the whole place looks wonderful, especially for someone that loves birds (like me!).
Thanks, Dawn. Basalt isn’t common around here (mostly shale and granite), so I loved seeing those rock formations… and the birds of course were the reason for the visit. 🙂
“… wonderful to get away from it all, forgetting the current event worries for a few hours to enjoy the lovely autumn weather.” Always the perfect remedy 🙂
Nature is such a healer for me. 🙂
Beaut. images Eliza. And the one under head of the eagle is eye and spirit opening any day. Thanks.
Thank you, Nara!