Walktober 2021

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.

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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102 Responses to Walktober 2021

  1. Just absolutely gorgeous. A great walk, I say.

  2. cindy knoke says:

    That hawk capture is spectacular! I love all the captures, also the last.

  3. picpholio says:

    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.

  4. Anne says:

    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.

  5. Great picture of the hawk.

  6. Cathy says:

    Fantastic scenery and a great shot of the hawk. 😃

  7. Dee Min says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. Idyllic. Great pix too!!!!

  8. Karen Lang says:

    You live a beautiful life Eliza 🧡🌿

  9. Robin says:

    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). ❤

  10. pbmgarden says:

    What an interesting walk you’ve shared with us, Eliza. To see these birds gathered would be stirring.

  11. Gorgeous scenery, and I really like your choice of picnic spots. 🍁

  12. 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.

  13. Treah Pichette says:

    Thanks for taking us along on your walk. Wish I’d been there to see the birds & my old stomping grounds!

  14. A beautiful view and how lucky to get such a great shot of the hawk.

  15. maryjane678 says:

    Great pics Eliza. Glad you got away from it all.

  16. Alice says:

    ‘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.

  17. John says:

    Lovely views, beautiful birds!

  18. That’s an amazing ‘bird’s eye’ view!! Well done. 🦅

  19. Kris P says:

    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.

  20. 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!🙂

  21. You captured some beautiful shots, Eliza! The place looks wonderful!

  22. Beautiful shots, and congratulations on the Broad-winged Hawk!!

  23. 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.

  24. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a lovely October day. Spectacular picture of the hawk, with the sun lighting its feathers!

  25. 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.

  26. Tranature - quiet moments in nature says:

    What a glorious place for walking Eliza and such a beautiful capture of the hawk! 🧡 xxx

  27. Vinny says:

    What a great blog. It looks amazing!

  28. 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.

  29. shoreacres says:

    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.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      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!

  30. Glad you enjoyed the day, Eliza. And what splendid photos you captured!

  31. Dale says:

    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.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      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.

      • Dale says:

        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…

  32. naturebackin says:

    What a lovely place for walking out. These days getting out is even more special as its not something to take for granted.

  33. Maria says:

    Such amazing views! I really enjoyed this post Eliza. Thank you!

  34. 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.

  35. Debbie says:

    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!

  36. Isha says:

    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! ❤️🙌

  37. neihtn2012 says:

    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. 😜

  38. Looks like you chose a great place for your Walktober! Nice shots!!!

  39. restlessjo says:

    Sounds like a nice way to spend a day, Eliza.

  40. Jane Lurie says:

    Wow, stunning vistas, Eliza. And you had some great sightings!

  41. Laura Denise says:

    Thanks for sharing! What a hawk shot! 😍

  42. Brenda says:

    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.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      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!

  43. Sallyann says:

    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. 😊 😊

  44. dawnkinster says:

    Wow, that’s an interesting rock, and the whole place looks wonderful, especially for someone that loves birds (like me!).

    • Eliza Waters says:

      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. 🙂

  45. Dalo 2013 says:

    “… 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 🙂

  46. Beaut. images Eliza. And the one under head of the eagle is eye and spirit opening any day. Thanks.

    Nara x

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