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.