[va-bird] Nighthawks, Manassas Battlefield

Greetings,
At about five-thirty this afternoon my wife Kathryn and I were driving north 
on Route 234 at the southern boundary of Manassas National Battlefiled Park 
(MNBP) when I noticed a couple Common Nighthawks over the Country Inn Suites.  
We took a quick right onto Battleview Parkway and headed east into the 
Battlefield.  We saw another group of nine Nighthawks, and off further in the 
distance 
could see twenty or so more.  We eventually made it to a horse trailer 
parking area in the extreme southeast corner of MNBP, and were delighted to 
find a 
couple hundred Nighthawks swirling around over the tree tops and just above the 
fields.  They seemed to be moving to the west as they foraged, but not 
purposefully.  The area was also teeming with migrating Green Darners (Anax 
junius), 
which many Nighthawks were eating.  This was the first time that I'd seen 
hundreds of Nighthawks at eye level or even below.  Laura and Alan Catterton 
joined us at about six PM, and by then the numbers had dwindled some, however 
we 
were noticing that the birds present were seemingly still heading west.  
There were several times that a 360 degree scan of the horizon and fields 
would permit counts of up to a hundred Nighthawks.  Then at around six-fifteen 
the birds did a complete 180 and were heading east in earnest.  I did a few 
scans, tallying 60-80 birds at a whack.  It's hard to put a count on the amount 
of 
Nighthawks seen tonight, but my guess is a minimum of 500.  

At about seven PM we left, Laura and Alan headed to a couple different areas 
at MNBP to see if any were about, and my wife and I went to the stables.  We 
found no more birds, but have no idea how The Cattertons fared.  Just south of 
I-66 on 234 were a few more Nighthawks overhead as we headed into Manassas.  

Quite a spectacular event.  I've enjoyed the Nighthawk show at Tyson's Corner 
many times, but this was a bit more fulfilling having them just over our 
heads.  It was easy to see plumage details with the unaided eye on scores of 
birds.  

Cheers,

Todd Day
Jeffersonton, VA
BlkVulture@xxxxxxx


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