[Bristol-Birds] Mendota Hawkcount heading into 56th season

  • From: "BBC Net" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "'Bristol Bird Club'" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:45:16 -0400



Mendota Hawk Watching bloack and white photo.jpg


The fall hawk migration season is underway and birds are flying south.  

Hawk watcher are up on lookouts manning towers all along the ridges 

of the Appalachian Mountains.  Nearly 20 sites are now active.  


In Virginia, Rockfish Gap at Waynesboro opened its 39th season on 

August 15 and will run thru November.  At Roanoke, Harvey's Knob

opened August 13th.  Further south, the Soddy Daisy site near 

Chattanooga opens for its 21st  season about September 10.


The Mendota Hawk Count season runs from August 30 thru the 

first week of October. The first count at Mendota last fall was 

September 3.  The last 2013 count was on October 6.


Not only are hawks identified and counted each day but we 

participate in the Hawk Migration Association of North American

count and data season by recording and reporting weather 

conditions as well as hawk totals online for each day.  Tom Hunter, 

who coordinated the Mendota Hawk Watch each fall for BBC,

purchased a portable Kestrel 4500 pocket weather station which 

is used to collect weather data with extreme accuracy as part of 

the monitoring of hawks.  The Bristol Bird Club purchased the 

equipment which cost $443 and owns the system. 


You can see and surf the Mendota records from last year at:

55dcf30171c5ba85> &PHPSESSID=b2eb5deb1ae5a23e55dcf30171c5ba85


We have also sponsored our website page with an annual donation 

to the hawk migration association.  This is all an important part of 

the outreach program BBC maintains.  It also contributes valuable

data to the conservation and management of the North American 

hawk and eagle populations.


Birders and other curious nature observers have gathered atop 

Clinch Mountain above Mendota to watch the annual spectacle 

for 62 years. The count has been conducted for 56 years.  


In the fall of 2002, the Bristol Bird Club assumed responsibility for

promoting and coordinating coverage and record keeping for the 

Mendota Hawk Watch and has done so for a dozen years.  Bob Quillen, 

a deceased member of the club, has the longest tenure at the Mendota 

Hawk Count.   He participated regularly for 44 years -- 1961 to 2005. 

The discovery of Clinch Mountain as a hawk migration flyway occurred 

September 23, 1950.   Stephen M. Russell, a Bristol Bird Club member 

and high school student from Abingdon,  discovered a sensational 

flight of 627 Broad-winged Hawks at Hayter Knob Fire Tower in 

Washington County, VA. 

Fred W. Behrend of Elizabethton was the first to reach Mendota Fire 

Tower and count hawks on September 20, 1952. 

Thomas Finucane arrived at Mendota Fire Tower September 15, 1957 

and began regular coverage the following year.  He counted hawks there

every fall for more than a quarter of a century 

Regular coverage at Mendota has continued since 1958.  Among those 

with long tenures coordinating and compiling counts and records have been 

Thomas W. Finucane of Kingsport,  Holmes Roylston of Bristol, Eugene E.

of Nickelsville, and Violet and George Larkin of Kingsport,  Ron Harrington,

of Bristol (2001 to 2008) and  Tom Hunter of Lebanon (2009 to 2013).


The Mendota fall count depends on the weather and number of volunteers 

who make a commitment to help.  In order to be successful, volunteers

to commit a day or more of time to this effort help a lot.  September 21 is

statistical peak flight date, but will vary depending on weather. 


Bring water, lunch, snacks, sun lotion, binocs, rain gear as appropriate. 

Access to this site requires a moderately strenuos 25 minute hike on the old

fire tower access road.  There are no restrooms.


Members of the Bristol Bird Club will have a club program Tuesday evening 

(19 August 2014) at the Bristol Public Library located about one block off 

Piedmont Ave,  a block off State Street or a block off Commonwealth Ave. 

in the heart of downtown Bristol Virginia.


The 7:30 p.m. meeting is in the Kegley Meeting Room.  Bill Grigsby and 

Ron Harrington will present a program: "Identification of Hawks for 

Hawk Migration."  These are knowledgeable hawk watchers and will be able to

share trusted, focused and well-informed details about plans for this fall's

hawk migration season and counts as well as how the Mendota season is

organized and conducted. 


Plan now to participate.  Come up at least once and "catch the fever." 

The hawk watch is located at the old Mendota Fire Tower, atop Clinch

about 3 miles north of Mendota, VA on the Washington-Russell line. Take 

Pinnacle Road to the top of the mountain, walk up the old tower road. If you

need more detailed directions, let us know. 


Clinch Mountain is a 150-mile-long ridge that runs from near Burke's 

Garden in Tazewell County, Virginia to Blaine, Tennessee. It runs 

generally Northeast to Southwest and divides the Clinch River drainage 

to the north and the Holston River drainage to the south.  The site is on 

the Russell and Washington County lines and is at an elevation of 3018 feet.

As is usual with a fire tower location, there is a 360 degree view with 

Moccasin Valley and Pine Mountain to the North and Mendota and the

North Fork Holston River to the south. 


Let's go birding . . .


Wallace Coffey

Bristol, TN



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