The Bristol Bird Club will have a trip on Sept 21 to Mendota Fire Tower to
watch Broad-wing Hawks migrate down the Clinch Mountain range on their way
to Central and South America for our winter months. Broad-wing Hawks might
be the main attraction, but there are many other Hawks, Falcons, Eagles,
Warblers, and other passerine species (such as Red-headed Woodpeckers,
Vireos, and Tanagers to name a few). I have even witnessed a few rare
Goshawks and a one very rare Swallow-tailed Kite pass by the tower in my
many years as a attendee to the annual hawk watch - so you never really
know what you might see. Everyone reading this email is invited!
We will meet at the Pinnacle Shopping Center (just off 1-81 in Bristol,
TN) in the parking lot for Dick's Sporting Goods at 8am. This is usually an
all day event (5pm+) so, anyone wishing to participate and not stay all day
at the tower should be prepared to drive so you can leave whenever you
might need to. Unless something changes on my end, I plan to stay all day.
We cannot drive all the way to the tower because the road to the top has
been washed out for years, so there will be a short but fairly strenuous
1/4 mile hike to get to the tower. There is no hurry once we start the
hike. You can go at whatever pace you are able to go. Some may go quicker
than others, but all that matters is getting there - so no pressure to go
at a certain pace. Once there, you unload your stuff (next paragraph) and
get oriented where the hawks will be flying. There will be lots of people
there to help anybody who hasn't been there before and there is always good
fellowship when the birds aren't cooperating.
You will need to bring the following:
Water - a must. Enough for as long as you are able to stay.
Lunch or snacks for the day (depending on how long you are able to stay)
There is nothing up at the top (except the tower) so bathrooms are
primitive style and bring whatever you might need.
Binoculars - birds are sometimes seen close to the tower at the first part
of the day (from 9-10) and the end of the day (5+) but most of the time
they are fairly to significantly high (depending on how quickly it warms up
and the thermals build) so you will need your binoculars.
Sunscreen - another must. Weather looks to be sunny and warm in the
afternoon, and you need to have plenty of sunscreen to apply throughout the
day. Trust me on this one - I've been the lobster walking down the mountain
before (and it doesn't take long!).
If you want to come - but you want to come later in the morning / day you
can put Mendota Fire Tower in Google Maps on your smart phone and follow
those directions to where you park near the top on the mountain. If you use
Apple Maps, you would need to just put in Mendota, VA and one you get to
Mendota - find Pinnacle Rd (gravel road) on the map and follow it up the
mountain until you see where the cars are parked. From there you walk up
the road that is not accessible by car. Pinnacle Road goes all the way over
the other side of the mountain, but you will see cars parked up near the
This weekend is the statistical peak for the Broad-wing Hawk flight.
Hopefully there will be good number of hawks flying over the tower but you
can never always predict how good the day will be. Weather as of this
writing looks to be sunny and 87 degrees. So don't forget water and your
sunscreen! It is possible to get stuff on the way if needed.
Hope to see you Saturday!