[va-bird] HSR: Snickers Gap (15 Oct 2003) Raptor counts (total=89)

  • From: reports@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: 15 Oct 2003 08:10:39 -0400

Snickers Gap Hawkwatch
20 Miles West of Leesburg, Virginia, USA
Daily Raptor Counts: Oct 15, 2003

Species            Day's Count    Month Total   Season Total
------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------
Black Vulture                0              0              0
Turkey Vulture               0              0              0
Osprey                       3             66            270
Bald Eagle                   5             29            109
Northern Harrier             2             67            126
Sharp-shinned Hawk          44            652           1184
Cooper's Hawk                8             99            172
Northern Goshawk             0              3              4
Red-shouldered Hawk          3             28             50
Broad-winged Hawk            0             75          11647
Red-tailed Hawk              6             63            167
Rough-legged Hawk            0              0              0
Golden Eagle                 0              0              3
American Kestrel             8             47            178
Merlin                       1              8             22
Peregrine Falcon             0             15             43
Unknown                      9             46             72

Total:                      89           1198          14047

Observation start time: 09:00:00 
Observation end   time: 16:30:00 
Total observation time: 7.5 hours

Official Counter: Ian Topolsky

Observers:        BJ Westervelt, Lad Topolsky

  Joseph Gantt, now a bonafide junkie, stuck it out all day and 2 other
souls braved the winds for a bit. Sorry, I didn't catch your names...

  The "Round Tree" disappeared, birds flew backwards and it snowed leaves
all day. It was one of those days that I live for and adore. I got all
teary-eyed as soon as I pulled up.... with some help from the cyclones of
dust that eminated from the lot. Beautiful...
  Winds were just plain brutal. Rock-solid NWesterly all day at 5-7
Beaufort. The heaviest winds (7+, with higher gusts) were in the first 3
hours and last 1.5 hours of observation. Backed up all the way to the
treeline, we were startled numerous times by limbs snapping overhead. 
  Cloudcover ranged from 5-20%. Visibility was spectacular.
Temp topped off at 60F.

  First bird of the day was an adult Bald. It was not the majestic sight
one comes to expect from a bird that always seems to be in control of it's
  And while we are taunted for weeks on end by the local Red-taileds, who
come from out of nowhere and kite along the ridge at various points
throughout the day, it was them that stole the show. Right as the first
adult Bald clumsily crawled through, one of our adult RTs popped up from
"Dolly". It cruised a bit W down the ridge, rotated 90 Degrees over "May",
and kited in the EXACT spot for over 2 minutes (I never moved the scope
and timed it, 2 min 29 seconds). It remained for most of the day and made
small work of dealing with the wind, as did all the Red-taileds that
passed through.
  A sorry spectacle to behold were the Sharpies that found themselves on
the E side of the ridge and desiring to cross over to the W side. Most
succumbed halfway across and were whipped S like little, brown
handkerchiefs tossed into the wind. Those that succeeded took the same
pounding after they had crossed over.
  Bald Eagle breakdown: 3- 3rd yr, 2- adult. Our Merlin for the day
appeared NNE, low along the center of the ridge, and screamed through
right overhead, in complete control. No Ospreys packing a lunch.

  Not a lot of others to speak of. 7 Blue Jay, 8 Cedar Waxwing, 1
Red-headed Woodpecker, 23 Swallow sp. and 1 Monarch Butterfly.

  Can we expect more "big birds" tomorrow?

The great Smoking Head confidently replies, 
"ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES", and bids adieu...
Report submitted by Ian Topolsky (ict_earth@xxxxxxxxx)

     Snickers Gap Hawkwatch was established in 1990.  It is located in northern 
Virginia, on the Clarke and Loudoun County line.  It is reached by taking VA 
Route 7 to the county line, which runs atop the ridge at Snickers Gap.  On the 
south side of Route 7 is a commuter parking lot.  The count is conducted from 
there.  It is a volunteer site, and is counted in fall only, from late August 
until late November or early December.  There are no facilities at the site, so 
bring a snack, drinks, and a chair.  Many of the birds can be distant, and a 
scope is helpful.  
     As a volunteer site, we are always looking to increase our pool of 
counters.  We are eager to train those who have never counted, but are skilled 
with hawk identification.  We are also willing to pair inexperienced observers 
with experienced counters.  Please contact the compiler, Todd Day, at 
blkvulture@xxxxxxx with any questions or if you are interested in participating 
in the count.  

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  • » [va-bird] HSR: Snickers Gap (15 Oct 2003) Raptor counts (total=89)