Monday, September 22, 2014

A Nice Day in the Mountains

Hawk watching at Milepost 235 on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Mahogany Rock Overlook) September 21st produced birds, butterflies, and beautiful weather. Brisk northerly winds kept the smaller landbirds hunkered down, but made for good raptor migration conditions. By 11:00 AM the group had counted 95 Broad-winged hawks, 2 Osprey, 3 Sharp-shinned hawks, and 2 American kestrels. You had to be fast for many of the birds; the winds were zipping them past the counters at a fast clip for a while.
Ten birders from Charlotte made the drive to the watch site. Other birding groups from the state were represented too, with a total of around thirty people leisurely observing the show.
The winds died after lunchtime, and the migration action died with it. that gave us an opportunity to do a bit of butterfly ID. The warming temperatures allowed us to count 13 butterfly species just on the overlook lawn.
Counting will continue thru mid-November on good-weather days. If you are driving the Parkway in the next few weeks, drop in and check it out.

American Kestrel by John Ennis

Osprey by Phil Fowler

Sharp-shinned Hawk by Jeff Lewis

Broad-winged Hawk by Phil Fowler