Hawk Watching on the Parkway

  • September 28, 2013 · 9:00 AM
  • Blue Ridge Parkway

The yearly migration of North American raptors is underway! Come up and enjoy this fall ritual as it plays out as it has for millennia. 

Begun in 1995, the Mount Pisgah Hawk Watch is a volunteer effort to census the migrating raptors passing through our little slice of paradise. Join experienced hawk counters for a few hours or all day. If the weather and the birds cooperate (and there are certainly no guarantees for either!) you will be able to see many different species of migrating hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures. It really is an amazing natural phenomenon.

We set up at the Mills River Valley overlook on the BRP, which is almost exactly 10 miles south of the Bent Creek entrance to the Parkway.  Note:  Don't let the name fool you!  This is several miles north of Mt. Pisgah, so don't go there looking for us! 

PLEASE consider carpooling as much as possible!!!

We'll be at the overlook conducting the watch from 9 AM til about 5 PM both Saturday and Sunday.  You can come any time during the day, and stay as long as you like.  The Mountains-To-Sea trail runs right through this overlook, so you may want to form up a group and go for an impromptu hike, so bring your boots!  :-)

  Historically the best viewing times are 10 AM - noon and 2 PM - 4 PM.  Lunch time is usually relatively slow, as are the very early and very late hours.  Migrant songbirds move well along this ridge up until 930 or 10 AM.

The Monarch migration is also happening right now, and this is a great overlook for seeing Monarchs.

How many might you see? The site record count for one day is 2549 hawks (Sept 24, 2011). Yes, 2,549 hawks in one day. Again, there is no guarantee that we will see that many, but the weather and the calendar seem to indicate that next weekend should see a fair to excellent flight.

What to bring: SUNGLASSES. Sunglasses are the most important item, so don't leave home without them! Chair (yeah...this isn't really a hike!), water, snacks. Sunscreen. Hat with a wide brim. If you have or can borrow binoculars, any kind, bring them. If you don't have any, or if yours are not so good, I will have a few loaners. Cameras? Sure, to take photos of AHG members having a great time, but unless you have amazing telephoto capability you probabaly won't be close enough to any hawks to get a decent photograph.

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  • Nancy

    I will definitely do this again. If the Parkway isn't shutdown, I'm going to make a few trips as we move into October to see what I can see. Any suggestions for viewing spots not on federal property - just in case?

    September 30, 2013

    • Bill

      There is a good group of volunteer counters down at Caesar's Head State Park in SC.

      October 1, 2013

  • Tracey R.

    Came out Saturday morning, got in a good little hike for Baxter, and saw more than I expected to...thanks Bill!! You've got the eye!

    1 · September 29, 2013

  • Bill

    Sunday's report: Nothing much. 2 Osprey early, one Sharp-shinned, then empty skies for the next 3 hours. I took off around 2. Thanks for all who came out. I'm afraid that I didn't write everyone's name down, so if you came but don't see yourself credited with this meetup let me know and I'll try to fix it

    September 29, 2013

  • Bill

    Not a great day, but there was enough action so that most everyone saw several migrants. Lots of woodpeckers and grosbeaks moving early. Total of 36 migrating raptors, including 2 Bald Eagles and 2 Osprey.
    Tomorrow's weather doesn't look any better than what we had today, so I don't expect great numbers of migrants. Be aware that if there is no significant flight by noon tomorrow I'll probably shut down early and head back to Asheville.

    September 28, 2013

  • Ron S.

    Thank you We enjoyed the opportunity to participate.

    1 · September 28, 2013

  • Tracey R.

    We'll come by and check it out for awhile....

    2 · September 28, 2013

  • Bill

    6:55 AM on Saturday. The weather for the past few days hasn't been conducive to good migration movements. Yesterday at Mahogany Rock near Sparta the watch counted a grand total of 9 migrants. With little wind in the forecast we could be in for a disappointing weekend. Better bring a book.

    September 28, 2013

  • Wendy M.

    Anyone want to carpool from Weaverville?

    September 27, 2013

    • Brett R.

      Maybe next time. I just had to withdraw from going. I tweaked my back today.

      September 27, 2013

  • Louise P.

    This sounds wonderful. Looking forward to attending. Thanks.

    September 24, 2013

  • Bill

    Just to remind you that you can see the migration from just about anywhere in this area, I've taken two of my Asheville High biology classes out to the football stadium yesterday and today (i.e., 4 class periods) and we've counted over 1,300 hawks, including a Bald Eagle this afternoon.

    2 · September 24, 2013

  • Bill

    @ Frank. The migration is pretty steady until the middle of October, then trails off significantly as far as numbers. There are lots of late migrants, however, that don't show up until later. Most of our migrant Red-tails, for example, show up mid to late October. We also get another burst of Bald Eagles in mid October. I can't promise that I will personally be there on either the 5th or the 6th, but I'm pretty sure one of the other volunteers will be there to assist you.

    September 24, 2013

    • Frank D.

      thanks for the info.

      September 24, 2013

  • Bill

    Note that I have updated some of the details (9 AM on 9/24) so you might want to re-read the description!

    September 24, 2013

  • Frank D.

    Will be out of town this weekend. If I go the following weekend Oct. 5/6th would I still see them?

    September 24, 2013

  • Bill

    @ Trevor...This is definitely a "come when you can and stay as long as you want" event.

    Also, I strongly encourage car-pooling as the parking is limited at the watch site. The Ingles across from Biltmore Square Mall is where we usually leave cars when we access the Parkway south. Use this space to locate others that are interested in carpooling.

    September 24, 2013

  • Matt R.

    This looks great, planning to attend at least one day if schedule works out. Hope to see some Broad-winged, Red-tails, and a Peregrine or two.

    September 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is it ok to justcomw for Saturday morning if we can't stay all day?

    September 24, 2013

  • Bill

    @ Karen, no we aren't camping! There is no way to post a meetup that takes place on two different days without posting it twice. I thought that would be confusing, so I just posted it as I did. I just added "9 to 5 each day" to the description. Thanks for asking. See you this weekend!

    September 23, 2013

  • Karen A.

    this sounds wonderful! are we camping out over the 2 days? if so should we bring extra food?

    September 23, 2013

  • barbara b.

    Sounds like a very refreshing way to greet the change of seasons!

    1 · September 23, 2013

6 went

  • Bill
    Road Kill Bill, Assistant Organizer
    Event Host
  • Ron S. +2
  • Tracey R. +1
    Co-Organizer
  • A former member
  • A former member

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