Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Poem

Twas the night before Christmas, when all across the mountain
Not a raptor was stirring and no one was a-countin’!
The Vultures were hanging on the rails without care
In hopes that a Hawkwatcher soon would be there.
The Red Tails were nestled all snug in their trees
While visions of meadow voles danced in the breeze
(Which was a Beaufort of three or possibly four
And out of the Northwest – Who could ask for more!)
The ravens were flying, barrel rolling with jive!
The moon was full, with visibility a five……
When out of the Northeast there arose such a clatter
Every creature looked up to see what was the matter.
When what to their wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh and eight Hawkwatchers in gear.
With a little old driver, so lively a knave,
It was clear in a moment it must be Saint Dave!
As rapid as Eagles, his coursers they came
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Gibsons! Now Kirk! Now David B. and Katie!
On Dillard! On Carl! On Joyce, Milady!
On Leader, On Founder, You have to carry ‘em,
They’re a heavy load, but - On Myriam!
To the top of the mountain! To Harvey’s, Heed the call!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
“As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So do the hawks” said Saint Dave, “in migration.
They grace this spot, depending on precipitation,
Thermals, dew point and other weather factors.
They all contribute to the counter seeing raptors.”
The sleigh came to rest on the Overlook floor,
And from the Southwest came another great roar:
A bus appeared and from the moon-lit sky fell,
With sleepy-eyed Hawkwatchers, saying: “What the Hell?”
“Here is your Christmas present” said Old Saint Dave
And to each a gold and silver counter he gave.
“But this counter is incredible” said all the counting crew
“It goes all the way up into the millions or two!”
“You can’t count that many hawks!” said Deadeye Mike Crowder
“I can! I can” said Matt and Phillip both getting louder.
Teresa said: “There must be more to this story”
“Indeed!” said the Goffs, “Indeed” echoed Cory.
The Wefels starting counting, Kathy B. and Eunice too,
Quinns, Austins, Williams, Tuckers – their thumbs turning blue.
Mike Purdy, Allen Miller – they were clicking like mad
But counting nothing and Darryl said: “This is sad.”
And says Andy to them all: ”This is very, very crazy!”
Adds Barry to the clicking: “Anyone want gravy?”
Said Saint Dave to the crowd: “I’m glad I’ve brought you joy
With this little trinket – this little counting toy.
But what do you do here? What’s the good of your eye?”
And with that cue, they one and all looked up high
And beheld a river of raptors in lines through the sky:
Every hawk that did or would ever fly.
No clickers were clicking, open each mouth
As the river ran from the North and the South.
“This is the circle of migration that you all will make”
Said the Saint to them all “And now you must awake!”
On Christmas morning, each one awoke with awe
At the dream they had had, the river they saw.
Each had a memory of resounding words that night:
“Happy Christmas to all and to all a good flight!”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blustery November

November 10, 2013, a blustery day:

The immature Bald Eagle coming in for a landing.  He failed at the pine tree to the west and then went North.  This is our local Bald Eagle.  We shall call him Harvey!

Another view of Harvey:

A Golden over the valley at a distance:

Lots of these:

And some HobKnobbers:

A good day on the mountain!

Monday, October 28, 2013

David B. and the SE Owl

October 27th, 2013

David reports:

"Very exciting bird. We knew right away it was something different as it had a very weird wing flap. It stayed around a long time, mostly high in the air. It would go north, then south, then east, then west. It was often following high above a vulture. Finally it left. Then a minute or so later it reappeared near the knob, low and to the south. Unfortunately, I had put my camera away by then."

These are some of the photos:

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Identification problem:

Another Identification problem (spotted going North several times - check markings - Don't count!):

No ID problem:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Darryl's Corner (of the world) - Brush Piles

In an attempt to provide habitat for wildlife, I have been building and maintaining brush piles for
a number of years. There is no right or wrong way. This is just the approach I follow.
1. Pick a site that has easy access and is bounded by woods on at least one side. Easy access is
critical if you plan on maintaining the site over several years. Although there may be sufficient
material to build the original site, yearly supplements usually require material being brought in.
2. Most critical for site preparation is to cut any trees or brush that will be on or near the
immediate site. These items hang up brush being thrown into the site and make for poor brush
piles and much frustration for the builder.
3. The base of the stack is where access for rabbits (rabbitat) and other small animals is built.
Logs around 6" or larger in diameter fit the bill nicely. The idea is to line them up parallel, with
gaps between them, so that animals can get in for protection from weather and predators. A
couple of right angle turns are good to add for further protection or possibly a backdoor exit.
Keep in mind that if you make the gap between the logs too large predators can get in.
4. On top of the logs add 1" to 2" branches (locust is best for durability) to make a "top" that will
help keep decaying brush from dropping into logs and blocking access.
5. Add brush evenly across the pile trying not to block the bottom access holes. Always throw the
most brushy end to the far side of the pile away from you. This allows for tighter stacking and
fewer branches in your face blocking a good throw.
6. I like to add a pretty heavy layer of evergreen, such as pine, to help with rain and snow
protection. It's amazing how many years it will last. I used Holly branches from a trimmed yard
tree on the pile in the picture.
7. Keep adding until the pile is around 5 feet tall and add each year as decay takes place. The
animals usually take care of keeping the bottom gaps open and it's pretty common to see the
openings they frequent.
I added a couple of pictures which show a new site and a few of the steps--chainsaw and tractor
added for scaling. The last picture is a site I have maintained for probably 20+ years. The site is
about 25 to 30 feet long, about 5 feet high and 10 feet or more deep. I add lots to it each each
A great place to build bird habitat is in a gully or wash area. Put the brush pointed up the gully,
against the direction of water flow, to help catch debris coming down the gully. I don't use logs in
these piles, for rabbits, because of the water. However the birds seem to like them since they
tend to be more protected. Dual purpose habitat like this allows for birds and helps the land with
healing. I only do this in areas that will not be washed away in the event of a large rain.
If a large hole opens up in the pile you may have something like a Coyote living there. If you
have doubts about allowing larger stuff to inhabit just throw a couple of large logs in the way.
Depending on how much they like the home, you may have to do it several times.
Always add new brush from the same side of your brush pile. After many years of doing this I
can tell you that it just makes life easier. Also try to NOT let the "add side" grow in boundary.
Tripping over thin brush pile edges is not fun as it tends to bang up your shins. If you want to add
depth just throw stuff over the pile.

Piles tend to be rather loose at the beginning but pack nicely over the years. Just give it time and
throw on a big piece now and then to mash it down.
Don't get carried away with building multiple sites. It takes work if you want to keep them viable.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Joyce's Day.........

.......started off simple enough.

Look at the lovely Farkleberry tree:

Then,  Zombies took over Harvey's Knob:

Then, we got word that a bird lay injured by the road down the parkway.  Matt, Joyce and Katie went to investigate.  They brought back the injured RedTailed Hawk who apparently had been hit by a car while interacting with a squirrel.  The hawk was not very responsive.  A call was made to Maureen Eiger, Avian Rehabber and the transfer was made:

This was the best he looked.

We await word of diagnosis and prognosis, but are not optimistic.  What a great lady!!

Returning to the Knob, we found further evidence of weirdity - some sort of pagan ritual:

Don't ask.  I have no idea.

Oh, yes.  We only had a handful of hawks.

Seems like only one person really stayed vigilant:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

South Carolina Broadwings

We got down to South Carolina just in time to see the Broadwings passing through on their way to the gulf.

I have to say they seem much larger, likely because of extensive consumption of Dragonflies:

Here's a small kettle we saw:

Kind of hard to see.  Here's a closer photo (starting to stream):

Finally, in full stream:

I'm sure you know my favorite hawk.  Well, I saw one with a fish and took the following photos.  Notice the shooting star in the last one.  

Any ideas?