The Rockfish Gap Hawkwatchers
On April 27, 2019 the Rockfish Gap Hawkwatchers (Vic Laubach, Gabriel Mapel, Baxter Beamer and Ezra Staengl) will be conducting our annual Raptorthon to have fun and raise money to support HMANA’s work for raptor conservation, migration, and hawk watching throughout North America. Half of the proceeds we raise will go to HMANA and half will be used to support our local Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch.
Founded in 1976, Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch is located in Afton, VA along the Blue Ridge Mountains at an elevation of 2,100 ft. A small group of local volunteer counters cover the watch daily from mid-August through November, with the peak raptor counts occurring in the last two weeks of September. Each of us are volunteer counters at Rockfish Gap, with Ezra being our youngest and newest counter at age 15. This will be Ezra’s first Raptorthon. We have 13 common and 2 uncommon raptor species that migrate through our area. On average, we count 25,100 migrating raptors each fall.
For Raptorthon 2019, we’ll be out from sunrise to sunset on an ambitious venture while also contributing to our annual Augusta County Big Spring Day. We plan to begin before sunrise searching for Whip-poor-will, Chuck-will’s-widow, and owls at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At sunrise we’ll check a local wetlands for Sora, Rails, and Bitterns before heading west to the Allegheny Mountains for migrating passerines and raptors. We’ll work our way up to Reddish Knob, the highest point in Augusta County at 4,400 ft, in search of crossbills, woodpeckers and migrating raptors such as Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Broad-winged Hawk. We’ll then head back down into Shenandoah Valley searching for migrating shorebirds and more passerines and raptors. We aim to end the day at sunset back on the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of Woodcock and more owls.
We’re hoping to beat our Raptorthon record of 122 total species! Please consider sponsoring our team. We’re very grateful for those that have sponsored us in past years and hope you can do so again this year. We’d greatly appreciate your help!
Wish us luck!
Vic, Gabriel, Baxter, and Ezra