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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Frank Windfelder

November 6, 2004


A strong cold front with northwest winds had passed through the previous day, bringing with it 10 Golden Eagles, 2 Northern Goshawks, and a Rough-legged Hawk. With this in mind, I was eager to get to the ridge, only to find to my dismay that the winds had shifted to the West-Southwest. The DVOC must have been forewarned, because only Steve Kacir joined me in the parking lot for the trek along the Appalachian Trail up to Bake Oven Knob.

We arrived at the top at 9:00 AM, where we were treated to good looks at a perched Purple Finch, but no hawks. Chris Walters soon joined us, and the three of us basically had some nice conversations during the next two hours, but only two Red-tailed Hawks to show for our birding efforts.

Finally, Chris spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk down in the valley, and things started to look up. In fact, we were soon treated to great views of an adult Northern Goshawk, with its bold eye line and gray markings. It obviously had eaten well, for it had a full crop.

Meanwhile, Nancy Cooke, Steve Liebhaber, and Deborah Dorn had joined our group. They were in time to see the first of two Golden Eagles seen by most of us. This bird was an immature. We could clearly see the white tail with a black terminal band and the white panels at the base of the flight feathers. We had a glimpse of the golden nape hackles.

We also had 1 Cooper’s Hawk, 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks, and a total of 35 Red-tailed Hawks during the day. At 2:30 PM, Art McMorris showed up on the knob, just as I was about to leave. He was on his way to the DVOC Saw-whet Owl banding field trip, as were Nancy and Steve L.

When I got to the bottom of the ridge, I found an American Kestrel. I was also wondering what lies Art and a lingering Chris Walters would tell me later about what they saw after I left. I shouldn’t have checked my email that evening, Alas, Chris wrote about having two more Golden Eagles, both adults. Four Golden Eagles and a Northern Goshawk - just another day at the office!