A Different Kind of Tailgate– Hawk Observatory Tower

September 17, 2006 at 3:56 pm 3 comments

Yesterday, we gathered as usual at Larry’s tailgate for Virginia Tech vs. Duke.  Even though the game started at noon, this was an all day event.  My husband woke up at 5:15 AM to start cooking the food.  Others arrived as early as 8 AM to begin the festivities and then after the game we ate and visited until well after dark.  We are far from the only ones celebrating. As we walk back and forth to the game, we always pass the fleet of RVs, trucks and cars with their own array of food, chairs, flags, signs and even satelitte TVs.

I woke up this morning and remembered that it was the peak season for the hawk migration at the Hanging Rock Observatory Tower on Peters Mountain in West Virginia (near Waiteville). 

(Look closely– Henry is on the rocks)

That reminded me of a different kind of tailgate!  Instead of bringing plenty of food and supplies and for an entire day of partying for football, these participants are there for the hawks.  And although they are much smaller in number, the participants are every bit as dedicated as the Hokie fans. 

Almost exactly two years ago (September 18, 2004), Alex Moskwa and I happened to visit the tower on a very good day and we met three of the die-hard fans.  My journal excerpt from September 20, 2004:

On Saturday we drove to WVA to the hawk observatory tower.  On the way there I said to Alex, “I hope we see a hawk.”

My goodness, did I feel silly once we got there.  Hawks were plentiful!  It turned out to be one of the best weekends to watch the migration!

There were so many hawks, in fact, that Jimmie took an interest in watching out the window:

There were three men already in the tower when Alex and I arrived.  Boy were they serious bird watchers!!!  They had extra binoculars with them, [food, drink, chairs] and they had been there since 9 AM!  One guy even had a click-counter like the one Grandma had at the Mill House Musuem [in Occoquan].

At 6 PM, one man had to drag himself home for dinner.  He said if he’s good tonight and went home for dinner then, “[He] could come back tomorrow.”

Here’s something cute.  The clock in the observatory tower was an hour behind.

“That’s hawk time,” an old man named George told me.

The hawks are from South America and they don’t change their clocks as they pass through time zones, so the observatory keeps their clocks in time with the hawks.

All three men were very friendly and informative.  I throughly enjoyed meeting them.

After we parted ways I got to redeem myself.  Alex and I found a geocache I failed miserably to find over a year ago. 

The three hawk watchers had been up there so much, they were familiar with “the treasure.”  It was cute they referred to it that way.

If you are in the Southwest Virginia/West Virginia area and have free time in the next week or so, I highly recommend a visit up to the Hawk Observatory Tower.  Now’s the time to go– yesterday alone, they counted 681 hawks!

Entry filed under: Alex Moskwa, Football, Hawk, Henry, Hiking, Jimmie, Virginia Tech.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tgaw  |  September 17, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Link to Roanoke Times article on the Hawk Observatory Tower:

    From Ashes to Eagles on Peters Mountain

  • 2. Antibush  |  February 12, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? How does that work in a democracy again? How does being more threatening make us more likeable?Isn’t the country with
    the most weapons the biggest threat to the rest of the world? When one country is the biggest threat to the rest of the world, isn’t that likely to be the most hated country?
    What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

  • 3. Clint  |  February 14, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    Antibush, you’re at it again? At least post your thoughts attached to political posts where people might actually read them!

    Then again, the people that need to hear this are more likely to tailgate. hehe.


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