I must tell you up front that "watch" is the operative word here. Just like "askin' ain't gettin'," so "watchin' ain't seein'." In case you are hoping for shots of soaring raptors, I will tell you that not one hawk made an appearance. There was a lot of talk of all the Broadwings and Red-tailed Hawks that were seen on Friday. More than 200 raptors were counted Friday. That was not to be the case on Saturday. In truth, I did not stay for the entire four hours, leaving after only an hour. So it is possible, even likely, that after I left the hawks soared through.
[Disclaimer: I have never before photographed a bird in flight, so keep that in mind.]
When I arrived, several people were gathered at the observation area.
They were looking in all directions. Most of them stopped to welcome me to the group. The Ranger scanned the skies (along with everyone else) hoping to get that first glimpse.
Not a hawk, but a vulture appeared on the horizon. This was sufficient to excite everyone in the crowd.
A Turkey Vulture soared past us. Despite the fact that these are relatively common around here, we all watched as if we'd never seen one. Seeing a vulture high in the sky is one thing; seeing one gliding below you is another.
More and more vultures appeared, much to the delight of everyone.
I just loved the way the group banded together. Within twenty minutes we were all on a first-name basis. As I was taking pictures, Miriam (whom I had never met before) suggested I take a picture of the little flower growing in a tiny hole in the large rock formation below us. So this one is for Miriam:
So I left my first Hawk Watch without seeing a single hawk. Was this a bust? Absolutely not. It was a WONDERFUL afternoon. Where else but during a bird watch would some stranger hand you a $2,000 pair of Swarovski binoculars and say, "Take a look through these, Carolyn." The group enjoyed sharing information about cameras, lenses, binoculars and experiences. One woman told her husband, "But I thought you said you have the Cadillac of binoculars." The husband replied, "Yes, but John here has the Masarati." I don't know if all bird watching groups are so friendly and congenial, but this one was wonderful and I truly enjoyed the time I spent with them.
-----The final picture is one of the trees below us. There is a tiny hint of the spectacular color to follow. I can't wait!
Fortunately, the hawks do not select one specific day to fly the escarpment. My husband and I will drive down there during the week to see if we can find some raptors. And I will do more practicing in photographing flying objects to give you some better pictures.