A couple weeks back, Park asked if we'd like to join him and Katie on a quick trip to Kingsport to stay with his mom and help out on a hawk counting project as well as go hiking at The Great Channels. The channels have been on my list since this past spring and I jumped at the chance.
We decided to combine the Wed-Thur events with Matt's Friday off and make it a longer trip. Park and Katie had to head back Thursday night but his mom was game for us to stay another night to make meeting up with Matt easier. He drove the 5 hours up to join us after work and got in around 11. We left his car there the next morning and took the van on the second leg of the trip, staying 2 nights at Beartree Campground outside Damascus.
It was sunny and gorgeous, cloudy and cold, rainy and hailed a while, back around to sunny but not warm, foggy, damp, dry and everything in between. Temps ranged from around 80 to a low of 38.
The kids and I headed out Tuesday to meet up that evening and arrived on time, Park was a couple hours late. So I got to do my least favorite thing-meet a new person and impose on them straight away. Luckily, she's used to it as Park drags home strays and sometimes just sends total strangers along assuring them she'll love the company. We introduced her to AirBnB before we left out Sunday. She might as well get some income from the traffic!
Wednesday morning we headed to Mendota fire tower and hiked the short but steeeeep trail to the top and ran into a group of men ranging in age from around 40 to 75 or so, all looking through binoculars and yelling bird types and numbers to one another to write down. They told us how to tell what the bird is from the silhouette and that turkey vultures are black against the sky. There were about 95% broadwing hawks coming through, but as we arrived a peregrine falcon passed through, then an osprey, so that was cool!
I had imagined hoards of birds, like the way they come in at the refuge. But it was mostly 1 to 7 hawks at a time and they flew by at a distance. A group is called a kettle, but they don't fly together on purpose, just happened to catch the same pocket of air, much like people catching the same elevator. They had counted over 4000 in the previous 2 weeks.
Wednesday night, we had a bonfire and camped out by the creek. It was Reedy Creek, which was nice as that's the creek at Disney World and the station there is Reedy Creek Radio. Chan and I have been having Disney withdrawals,
Thursday morning, we woke up and loaded up for our hike to The Channels.