Summer at Hawk Mountain

By Sally O’Byrne:  Teacher Naturalist and Board Member of the Delaware Nature Society and Hawk Mt. Sanctuary

In the last week of the DNS summer camp calendar, I took a group of kids, aged 11-15 to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, on the Kittatinny Ridge of the Appalachians.  It was the first week of their fall raptor migration count, so we hiked to the North Lookout to look for migrating birds, met some of the resident raptors used for education, and helped in a major conservation activity – building an erosion control check on a trail.  We also met with Keith Bildstein the Sarkis Acopian Director of Conservation Science, who was just back from the Falkland Islands where he studied the Striated Caracara, and we were treated to a personal presentation of this ‘cutting edge’ research.

Here we are on our hike to the North Lookout.

We stayed in Adirondack Shelters for three nights and cooked our meals at a stone fireplace.  All water was hauled to the site – with the rocky soil on the path, we appreciated the need to repair the trail.

Here is the Adirondack Shelter where we made camp at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

On the last morning, we took a different trail to the North Lookout where we found historic shotgun shell remnants from the days that raptors were shot by the hundreds from the mountaintop.  When we got to the top in early morning, we were greeted by a juvenile turkey vulture – a fitting end to a great week.

Here we are working on rebuiding a trail for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

This is a popular camp for 11 to 15 year olds that fills up every year.  Keep this one in mind if you know a child of this age who might enjoy this kind of experience next year. 

At the end of the week, we had observed lots of raptors, talked with scientists, enjoyed camping on the mountain, and contributed to the organization through a conservation project. Several of our campers this year were repeats from last year.

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