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.
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.
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.
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.