Hawk Fest held at Bake Oven Knob
ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS A redtail hawk watches people as it in turn is watched.
Michal and Clare Kubik had their reptiles at the Hawk Fest sponsored by the Lehigh Gap Nature Center recently at Bake Oven Knob.
The Knob is a hawk-watching site along the Kittatinny Ridge.
But much more exciting was the Eastern Garter Snake found along the trail to the hawk lookouts. "Did you see the snake?" and "Is it still there" were heard frequently for about 20 minutes.
Kubik said he saw a rat snake climb up the side of a house and catch an English sparrow as it returned to its nest. The rat snake he had was calm because he had it since it was young and it was used to being handled. In the wild it is apt to bite (non-poisonous) if it considers itself in danger.
Jeanne Carl of the Carbon County Environmental Education Center brought a redtail hawk named Lazarus. All the animals used for education at the Center cannot be released because the physical damage that brought them to the center was too extensive.
She had a table with mounted hawks - a Cooper hawk lays on its back holding a chipmunk in its talons. Carl has the feet and lower legs from different hawks to show the sizes.
Ben Wessner took the opportunity to hold the rat snake. His father, Forrest, said they take a lot of hikes in the wildlife refuge at the Nature Center.
A display showed the various amounts of energy needed to travel the 600 miles a hummingbird migrates. It uses 18 calories equivalent to one-quarter cup popcorn or 55 drops of gasoline.
A man would require 50,000 calories from 781 cups of popcorn or 1.6 gallons of gas, and a car needs 755,280 calories, the equivalent of 11,800 cups of popcorn or 24 gallons of gas.
The hummingbird begins its migration weighing 4.5 grams and will lose half that weight during the journey. They have stopped on ships and oil derricks along the way to rest.
By 1 p.m. of Hawk Fest day 24 turkey vultures had been seen at the lookout, seven sharp shinned hawks and two bald eagles - a portion of the 152 hawks that had come through that morning.
The falling of acorns provides an accompaniment as people head up the trail to the lookout.
Kathy Romano from the Lehigh Gap Nature Center was helping people spot hawks - except the hawks were few in number. Most of what came past the South Lookout were turkey vultures.
There was little wind and the hawks do not like flying without wind for an assist. The middle of September is a good day for broadwings, said Romano, and on the previous Thursday it had held true to form as many were seen.
"I love coming here in September. If you miss it, you are crazy," she said.
The vultures were circling in the thermals caused by uneven heating.
As a plane is seen in the distance Barb Egerton of Moore Township says it is a gas hawk, a play on the name goshawk.
Romano said she saw 10 bald eagles in three hours on Friday.
"You pick your lookout (north or south) according to the wind direction," she said.
A large triangular rock tells everyone passing through that they have been at Bake Oven Knob.