Last year, a little tree work was done near the summit of High Mountain in an effort to restore the historic views to the east, which includes much of North Jersey, New York City, the GWB and the Verrazano.
One of the first things I saw a Peregrine fly across the opening that day.
Stiles Thomas, a lover of hawk watches, suggested that as a one-day experiment, I do a hawk count from the summit, and thought that Sept. 16, traditionally the biggest flight of Broad-wings in these parts, would be the day to do it.
Long story short: Seven fellow birders and I gave the plan a try yesterday. The majority of us birded for over two hours, from 11 a.m. to a bit past 1 p.m. We got great views of young local Redtails, vultures and the panorama of land and sky before us, but the raptor migration wasn't great -- 5 Sharpies, 6 Osprey, 6 Broad-wings, 6 migrating Red-tails, 2 Kestrels and two accipiters that were too high and far away to call.
Also saw many Eastern Tailed-blues, a couple of Monarchs, a Painted/American Lady, a Spicebush Swallowtail and a Black Swallowtail.
We touched base with three established hawk watches during that time, and they seemed to be doing better than us. (Great for them!)
Bottom line: as a hawk watch, High Mountain's summit is too hard to get to (45-minute hike each way, with no restrooms anywhere nearby) for the numbers of raptors you'll likely see.
But for a great walk in the woods with some good birding and butterflies along the way, "Hawks on High," as I've dubbed it, was fun. We may try again next year.
(Below, a partial group shot, the new kiosk by the Red Trail at William Paterson U. in Wayne, and some of the birders scanning the skies for raptors.)