My husband has taken up photography as a hobby. And he’s gone all in with daylong classes, photo hikes, reflective shields, multiple lenses, tripods, etc. He enjoys taking nature photographs – lots of flowers and bald eagles-- the most. Typically he takes photo excursions on his own because he has the patience to slowly wander or wait for bald eagles to come soaring by. (Patience that I, admittedly, don’t have.)
However, last year I found an event the whole family could enjoy AND where he could snap nature photos almost to his heart’s content. We attended the annual HawkWatch Eagle Migration at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek.
We’d been to the Hitchcock Nature Center before. We spent the weekend in one of their cabins, hiked many of the trails winding through the beautiful Loess Hills, and enjoyed the views from the 45-foot-tall observation tower. (See, I can do outdoors!)
When I told my husband the HawkWatch was recognized as one of the top five in the world for viewing migrating bald eagles, he was all in. We loaded up the kids and drove two hours west to take in the event.
We arrived just in time for a raptor demonstration in the basement of the facility. It was standing room only! Representatives from a nearby raptor rescue brought out several different birds (a hawk and a falcon, for example) and talked about how each one of them had come to the rescue facility. They also answered questions from kids and adults in the audience.
After the demonstration was over, we joined up with a group hike led by one of the naturalists. Along the way, we’d stop and listen for bird calls and try to spot them in the trees. We took the time to climb the observation tower, too. There were several “spotters” armed with binoculars tracking the number of birds flying by. Unfortunately, no bald eagles flew by while we were up there. But the view itself is worth the climb.
We then ventured off on one of the trails on our own. The views of the Loess Hills were incredible that day. No bald eagles flew by while we were there, but we did spot a hawk. No one complained, though. We all had enjoyed a day spent slowly exploring nature. Even those of us who are impatient.
The HawkWatch event is scheduled for November 19, 2016. Pre-registration is required by November 16. There is no fee to attend the event itself, but there is a $2 daily admission fee per car to the park. (Well worth it!)