Sep 22 2008
When I arrived at Kiptopeke, the southern tip of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, I was most excited to see the hawk watch site. Turns out it’s well situated on a low bluff above the Chesapeake Bay, in a narrow break in the woods. Birds stream by headed south; north winds with an easterly component produce the best flights. Friday afternoon, while I was there, we saw Merlins every few minutes, along with smaller numbers of American Kestrels and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Many were quite close, though I didn’t attempt any photos. Several of the falcons made repeated passes at the banding station, which sits nearby.
Accommodations for the leaders were perhaps the nicest I’ve yet experienced at a festival–lovely new lodges nestled just to the east of the hawk watch, in a nice weedy field that really did have lots of migrant songbirds, though I’d bet the Blue-winged Warbler pictured on the sign is rarely if ever found there.
These places are available for rent to park visitors. Though I didn’t check the prices, they look like they’d be a blast for families and small groups. Just make sure you point the shower lever at full cold and wait a while for the hot water. Counterintuitive, I know, but it works.
The festival HQ was about 10 miles north of Kiptopeke State Park in Cape Charles, a seaside town that is transitioning from maritime industry to tourism and retirement living. The Volunteer Fire Company loaned its building for registration and exhibits.
If you’re in Cape Charles, I recommend Kelly’s Gingernut Pub. Nice food, great beer selection, friendly ambience, and free wi-fi–what more could you possibly want?
Here’s a Google Map centered on Kiptopeke State Park–you can find Cape Charles by scanning to the north along the bayshore. Hope this embed works–if it doesn’t, you can click the “View Larger Map” link to do just that.
Next up: birds!