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My dog molly and I took a hike up Mt Mansfield Friday, stopping 3/4 of
the way up Sunset Ridge to see if any hawks were moving. Man, was that
wind blowing from the West/Southwest! It felt very much like winter up
there despite the brilliant sunshine.

From a south-facing outcrop overlooking the steep drop off into the bowl
between Sunset and Maple Ridges, there was a wild updraft. At first,
there were no birds, but the view of this bowl and it's orange foliage
were plenty to look at. After about 15 mintues of hawklessness, I found
myself eye to eye with an incoming adult Bald Eagle. It hit the updraft
about 80 feet away from me and rose at an amazing speed that apparently
took the bird by surprise. A couple mintues later, as I lowered my
binocs from the southbound bird, I noticed another eagle also right in
front of me. This one appeared totally dark, and was so close, but only
gave me an eye level look at its backside as it headed directly away
south. Never turned, flapped, nothing, so I couldn't get an ID...

Surprised and quite pleased to have seen any hawks at all braving those
winds, I packed up and dutifully headed back towards the trail to make
my way down. Like an arrow into the wind, a silhoutted falcon zipped by
me. Too much! As it hit that updraft, it untucked its wings and rocketed
back East then North towards the chin, revealing a slate blue/gray back,
and jet black hood. It's yellow/orange lores lit up in the sun. I
watched the peregrine fly for about a minute before it disappeared over
the Stowe side heading south. Amazing, but watching this bird fly, you
never would have known there was the slightest breeze up there...

Until the next cold front,

-Rick