Hawks and Monarchs

My dad and my kids, scouting for raptors on top of HNC tower.

Every year, many species of animals, birds, and even insects, migrate from climates that are too cold to warmer ones where they will live until they can migrate back. This past weekend started International Hawk Migration Week, so my Dad traveled down for a visit in order to see the migration. I have the good fortune of living close to Hitchcock Nature Center (HNC), over in the Iowa Mountains, which is a favorite stop for hawks. 

A gorgeous view across the Iowa Mountains from the viewing tower at HNC.

We set out early in the morning for HNC so we would have plenty of time to climb the tower and hike around the park in order to see raptors. Fortunately for us, and unbeknownst at the time, it is also early in the Monarch Butterfly Migration as well. Because of this, plenty of families were at HNC to take part in a Monarch tagging event. 

On top of the neat nature we were set to witness, it was a perfect temperature outside and it was lightly foggy as well. This fog blanketed the forest, and along with the burgeoning Fall colors beginning to shine through, it made everything look all the more stunning.

After the tower, we took a hike along Fox Ridge Run, one of the more popular (and easy) trails in the park.

The kids are keeping an eye out for raptors.

When Fox Ridge Run didn't afford us any view of either migrating species, I suggested we go to the opposite side, along different hills ridges, and hike along Badger Ridge. We were all glad I made that suggestion because we finally saw a handful of hawks AND monarchs. Here I captured two raptors sitting in a tree. I wish I would have brought my good camera instead of relying on my phone's camera!

Here's another shot of the hawks as they flapped their wings. I noticed they would do this whenever the wind picked up.

This shot is my favorite. It's not the greatest photo taken, but it does show the aforementioned hawks sitting in the tree, and I also captured a monarch! See it in flight in the top-center of the photo? I was trying to snap a photo of the monarchs, of which we saw several, but they move so quickly it's hard to capture them unless you have a good camera. Hey, at least I got both migrating species in one photo, right?

My dad is an avid hiker, which is where my love for it comes from. Having my Dad here, then, this past weekend was a lot of fun. Not only did we immensely enjoy getting to see hawks and butterflies as they migrated to warmer climates, but we got to go hiking together in my beloved Iowa Mountains. It was an amazing day, and I hope we can all do something like this again soon. Thanks, Dad. <3


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