Meet the 2024 Crew: Gunsight HawkWatch

Gunsight is our second newest site, with HawkWatch International crews conducting full-season counts starting in 2016. While this will be the 7th full season of HWI teams counting, our local friends and partners have counted for shorter spans and visited Gunsight Mountain since the 1970s! Even so, the nature of the site still makes it feel like you’ve stumbled across something big, and the 1,000+ migrating Golden Eagles and 1,000+ Red-tailed Hawks counted over the season backs that up. The site is a two-hour drive from Anchorage and is humbly located along the side of the road. I know a trip up to Alaska isn’t the most accessible, but if you have the chance to visit the northernmost hawkwatch in the world, we can’t recommend it enough.

So, who are the folks willing to brave the snowy weather for the sake of conservation? Meet our two counters—both new to the HWI migration network!

Sam Darmstadt

Sam is an avid birder and naturalist and has held various seasonal field positions since graduating college in 2022. He looks forward to counting lots of awesome northern species of raptors in the beautiful state of Alaska! Sam spent a good portion of last year in the state, mostly working with seabirds, and can’t wait to go back. Sam has worked on a goshawk survey crew in California, and he looks forward to seeing many more of these charming birds at Gunsight Mountain!

Andrew Newcomb

Andrew was born and raised in Buchanan, Virginia. He received his associate degree in forestry from Mountain Gateway Community College and hopes to transfer to Virginia Tech this fall to pursue a degree in Wildlife Conservation. This is Andrew’s first time working with Hawkwatch International, and he couldn’t be more excited. He has volunteered at Harvey’s Knob Hawkwatch since 2018 and has been participating in counts there since 2014. Outside of hawks, Andrew loves to play the guitar, cook, and cheer on the Miami Dolphins. He never gets tired of seeing raptors, but he thinks Peregrine Falcons are on another level.

If you need help planning your trip or are curious about how the count is going throughout the season, join our “Friends of Gunsight Mountain HawkWatch” Facebook group! There, you can chat directly with our crew and other bird nerds excited about the spring count.

Looking for a warmer hawkwatching experience? We’ve added a second spring site to the network this year! Join us at Tubac HawkWatch, Arizona, through April 30th to see southwestern specialties like the Common Black Hawk!

This blog was written by Sammy Riccio, our Communications Manager, as well as the 2024 Gunsight Mountain crewmembers. You can learn more about Sammy here.

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