Washington Valley Hawk Watch - Miller Lane, Bridgewater, NJ
Autumn, in the natural world, is a season of noticeable change. Trees offer a multitude of leaf colors from yellow to crimson red after a season of shades of green. Animals, like deer and foxes, begin to grow a thick layer of fur preparing themselves for the cold winter ahead, and birds migrate south to a warmer climate where there is an abundance of food and a lack of below-freezing temperatures. All of these can be seen in any of the Somerset County Park Commission's parks, especially the migrating birds.
From August through November, the Washington Valley Park Hawk Watch Area is host to several hundred hawkwatchers from all over the northeastern United States. They come to witness the thousands of hawks, falcons, and eagles flying overhead, sometimes just over the treetops. Armed with binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras, the hawkwatchers wait patiently while keeping an eye in the sky. They wait to both count and identify the onslaught of raptors making their journey south to far away places in Central and South America. Endangered and threatened birds like Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, and BaldEagles are some of the most noteworthy of the birds soaring above the area, especially when weather conditions are just right.
After a cold front moves through the area and the winds shift from the northwest, the stage is set for a day of effortless flight. When the condition occurs in mid-September while the Broad-winged Hawk migration is at its peak, more than 10,000 raptors can be seen in a single day. Of course, this is the time dozens of hawkwatcheers stand side-by-side, "armed" and ready, calling out numbers and identifying birds almost non-stop.
On September 24 and 25 from 10am-2pm, staff from the Somerset County Park Commission will conduct a Hawkwatch Open House. The Open House will help novices identify the high-soaring birds.
The Washington Valley Park Hawk Watch Area can be reached by traveling Route 22 to the Vosseller Avenue exit in Bridgewater. Drive up the hill (north) and make a left onto Miller Lane. Continue down Miller Lane, the dirt road will bring you into the parking lot. Walk through the gate and down a short trail to the actual overlook area where the skies are visible.
If you have any further questions about the Washington Valley Park Hawk Watch Area, please call the Somerset County Park Commission Rangers at 908 231-0802 or the Naturalists at