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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Inside the RTP Hawkwatch: Remembering Our "Iron Man"

Anyone who had visited the Rose Tree Park Hawkwatch in between the years of 2000 and 2008 probably had the pleasure of meeting one of the most dedicated hawk watchers in our local community: Charlie Haag. Charlie was a fixture at the hawkwatch. He logged countless hours as "official counter" and as an observer assisting the counter finding birds in our big skies. Charlie showed up to stand his shift despite the most trying weather conditions. Once, during a wind storm, our beloved shade tree, a Bradford Pear, suddenly split in half and fell over--missing Charlie, who was counter that day, by inches! That gives you an idea of his level of dedication to hawk counting on even the worst of days.
In 2003, Charlie was awarded "The Iron Man Award" for "Providing exceptional service to Rose Tree Park Hawkwatch and for staying the watch no matter what the cond
itions". Charlie could have earned that award every year he was a counter for our hawkwatch.

Charlie's Iron Man Award, which Charlie's wife, Chris Blidan, lovingly displayed during Charlie's Life Celebration on January 29, 2011

A maple tree was named after Charlie--"Charlie's Tree" was designated in the official panorama of the hawkwatch. This was in honor of his contributions and dedication to the hawkwatch.
Jim Lockyer created a beautiful keepsake for
"Charlie's Tree" (displayed 1.29.2011)

Always a pleasure to see his warm smiling face, and talk with him about hawks, or birds in general, it was a sore loss to our site when Charlie was no longer able to help us or visit due to his challenging battle with pancreatic cancer. But, despite that, Charlie was always with us there in spirit. The world lost a very special person on January 21, 2011, when Charlie Haag passed away. However, we Rose Tree Park Hawkwatchers know that Charlie's spirit will always be with us.

The following photos were taken the day I learned of Charlie's death. He would have delighted in seeing this adult male Rough-legged Hawk, and no doubt was winking from above...These are dedicated to you, Charlie.
May your spirit soar with the hawks!

Rough-legged Hawk, adult male light morph
Struble Lake, Chester County, PA
January 30, 2011
All below images by Holly Merker

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