dinsdag 11 oktober 2011

Hawkwatching and the Flight 93 Memorial Place

Yesterday evening Brandon and I made an attempt to catch rails in the evening, we didn't catch any so our mission failed haha. We had one net open using playback from 19.30 till 22.30. If we would have tried the whole night we might have succeeded. More luck next time maybe!

While we were waiting for the rails we grabbed the telescope and decided to check out the universe! We knew Jupiter would be visible and as soon as it was dark we could see it. In the scope with 60x magnification we had clear views of Jupiter together with the 4 moons, cool! I had never seen Jupiter so clear through the scope. Furthermore, we looked at the full moon. While looking at the moon we could regularly see birds migrating in front of the moon! I knew you could see this at night but I had never made an attempt to try it. Every minut 4-5 birds passed the moon, amazing! We could ID a couple as being thrushes. One bird looked like an owl/ small heron migrating in front of the moon but it went to fast. All birds flew at a height of at least a couple of hundred metres.

Jupiter with 3 of the 4 moons (terrible picture)

This morning we slept in for a bit and around 10 we left our cabin. We had made plans to go to the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch today to check out raptor migration! This Hawk Watch is the western most Hawk Watch of the Eastern U.S.A and is a good one for sure! It is a 45 min drive to the Hawk Watch from Powdermill. On our way to the Hawk Watch we saw a couple of Ring-necked Pheasants:
Two male Pheasants

When we arrived at the Hawk Watch we soon saw a migrating Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk. From the counters there we heard that it was slow so far, but once we arrived we started to get some more raptors. While we were sitting there we had an amazing view on all the land below us. An incredible lookout with all the turning leaf colours! We arrived at the watch around 11.40 and left again at 14.40. In these three hours we had a lot of Sharp-shinned Hawks, no less than 41! Furthermore we had 2 Cooper's Hawks, 2 Red-tailed Hawks and 1 stunning adult Bald Eagle. 

The raptors practically pass straight overhead so this offers amazing photo oppertunities. With an moderate eastern wind you will get a lot of passage closeby. Today the wind was a slight SE breeze, it was still enough to get basically all Sharpie's closeby though! The light wasn't too good but I ended up with some good results.

An incredible view to the East
A patch of Red Maples turning red, unlike the surrounding Oaks!
A bright coloured Red Maple
The sign of the Allegheny Front Hawkwatch

The raptors:
An adult male Sharp-shinned Hawk
Another adult male Sharp-shinned right above our heads
A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk
And the adult Bald Eagle that made my day for sure!

On our way back to Powdermill we passed the Flight 93 Memorial Place and stopped there for a moment. On 9/11/2001, as you all know, was the terrorist attack in the US. 4 hijacked airplanes were involved. Two hit the Twin Towers, one other hit the Pentagon and the fourth - that was supposed to hit the White House - crashed, here in Pennsylvania. Along Route 30, approximately 30 miles east of Ligonier. The airplane took off in the morning of 9/11 from Newark to its destination San Francisco but was hijacked above Pennsylvania, and turned towards Washington D.C. The passengers and flight attendants fought off the hijackers and tried to regain control over the plane, but while they were doing this, the plane crashed, killing all passengers (including boarding crew and terrorists).
The field where the plane crashed
We were not the only ones stopping by
What happened here

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