Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Rising of the Moon

Two important things about tonight, as far as I'm concerned. First, it's late and I'm tired so this won't be as detailed as it deserves. Heck, it probably won't be as focused as it deserves. Second, tonight's moon is beautifully full and worth spending a few minutes gawking, or at least staring, at it.

Full moon by Luc Viatour, courtesy

Take some time to watch the moon, preferably through a scope so you can watch for birds flying across its face, though let me say this up front: WARNING: a full moon is bright, especially through a scope! Don't damage your retinas!

Here in the northeast, it looks like a good night for migration and a good night for observing it. Under a full moon you can observe migrating birds not only by ear as many give a characteristic flight call, but by sight, too, as they pass in front of the full moon. I spent some twenty minutes outside photographing the moon (not my image above, though, they're still on the camera). To be perfectly honest, I didn't see anything cross the moon as I stared through the camera, which wasn't optimal but I was too lazy to swap the camera for the scope on the tripod.

I did hear several flight calls, and by mid-morning tomorrow I'll know what my roof-top microphone recorded. I've been testing a new recording unit since early June, and I've impressed myself by analyzing each and every recording within a day or three after it happened. Things I've learned:
  • I record a lot more cuckoos, both Black- and Yellow-billed, during the breeding season than I see.
  • The local Ovenbirds give a beautiful flight song pre-dawn on our hill.
  • A Dark-eyed Junco likes to perch on the microphone.
  • Northern Cardinals are the earliest songsters.
  • Migration has already started. So far I've recorded American Redstarts, Yellow, Canada, Black-throated Green and Magnolia Warblers, Northern Waterthrushes, Chipping and White-throated Sparrows, and several yet-to-be-identified species. That's off the top of my head, not a complete list.
  • My neighbor's dogs bark a lot.
  • The resident coyotes howl a lot.
  • We have several vocal amphibians in our pond, and they have the stamina of a Tour de France competitor.
  • My other neighbor likes to blast classic rock every Friday night and occaisionally Saturday.
More to come as the migration season continues.



dAwN said...

Hee hee..Love these observations..they gave me a big smile! Ok so maybe we are a bit past full..but i will go out tonight to look.
I have only looked a few times to the night sky for migrating birds!
Thanks for the inspiration!
Junco is just showing off! :)
Look forward to your future posts of what u find calling out in the night!

MaineBirder said...

I love the fall migration in New England. Beautiful shot of the full moon!

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