[CT Birds] Moonwatching migration

drewclan at aol.com drewclan at aol.com
Sun May 2 10:35:52 EDT 2010

 We had an accidental chance to watch a little of the nocturnal migration on Friday night April 30th from 10:30 till midnight. Setting up a scope to look at the moon, we were delighted to see a constant stream of birds crossing the field of view. We weren't scientific about counting, but there was about one bird per minute crossing from south to north, and sometimes clumps of 5-7 birds a minute. They seemed to be pretty small in size and close to us, perhaps within a mile. We've tried to do this in the past on purpose and never had any success. Of course when birds aren't on our minds they pop up in droves.

We think a couple of things led to our success. Timing of course: we were 3 days past full moon at the end of April. But one thing that might really have helped was that the moon was quite low on the horizon, so that the scope was fairly level, meaning the birds we saw were low fliers. In astronomy we like to observe overhead at the zenith where there is less turbulence. But for nocturnal birding perhaps a low horizon view is better. Also, we were up on the highest hill in the area at 1270 feet, a good elevation for birds.

As we watched the stream of migration across the moon, barred owls and coyotes were calling. Magical.

Jay & Margaret in East Lyme
(observations were on Breezy Hill in Springfield VT)


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