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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Art McMorris

Night Birding for Migrants
Friday September 17, 2010, 5:00 – 7:00 AM
Leaders: Ted Floyd, Art McMorris

Six sleep-deprived souls met in the pre-dawn darkness at Green Lane in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia to listen for nocturnal flight calls. The target species was Bicknell’s Thrush, but all birds were declared welcome. A front brought rain through during the night, and the forecast for the early morning was for southwesterly winds, possibly the worst direction for fall migrants. Unfortunately, the forecast proved accurate. Two passing Swainson’s Thrushes were heard, but that was all for flight calls. Also heard was a perched Great Horned Owl. The tree line seemed perfect for Eastern Screech Owls, so as first light approached we moved closer and Ted whistled his imitation that was better than a genuine owl. A real owl obligingly answered. As the sky turned lighter we walked the field edges and came up with a list of the usual suspects.

The highlight of the trip was a non-avian one: a view of Uranus near opposition, when it’s closest to earth in its 85-year orbit, and near Jupiter, making it easy to find in the night sky. Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons shone brightly, and Uranus was easy to find with binoculars, and easier in the scope, as a nearby greenish fuzzy object, until the cloud bank moved in and obliterated the view.

Birds seen and (mostly) heard:

American Kestrel
Eastern Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Blue Jay
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Swainson’s Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow