We have broken several records for the Fall Season and the Year. We also have broken the state record in Golden Eagle flight for the Fall Season. We will have a report of our Fall Season Count as soon as we investigate other possible records.
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch:
Location: 40 degrees 04' N, 78 degrees 43' W, within 4 miles of Central City, PA. Elevation (2850')
Site Description: A privately-owned mountaintop watch site with a 180o view to the East, in the Allegheny Mountains. The Alleghenies form the SE edge of the Allegheny Plateau, which extends N to Lake Ontario and W to Lake Erie. Migration is most pronounced on East winds.
Monitoring Activity: Monitoring and counting of migrating raptors, (hawks and eagles), waterfowl and some insects has occurred since 1989. Counts are made by Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society members seven days a week from late August through November. Spring monitoring takes place but with less coverage. Visitors are always welcome. Handicapped parking is available. Due to limited parking, groups are asked to make arrangements by contacting the APAS. Donations and new members are always welcome.
Research and Conservation: Count results appear in HMANA Hawk Migration Studies, Pennsylvania Birds, American Birds, and Chickadee Chatter (Allegheny Plateau's newsletter).
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch Experience:
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch is a cleared area at the top of Shaffer Mountain outside the town of Central City, PA between Shade Township, Somerset County and Napier Township, Bedford County. The Allegheny Front is the eastern edge of the Allegheny Plateau as it transitions with many dramatic drop offs from the plateau to valley sections formed by the Appalachian Mountains.
The watch site sits about 800ft above a valley spanning central Bedford County and gives a nearly 180o view along a NNE to SSW axis On a clear day, one can see as far North as Blue Knob and as far South as the I-70 corridor. The view of the valley spans East beyond Shawnee State Park and the ridges beyond Tussey Mountain. This allows an expansive view of land and sky and provides a unique vantage point for many since most of our high mountain views are heavily wooded and inaccessible.
This site is the western most migration counting point in PA. Raptors, (hawks, eagles, falcons, etc…), are counted as they work their way through the spine of the Appalachians. The actual amount of birds that can be seen in a day vary greatly, even from hour to hour. The flight of raptors at the site can be influenced by the weather. A wind from the East can “push the birds into the mountain” so they fly over our heads giving what can be a spectacular display. Their flight during other winds is variable. Birds do not fly during rain so if it is raining, there will be no flight and the watch might close for the day.
On a typical day, there will be a counter who is responsible for sighting, identifying, and recording raptors that are migrating through the area. These records are sent to several organizations that use them to compile data on their populations and movements. There will probably be others enjoying and participating in the hawk count but the counter makes the official records. Using binoculars, these people will scan the skies for these particular birds and call out when they sight a bird for the counter to identify. There is often discussion as to the identity of the bird.
Birds fly anywhere in the sky. Sometimes close overhead. Sometimes far out in the valley and partially obscured by haze. It can be frustrating at first when someone calls a bird and you have trouble finding it, but you will get the hang of it. Relax and listen to their instructions and eventually you will find the birds.
Another word on weather… it is unpredictable here. Expect it to be colder and windier than most areas in the region. Plan to bring extra clothes to deal with the weather. Sun protection is also important. The watch site has a relatively flat terrain and visitors are invited to bring chairs to make themselves comfortable. A portable restroom is available although not necessarily handicapped accessible. APAS merchandise is available for sale at the site for those interested.
From the Reels Corner intersection of U.S. Route 30 and PA Route 160, go North on PA Route 160 into Central City, (approximately 4 miles). As you enter Central City you will pass a BP station on your left as 160 becomes Lambert Street. Continue on Lambert Street. BE CAREFUL… about 1/4 mile into Central City, Route 160 will take a sharp left but Lambert St goes straight ahead. Continue straight on Lambert St, (now SR 1018). After a rough railroad crossing, Lambert St becomes Shaffer Mountain Road. Continue straight on Shaffer Mountain road for 0.8 miles then make a right hand turn onto Lambert Mountain Road (SR 1035). Take Lambert Mountain Road for approximately 2.9 miles into the little village of Daley, (look for a small, white church on your right). Beyond the church, you come to an intersection. Although the main road turns left, continue straight up a narrow road, (it is still Lambert Mountain Rd). Pass the Daley Cemetery, which will be on the right. Approximately 0.5 miles up the narrow road (which will become dirt and chip) there will be a blue metal gate on the right. This is the entrance to the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch. If you have a bus, this is as far as you can go, otherwise, if the gate is open (and it will be when the site is staffed), go down the lane to the parking area (approximately 0.25 miles from the gate). The watch site is at the end of the parking area. (Handicapped individuals are welcome to park on the site. Follow the hp parking signs.)
From PA Route 56 in Windber, Take PA Route 160 South into Central City, (approximately 10 miles). As you enter Central City, PA160 becomes Main St and will lead to a stop sign at the intersection with Sunshine Ave, (@ First Commonwealth Bank). At this point continue straight through the intersection staying on Main St. Main St will shortly end at a T where you will turn left onto Shaffer Mountain Road. Continue on Shaffer Mountain road for 0.8 miles and make a right hand turn onto Lambert Mountain Road (SR 1035). Take Lambert Mountain Road for approximately 2.9 miles into the little village of Daley, (look for a small, white church on your right). Beyond the church, you come to an intersection. Although the main road turns left, continue straight up a narrow road, (it is still Lambert Mountain Rd). Pass the Daley Cemetery, on the right. Approximately 0.5 miles up the narrow road (which will become dirt and chip) there will be a blue metal gate on the right. This is the entrance to the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch. If you have a bus, this is as far as you can go, otherwise, if the gate is open (and it will be when the site is open), go down the lane to the parking area (approximately 0.25 miles from the gate). The watch site is at the end of the parking area. (Handicapped individuals are welcome to park on the site. Follow the hp parking signs.)