Picture Of The Week

Merlin eating a junco at sunset, 7 Dec 2020, Schenley Park golf course (photo by Kate St. John)

12 December 2020

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you’ve seen my best photo of the week, perhaps for the whole year, with only a brief description: Merlin eating a junco at sunset, Schenley Park golf course, 7 December 2020. Here’s the back story.

This week Pittsburgh suffered through six days in a row of unrelenting overcast “Pittsburgh Gray” skies. During that period there was only one moment when the sun made an appearance and I was determined to be outdoors with a big view of the sky when it happened: The Gleam At Sunset on Monday December 7.

During winter Pittsburgh often has overcast skies all day and clear skies at night. When the transition happens at sunset you can see clear sky approaching from Ohio but it will arrive too late to enjoy the sun. We have 10 minutes of happy sunshine and then it’s dark. The Gleam At Sunset.

The Gleam at Sunset, 30 Jan 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

A gleam was predicted for Monday so I walked to Schenley Park golf course to reach high open ground. The sky started to clear. The sunset was going to be beautiful.

Passing through Fezziwig Grove, I began to think about the merlin(s) that visit the golf course in winter. As I scanned the dead snags a merlin flew in with prey, a dark-eyed junco. My cellphone is not a robust camera so I positioned myself for the merlin silhouette.

I was lucky to photograph both: a merlin and The Gleam at Sunset.

(photos by Kate St. John)

5 thoughts on “Picture Of The Week

  1. You mentioned that ‘a gleam was forecast…’. Where do you find gleam forecasts? Anyway, this is a beautiful photo and I didn’t know that merlins could be spotted in Schenley Park!

    1. Joanne, Google weather on my Android cellphone (and any number of weather forecast websites. For instance: https://www.wunderground.com/hourly/us/pa/pittsburgh) gives an hour-by-hour weather forecast with sky conditions. On an overcast day the icon is just a gray cloud = “cloudy” hour after hour. When the sky is “mostly cloudy” the icon is a cloud with the sun peeking out behind. Knowing that sunset is at 4:53pm today, I look for the sky condition to change to “mostly cloudy” in the 4 o’clock hour. It’s a pretty good indication that there will be a Gleam at Sunset.

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