Friday, September 3, 2010

Nighthawk Sunset

Despite temperatures in the low 90s, we decided that the humidity was temperate enough last evening to allow us to enjoy a walk in our natural area after dinner. Good call!

As we were nearing the end of the walk, we were treated to a sunset that rivaled the best that the West has to offer. Such sights are not common in the Mid-Atlantic, especially not in the summer, so we drank it in.

Though we've been keeping an eye out for the last week or so, we hadn't seen any migrating Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor), which usually grace the sky during the last week of August or the first week of September. These birds are in serious decline because of habitat loss, and I was beginning to despair that we wouldn't see any this year. Then, not 100 meters from the end of the trail, over the broad expanse of native grasses planted in the natural area, four nighthawks appeared in the sky, wheeling and swooping in pursuit of late flying insects. One flew no more than ten feet over our heads. Then, as the sunset faded, the birds vanished.

2 comments:

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I've been watching nighthawks pass over here every evening in what I expect is the beginning of their migratory movement—maybe a dozen or so birds one after another. I love watching—and hearing!—the old bullbats as they swoop for bugs, though the ones I've been seeing are on the move rather than feeding.

Lovely sunset pix, BTW. Haven't seen one like that hereabouts for months.

Scott said...

Grizz,I kept listening for the nighthawks' distinctive call, but not a "peent" out of them. The fields were alive with hundreds of dragonflies just before sunset, but I imagined that nighthawks were after smaller prey.