Monday, August 20, 2012

Autumn Harbinger

Common Nighthawk (Internet image by Bill Schmoker)
It's not here yet, but when the Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) make their evening appearance over the preserve's grasslands, autumn cannot be far behind.  I keep a close watch on the sky over the fields as dusk approaches this time of year, and last evening was rewarded with a single nighthawk - the first of the season.

It's not like the arrival of the nighthawks is the only evidence of the end of summer.  The Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) patrolling the airspace over the meadows have been replaced by Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica) (and tremendous numbers of dragonflies, too!).  The foliage of the flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) is turning decidedly crimson, and the Indian-grass (Sorghastrum nutans), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and deep magenta purpletop (Tridens flavus) are in full flower.

But it's the annual arrival of the nighthawks that clinches the deal for me.


packrat said...

I love the Nighthawks, Scott, though they are muy difficult to photograph in flight; the flight pattern is so erratic.

Excellent writing in this post. You know, it reminded me of Joseph Wood Krutch's book "The Twelve Seasons." Have you read it?

Keep up the great work!

Scott said...

Packrat: I haven't read Krutch's "The Twelve Seasons" but I'll check it out. Thanks for the compliment and the suggestion.