|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Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) patrolling the airspace over the meadows have been replaced by Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica) (and tremendous numbers of dragonflies, too!).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.