For some reason (probably because it was getting late and this was only going to be a short walk), I decided not to take my camera. Naturally, a big mistake. We walked out into the beautiful grasslands full of head-high flowering Indian-grass and Purple-top, and approached the top of a hill with exhilaratingly expansive views. The sun was setting behind clouds and was producing one of the most beautiful celestial displays we've ever enjoyed--but I didn't have my camera. The image above is borrowed from the Internet, but is remarkably similar to what I would have captured out in the meadows.
And the Nighthawks didn't disappoint. We counted seven wheedling high up in the sky, joined at a slightly lower altitude by Chimney Swifts.
One phenomenon that I have noticed at the beginning of each autumn is a nightly streaming of perching birds, most of which seem to be American Robins. As sunset approaches, birds stream across the meadow skies from northeast to southwest. I believe that the birds are flying to a communal roost for the night somewhere southwest of the preserve, but I have no idea where these hundreds of birds end up. Scanning from horizon to horizon, there may be a dozen or so birds visible at any given moment. As some birds disappear in the southwest, their numbers are reinforced by new birds appearing from the northeast.
_____We've had a Sedge Wren (or pair of Sedge Wrens) in the grasslands for at least two weeks, and its/their continued presence was confirmed by four birders yesterday afternoon. As I had posted previously, Sedge Wrens are threatened in Pennsylvania, so we're really fortunate to host this species.