Thursday, August 30, 2012

Glorious Late Summer

Last evening, Kali had to work an hour late, so I had a chance to have dinner ready when she came in the door.  After we ate, I told Kali that we had to go for a walk to take advantage of the nicest weather so far this side of summer since we were enjoying low humidity, a light breeze , and temperatures in the low 70s.  My ulterior motive, though, was to look for migrating Nighthawks over the grasslands.

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.


Carolyn H said...

Lucky you with the nighthawks. I'm still trying to see some. One night I was too early, another probably too late. I've been able to see the swifts but not the nighthawks so far. I have the streams of birds at roost-time, too but usually starlings.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Nice photograph you didn't take there! Most of our birds that roost communally don't seem to really gather in large numbers till winter begins.

packrat said...


I've had a few experiences sans camera that have convinced me never to venture out without it. I generally carry my small FujiFilm S700 (10X optical)rather than my Sony Alpha 100 or my old bowling-ball heavy Nikon SLR.

Scott said...

Carolyn: I'm fortunate to be free of most Starlings until mid- to late-winter. Then, they show up in such numbers that I've got to stop putting out suet because they consume a whole cake in as little as a few hours.

Scott said...

Packrat: Now that I've gotten my Canon SLR, I'm spoiled from using my Nikon pocket point-and-shoot, even though it produces some great images, too. The Canon's not heavy or bulky, I just didn't feel like carrying it, and I paid the price.

Scott said...

John: If our birds roost communally during the winter here, I'm not aware of where the roosts are located. Sometimes, rarely, when the birds do group up in large numbers, neighbors of the roost complain and have the Game Commission come out to disperse (or dispatch) the birds. Such aggregations (and confrontations) usually end up in news reports.