Friday, September 12, 2008

A quiet spectacle at twilight

About 7:45 this evening, I stepped outside into a misty rain to let the dogs out, and was treated to the sight of a few dozen nighthawks flying low overhead. It's not unusual to see nighthawks in the neighborhood in the summer, but a concentration like this only occurs during migration. The caprimulgids swept across the sky, coming from and going to all directions at once, barreling through on shallow, falcon-like wingbeats, occasionally pitching up and stalling, or changing direction so abruptly it seemed they might turn inside-out—all without benefit of an air-traffic controller. The beauty of their flight was enhanced by an unusual quiet: none of the nighthawks' typical buzzing calls, no traffic noise, no barking dogs (even Maxine & Anya seemed to respect the moment), and the two chimney swifts that joined in the chase for insects (apparently undeterred by the mist) withheld their usual chattering.

You should have been there.

You can be there: The migration is underway, and all you need is a little lucky timing and an excuse to step outside in the evening.


1 comment:

Remchick said...

Keep looking after dark as well. The moon has been eerily beautiful these last few nights.