Nighthawks At Dusk
This time of year, late August, when summer's long, slinky dress is getting tattered and torn, and tangled up in Autumn's briers, as dusk falls upon the land, the nighthawks emerge on the northern horizon. Their dark scimitar shapes contrast starkly with the peach wash of the sky. Their diligent, loping wing strokes carry the nighthawks along the ridges, where the last heat of the day may yet hold a dragonfly or two for them to scoop up on the wing.
I love the nighthawk evenings. I've been watching for them every fall these last three decades. My first one was during band camp when I was a 10th grader. As we stood at attention on the marching field, the dew covering everything, the dark birds of passage came among us. Hundreds upon hundreds of them, swooping and cutting the wet evening air. A girl in the trombone section screamed "They're BATS!"
I alone among my bandmates knew the true identity of these winged creatures. Common nighthawks making their way south in the autumn twilight.
Here on our ridgetop farm we've got a great spot for watching the fall march of the nighthawks.
Two nights ago we had several waves, each with about 25 birds. We did our best to photographs them, but the fast-moving birds in low light proved to be quite a challenge.