Sunday, May 17, 2009

Common Nighthawks, Bats...and Wild Turkeys on the Trail!

...I just need to sneak in a quick little post. Tonight, Rick and I took a walk at dusk on the trail. It was getting late, so we knew we wouldn't be able to get in much birding, but the rain had cleared and the breeze was nice, so over went at 7:40 p.m. I wanted to show Rick the Indigo Buntings. Since they always hang out in the same place and are VERY vocal, I knew it wouldn't be hard to find one. We were lucky and saw a brilliant blue Indigo Bunting within seconds of hearing him sing...and sing...and sing! As I was getting my last glimpse of him, Rick exclaimed, "Wild Turkeys on the trail!" I turned just in time to see five of them cross over and work their way into the undergrowth of the heavily wooded hillside. I haven't seen a turkey on the trail in over nine years, so what a surprise. We walked up to where they had crossed, but they had already slipped deep into cover and were out of sight.  

The sun was setting quickly and light fades fast in the understory, but with darkness comes...bats! It was so fun looking up and watching them zip and flutter around. We assumed they were Little Brown Bats because Little Browns are common in our area and these bats were pretty small (and very cute). A huge colony of them must be sleeping in the abandoned Peter's Cartridge Factory during the day, because there was an endless stream of them filtering through the corridor just under the treetops at dusk. They were very cute nabbing insects on the wing and squeaking now and then. Higher in the sky, visible straight up between the branches of the trees, were Common Nighthawks. In the binocs I could see the white bars on their wings, but their form is so distinctive we knew what they were right away. I noticed the bats at 8:45 and the Common Nighthawks shortly after. By the time we made it back to the car it was 9:10. I wonder if you wait at the Cartridge Factory for the "witching hour" if you can see a mass exodus of them skitter out of the powder factory? 

Other birds found/heard along the way: 2 Swainson's Thrushes, 3 Wood Thrushes, 1 Veery, 1 Ovenbird, 1 VERY beautiful Prothonotary Warbler, heard 3 Black and White Warblers, 1 Northern Parula, and 1 Tennesse Warbler, saw many Robins, several Northern Cardinals, four American Goldfinches, many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 2 Downy Woodpeckers, 1 Pileated Woodpecker, numerous Tree Swallows, 1 Tufted Titmouse, heard Starling babies in a nesting cavity and 3 Red-eyed Vireos...also heard a Black-billed Cuckoo and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and 3 or 4 mystery birds with unfamiliar calls and songs (I'm still working hard at learning all the songs of our neotropical migrants).

19 comments:

Kallen305 said...

Very cool! I have yet to see a nighthawk and can't wait until they come my way. It sounds like my kind of night

The Early Birder said...

An interesting evening stroll Kelly. I think a stakeout at the factory could be on the agenda?

Moria said...

Wow! Turkeys and bats, that sounds fun. I don't see many bats in my neighborhood, but we have a large colony in downtown Austin that attracts a lot of tourists.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I've never seen a nighthawk, Kelly.
I might just have to go to the factory and have a look--sort of a creepy place at dusk, though!

Ginnymo said...

What a nice evening stroll. Wouldn't that be neat to get a photo of a bat? Ha! I have seen one blue bird a couple years ago and never could figure out if it was a Mountain Bluebird or an Indigo Bunting. They are sure pretty!

Steve B said...

I had Common Nighthawks display over my house in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado. The distintive call and the booming as the dive down and flutter their wing at high speed. They are quite a sight.

Later in the evening, the Brown Bats would come out, then the Poorwills would call followed by coyotes on the ridge. That is the way it should be.

Montanagirl said...

I have seen Nighthawks at work. They are pretty amazing. I'll have to see if I can find one of the photos I took of them a year ago or so. Nice post.

Warren Baker said...

Nighthawk, Bats! now you are finding the delights of wildlife at dusk, there will be no time for anything else Kelly!!

Steve said...

We used to get loads of bats here at home, but now it's just 1 or 2 a year if I'm lucky.And you heard my now new favorite bird the Gnatcatcher. A great evenings stroll.

holdingmoments said...

Very fruitful walk Kelly. Very seldom see bats round here now; such a shame.

dAwN said...

Fantastic night of birding! I love that time of day...when the nocturnal comes out to play!

Nature As Is said...

Your a fantastic storey teller Kelly! You should write a book one day with all the information you have on birds and nature ;)

Crista

Abe Lincoln said...

Night hawks used to live about 100 yards from my house. In 1962 when we moved here. They were there a few years and then disappeared.

Abe Lincoln said...

Forgot...

In the summer I used to be outside working in the yard and the males would be diving toward earth from great heights and then pull out just before hitting the ground and their wings would make a terrific sound. You can hear their chirp for miles around. I miss that sound.

Shellmo said...

very cool sightings! I'm always amazed to see the wild turkeys! They seem to disappear as quickly as deer when they are spotted!

Nick S said...

A great list of sightings Kelly :-)
Nighthawks are always wonderful to see flying together and catching bugs.

Kelly said...

Thanks, Kim. It was fun!!

Frank...I think you're right. I would love to find out if a colony lives in the powder factory!

Moria...I've read about that colony. Have you seen it?

Nina..it is creepy because there are no lights there...and no people. Rick and I were surprised there were no cars in the parking lot when we returned to our car.

Ginny...It would be very cool, but I would guess pretty hard. I'll have to try one of these days!!

Steve...they weren't displaying....just flying above and snapping up insects. I would love to see that!

Montanagirl...I'd love to see your photo. I didn't even try to take one. Thanks!

Warren....I know.....now I have something to keep me occupied even longer, yikes!

Steve....I wonder why they have diminished. Do you know? Just wait....I have a Gnatcatcher post coming up!

Keith...just as I mentioned to Steve above. Is there a reason their population has dropped?

Dawn....I do too. I love night as well...all those night sounds!

Thank you, Crista! Wow.....hadn't thought of that. It would be fun.... :-D

Abe....that would be so cool to hear that boom. I read about it, but have never witnessed it. You were lucky to have them so close.

Shelley....I know. They seem to come equipped with cloaking devices or something!!!

Nick...thank you! I always love seeing them. They even show up under street lights and at the big ATP tennis lights in the summer.

Laure Ferlita said...

Nice to take an evening stroll with you and Rick! Thanks for sharing!

Kelly said...

...thanks, Laure!!