Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer's end

Pinetown Rd., Warrington Township, York County, Pennsylvania
The swallows are gone. So it’s official now, summer is over. I’m not sure exactly when the swallows left. I think it was a couple of days ago. Some days when I looked for them and wouldn’t see them, I thought they had left only to find them again on the next night on their usual wire. But I haven’t seen them at all for a couple of days now, so this time I think they are well and truly gone.

The swifts are migrating but still around. Typically I see them, as well as nighthawks, up until around the middle of September. Usually those September birds are the ones I see from a hawkwatch ,and they are the northern birds heading south, not the local birds. The ones that summer here will have already been gone by then. But for the moment at least, I’m pretty sure the swifts that skitter over the pond are the local birds, and last night I still heard the pewee call. Neither will be on the mountain for much longer this year.

Last night I walked out to one of the snowmaking ponds and watched the mountain settle into darkness. For once the weather was pleasant and clear. I even found a good rock for my perch. I brought my binoculars but only used them once or twice. Mostly, I was close enough to see or hear all the birds around me. Nothing much happens most of the time, which is fine with me. It relaxes me to watch daylight disappear, to listen to the sounds of day turn into the quieter hours of night. Sometimes I see a bird I haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes I don’t. It’s the watching that matters, not what I see.

Soon I won’t have daylight enough to bird in the evenings. Even last night, with a nearly full moon overhead in the early evening, it was fully dark well before 8:30 pm. When those days arrive I will rely on my hearing to enjoy my evenings on the mountain, though I will still try to sit outside for a few minutes on most days, even in winter. The only time weather keeps me inside is during heavy rain, extreme heat (sometimes), thunderstorms and the odd tornado. Sometimes evening activities keep me from sitting out, so I don’t like to let bad weather stop me when I have an unscheduled evening.

Sitting outside in the evenings here on the mountain is something I value pretty highly. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about the natural world and its local inhabitants just by sitting among them and watching. I guess I feel that if I don’t take advantage of what I can learn from the mountain, what’s the point of being here? Where else can I get such a free education? It would be a shame to ignore what’s just outside my door.


Cathy said...

You better hope Mr black bear doesn't sneak up on and give you a smooch. ;-)

I hope my hummingbirds leave soon, I love them but their fighting over the feeder does get tiresome.

Already have one tree done shedding it's leaves. But this one is always a early bird.

Ricky said...

Nice post.

I just discovered your blog and after reading the three latest posts, looks to me that it has an interesting and genuine point of view with a great local flavor.

To appreciate the natural world, like in the movie theaters, there is a rule: "silent is gold"; otherwise it's like cruising the sea in a noisy boat, you won't sea many fishes around. ;)