I have been on nighthawk patrol every free evening this week. So far I have had little joy in that regard. Last night I had just one, so I am a tad jealous of people seeing 20 or 30 of these pretty birds scooting across a darkening sky. Still, I have no complaints. Standing outside in nice weather, no one else around, just watching the evening approach is its own reward.
The barn swallows have left the mountain, though I saw a few near the neighboring orchard yesterday. The yellow-billed cuckoo still calls from deeper in the forest. The eastern pewees call as well, but they are a late migrant and this is still early in the season. Robins are beginning to leave. Small groups of them move through the trees; often half of these groups are young birds, still spotted, still with yellow lores. I also had two flocks of cedar waxwings, a total of 25 birds. One flock stayed nearly half an hour in the top of a nearby tree, occasionally taking to the air to circle briefly before returning to the tree top again.
Last night a ruby-throated hummingbird zoomed around my shoulder. I wondered what attracted it until I realized it was investigating the red bulbs in my taillights. Hummingbirds are so predictable.
So the season is turning, slowly still, but inevitably. No longer do I ask myself if something I see is a migrant or simply an outlier. The answers are visible in an evening sky.