[wisb] Riding with the Nighthawks

Late afternoon was so beautiful yesterday I took my bike out for an hour
riding country roads. I've worked out a route that is relatively dog-free,
has some nice hills and variety of ag land, ponds and woods. I had my small
bins in my underseat bag, but never took them out. But that's not to say it
was a birdless ride. It was a wonder.
Farmers here have been working on their second cutting of hay. It finally
rained enough a couple weeks ago for it to grow.  The countryside is a
patchwork of patterns in a variety of greens. Corn fields stand tall and
bright. Fields with hay just cut, some raked, others being baled. A few
trees are changing. Everywhere I went there were Common Nighthawks. Swooping
over the fields. They were especially abundant over the cut hay, but
they even swarmed around the old red International tractor making its way
noisily across a field pulling a rhythmically thumping baler and hay wagon.

Most of the time, it was close to quiet. My tires whirred and the Nighthawks
danced against the blue sky. Silent. circling. twisting, turning. Quick
wingbeats buoying them up. A sharp cut might net a juicy insect or avoid
another bird. Bluebirds and a Kestrel on the wires. Sparrows flying into
shrubs. A gang of Flickers flushing from the sandy crossroad. Grackles
squeakily objecting to me riding under "their" roost trees. I turned off my
mental bird counter and just enjoyed the gift of the day.

The Nighthawks flew high above the spring fed ponds, while Cedar Waxwings
took midrange insects and a few migrating Cliff and Barn Swallows skimmed
the surface. There was much more than Nighthawks, but they dominated the
late afternoon and my skies.  They flew and I flew with them - even though
my tires stayed on the ground.

I know how long I was out and how far I rode, so I could put it in eBird,
except for one thing...  how do you enter a gazillion?!

Nancy Richmond
Polar- Langlade Co.


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  • » [wisb] Riding with the Nighthawks - Nancy Richmond