Sunday, September 2, 2007

Common Nighthawk

I met up with a large group of birders at Rocky hill meadows on Saturday morning. We were there for the first official fall field trip offered by the Hartford Audubon Society. This area is known to be very good for inland shorebirds during fall migration. The sod fields were very dry, so the birding was slow. Sharp-shinned Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and Bobolinks were some of the more interesting birds we saw.

It was nice way for birders to reconvene for the first time since spring. Who else can I talk about birds with? If you follow a sports team, it's easy enough to find someone to strike up a conversation with. It's hard to have a conversation about birding with anyone else but another birder. Who do you talk to about birds/birding?

The weather has been terrific this week. Clear, sunny , and in the 70's. I decided that my morning field trip wasn't enough. I went for an evening walk on the nearby riverfront trail in Portland. I wasn't trying very hard to find birds, but I did have my binoculars just in case. I did come across the first Brown Thrasher that I've seen here since spring.

As the sun began to set, I was watching the skies for any flyover birds.I was surprised by of two pointy-winged birds that flew directly over my head.I was thinking to myself-Is that some kind of Falcon? I noticed that the wings had a nice pattern with white patches on the underside of the wings.Then it came to me-it was a Common Nighthawk. The Nighthawk is not a hawk at all. It is a member of the
Caprimulgidae family which includes Nightjars (Whip-poor-will etc). I'd never actually seen one through binoculars, but I remembered checking them out in the field guide.These were awesome birds to see in flight. I was really pleased that I had the opportunity to get such a nice view of them.
I didn't take a picture until after I had a good look at the birds through the binoculars.This distant photo was still helpful in confirming my identification afterwards. Can you see the pointed wings with the two white marks ?

Bill Schmoker has some nice photos of Common Nighthawks-click here. Have you ever seen a Nighthawk?


Deb said...

They've been migrating through here, but otherwise they're a pretty uncommon sight. I remember seeing many more of them when I was growing up in the suburbs on summer evenings.

Larry said...

I remeber seeing them too, but I never really saw them in detail like this time.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
I've been seeing some nighthawks also while we're out scouting for evening deer. They're so neat! Unfortunately, I'm unable to get pictures--they're just too fast for me.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

No, never seen a nighthawk, but would love to. And I share your frustration about sharing bird-talk with others. I get all excited about seeing something, mention it at work to a co-worker, and get a blank stare and a nod.
The lunchtime conversation revolves around grandchildren's teeth and recipes.

Cathy said...

By Gum! You got it Larry. Very wise of you to enjoy it with your binoculars, first - and then go for the photo.