Sunday, August 15, 2010

August doldrums

I apologize to anyone who may have been wondering about the birds of Central Illinois this month, because I will be the first to admit, I've slacked off with my posting. This is because I've slacked off with my my birding. And THIS is because it's been so damn hot! I have lived in Illinois for eight years now, and I think this is the hottest it's been in all that time. Last week there was a heat advisory nearly every day, the heat index rising above 100 by mid-afternoon...absolutely horrid. I know, I complain about the weather a lot. It's one of my weaknesses.

Yesterday evening I did walk around Bloomington a bit, along the Constitution Trail, and noticed huge flocks of swallows swooping and chittering overhead. It's an end of summer feeling, a bit melancholy in a way. The young are all testing their wings now and before long, they'll be gone, the season will be over. It's so beautiful and yet it makes me want to cry. (The Japanese have a word for it [the feeling, not the swooping swallows]: mono no aware, a sensitivity to ephemera, a sense of poignancy at the passage of the seasons. I think it's ironic that the dude who invented the expression, a scholar named Motoori Norinaga, was trying to encapsulate what is uniquely Japanese about their artistic sensibility, because when I first heard the term, I was so happy that I finally knew there was a word for what I'd been feeling all along.)

This morning I went out to Comlara, more for my mental health (I really need periodic nature breaks, no matter how awful the elements) than because I expected to see many birds. And I had a nice (if quite muggy) nature walk and did not see that many birds. I didn't hear a single dickcissel, common yellowthroat, meadowlark or towhee. I would have said it was absolutely silent if it hadn't been for the ruckus of crows and blue jays, plus some lovely cardinals belting out, what cheer!

The best sightings were of a tufted titmouse (one of the cutest birds of the region) and a young house wren, who was trying to scold me but didn't quite have the noise down yet.

At least next week, the warblers might start coming through. That's right...fall migration is just around the corner!

1 comment:

  1. Almost all of the birds up here in the U.P. have stopped singing, but, at Lake Calumet, there are at least 3 catbirds that canNOT be silent. Their "song" never fails to make me smile.