Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Country Life, Quiet???

My family and I moved out to the country three years ago. There were lots of reasons that my wife and I wanted to get away from downtown city-life: More room for our children to play, more subjects for my photography, closer to mountains and a little something called, "Peace and Quiet." I am very happy to report that all of these objectives have been realized with one exception: The Quiet. And, just in case anyone who knows where I live is wondering, it is not just because we are about a mile downwind from the local racetrack.

Springtime in the country has to be one of the loudest, initially most unexpected phenomena that I've ever encountered. The first night in our home, we sat in bed and listened to what sounded like Wallstreet for wildlife. Bleeps, screams, echoes, plops, plucks, tremors; you name it, we had it all. And then the Fowler's toads started and it was as if we had been immersed in a scene from 1970s horror-flick (quick pans and running trips not-withheld) . Oh and did I mention the chuck-wills-widow? This bird is like a whip-poor-will on steroids. Get two of them going at once and you really do have something special!
When that first autumn finally arrived, and the last katydid had silenced its mesmerizing tune, the world did go quiet for a bit, and I found it to be too much. So much so, in fact, that these days we all bend our ears for the first spring peepers and check each night for the familiar 'Chuck-Wills-Widow, Chuck-Wills-Widow,' which seems to at first arrive very small and far away; growing a little closer over the following nights. This past week the bird finally materialized and this time, it brought a competitor who can match 'our' little nightjar, note-for-note. We sure are glad. As it turns out, 'the quiet' is very overrated.


Glen said...

Great capture of the Chuck Will's Widow! Nocturnal *and* camouflaged. I've never even seen one, no less photographed one.

Hugh said...

Yes, it's amazing (and loud) the ways that nocturnal things have come up with to find each other. The sun goes down and the chorus goes up. I'm envious of your din-- and love the picture of the Chuck-wills-widow!

clay bolt said...

I found this bird by accident although I had been dreaming of photographing one for quite a while. I was making an image of a salamander in one spot for about fifteen minutes when I quickly stood up and flushed the bird out the leaf-litter. It was sitting only about 7 feet away from me and I never saw it! I watched it fly and land 3 times before I could actually pin-point its location and make a few photos. I was surprised at how large it actually was. The wing span is around 24" and it cuts through the forest like a boomerang when it flies. Amazing!