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October 9th 2009

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    Counted eight Bluebird on the electric lines.  In the sky beyond was a single Chimney Swift.  More exciting though were two Nightjars, flying toward the South, one calling to the other.  They must spend their days over the hill beyond the river, because their evening habit is to pass silently over our ground flying toward the North.

    When I was young there was sometimes a noise at night, that could curdle blood and send grown men running for weaponry.  The noise, I was told, with that pat on the head, came from a "Smallish Owl", and was not to be feared.  

    Then in the tree outside the room where I slept, amongst the ripening Guava I heard what sounded like the flapping of giant wings, followed by the sound of large teeth feeding on Guava.  The "Smallish Owl" chose that dark moment to utter.  It did so several times.  

    In the morning I discovered I had been made ashen by Fruit Bats.  And this time there was no pat on the head, rather there was an instruction to next time chase the Fruit Bats away, or catch one, because apparently they are easily netted and more delicious than Guava.

   

 

    The delight I felt this morning at seeing Nightjars, so clearly in the good light, came from the complete view I had of their flight.  In the evening I only see them as moving twigs in the sky.  I see their path which is usually a jig-jag and I know they are feeding in the cloud of flying insects that must be up there, but which I have never seen.  Northward they fly and every time I see them I wonder if I will ever see them again.

    The Nightjar we see here in Kentucky is a Whippoorwill.  Its call can disturb the sleep, but has no content within it that curdles blood.  When I see these Nightjars in the evening, I think of Fruit Bats and "Smallish Owls".  Now that I have seen them in daylight, I have that sense we know each other better.

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tim candler

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