Birds, Bats, and Fish

The morning temperatures have crept back up towards 70°, and we’ve been having some rain from the hurricane. So there has been a somewhat muggy feel in the air. The rain has not been as heavy has I expected, given a slow-moving storm making landfall in the Gulf. In all, things have a late summer feel, with the yellow jackets getting more aggressive and some migrating wildfowl starting to come through.

There was a beautiful, unusually bright sunrise this morning, perhaps in anticipation of the Blue Moon tomorrow night. We don’t have much of a view to the east, so the sunrise is not really an event at our place. Usually, it’s more watching the mist shifting in the valley and over toward North Carolina as the sun comes up behind the mountain. But this morning, the entire eastern sky was lit up in a very startling way. I hope the rain holds off tomorrow night so we can enjoy the full moon and listen to the night noises.

We saw the whole Indigo Bunting family the other night, feeding on the ground. That’s the first time I can ever remember seeing the immature birds, and I’ve rarely seen the female. I hadn’t heard the male calling, so I assumed that he had departed. Obviously wrong, as I often am when it comes to bird behavior.

A few days ago, there was an interesting “Georgia Wild: News of Non-Game and Natural Habitats” email from the DNR about a bat study on Rich Mountain. A rare Indiana bat was seen in the area, which raised hopes of discovering a maternal site like the one that was recently discovered in Alabama. Apparently, there haven’t been many of these bats seen this far south in their range since the 1960s. A few nights of study failed to net an Indiana bat, but big brown bats, eastern red bats, little brown bats, evening bats, and northern long-eared bats were netted. That’s about four more species of bats than I thought we had. We see a pair of bats almost every night and occasional mornings, and I’ve been assuming they were little brown bats. I’ll have to pay a little more attention to see if I can confirm that identification.

I attended a recent Trout Unlimited monthly meeting, which featured a naturalist from Smithgall Woods talking on aquatic insects relevant to trout fishing and conservation. It was a very interesting talk on a subject I know very little about. I hadn’t really given much thought to the life cycle of insects like stoneflies, which live most of their lives under a rock in the water and then hatch out with wings and leave the water for a short period of mating and flight. By the way, we have a very active chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the monthly meetings are open to the public. I’m not a very avid fisherman, but I realized a while ago that – at least in the local context – Trout Unlimited is a subversive organization, dedicated as it is to conservation and preservation of trout habitat. There’s a lot going on in the chapter – a lot of good educational and volunteer programs – and I urge you to check it out if you have any interest in this kind of fishing.

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