A Stealthy Addition

Sorry folks, it is has been a few days since my last post.  I’ve been trying to get caught up on my yardwork and other “list” items that are way overdue thanks to having my civil liberties forcibly restricted by my elected government.  Word out today is I now have 5 more weeks of this to look forward to per my tax evading governor of my broke state.  I was doing pretty good thanks to my self-imposed news isolation, but I walked into the house today after a refreshing run and Linda had the governor’s propaganda machine churning away on the TV.  Just in the brief amount of time it took me to walk to the shower I had heard enough to get the blood boiling again.  Thanks to a nice shower I was able to calm down and get back to my happy place.  The same thing happened after my trail run last Sunday.  Got back into the truck after a quick cool down and started for home as I searched for a song to accompany my great mood – then it happened – landed on one of my previous go-to news outlets only to hear a reporter ask the most asinine question I’ve ever heard.  Quickly continued with the surfing, but the damage was done.  The whole time home I could only ponder on the idiocy of a so called reporter that I completely forgot to enjoy my major accomplishment.  After 2 solid months of working my ass off in rehab, multiple visits to my chiro and dropping incredible amounts of sweat in my home gym – I was flying high.

Common Nighthawk found in Peoria Heights IL, June 2017

Well, maybe not so much flying high as our feathered friend above has the incredible ability to do, but nonetheless, I was back from the abyss.  My back had held together for 9 grueling miles filled with steep hills, dirt, mud, roots and everything else that forest could throw at me.  The heel even decided to settle down quickly after the run.  I was officially at the same point I was in my training before the back blew and the heel figured out it was fun to produce stabbing pain.  The trail lungs still need some work and I have a virtual half marathon at the end of the month to make up for a race that was canceled (complete the mileage, send in proof and they will send you the swag).  Talk about a great feeling – a feeling that reminded me of when I spotted this Common Nighthawk soaring overhead.  We had gone into Peoria Heights for a treat at our favorite ice cream shop back in June 2016 just around dusk.  We were met with a high pitched “peent” as we exited the car.

Common Nighthawk found in Peoria Heights IL, June 2017

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of this sky forager.

That sound I knew very well thanks to previous research the first time I had heard that sound outside a Walmart – pitch black out and all I could hear was that sound fading in and out as I stood straining trying to make something out that would give a clue to its emitter.  If you want some fun, try matching a bird up to a sound you hear without using any of the new fangled tools that can match sound spectrums  to species.  I know Ron is considering a post on his recent discoveries in that area, so will leave that topic alone for now (for those still curious – Ron is not I and I is not Ron as I am …. Batman).  Trust dear readers, I’ve been nagging him every chance I get to make a post – stubborn that one.   Anyway, after some serious page flipping and listening to sound clips learned that the high pitched “peent” was from the Nighthawk.  Then the taunting started.  Go to Menards after dark – peeent peeent peeeent – look to the skies and nothing.  Go to Walmart, go to a restaurant in town, go late to a local park – more peeent peeent peeeent peeeent – like the tell-tale heart driving me nuts.  The ears knew it was there, but the eyes were unable to pierce the darkness to get a visual on a live specimen.  More disappointing was knowing that if I did manage to track it, forget about getting any pictures of it.  (Note, Ron and I do have shots of one that was sleeping on a telephone wire in a Burger King parking lot – need to find that and get it posted before Ron does hehehe.)

Common Nighthawk found in Peoria Heights IL, June 2017

That particular night, the sun was still fighting against the darkness providing just enough high light to reveal the source of the calls.  Reached back into the car, pulled out my travel camera (Nikon D90 with and older 2.8 80-200 glass that I just keep in the car in case of emergencies like this).  Luckily Linda is used to this behavior and delayed her ice cream fix while I struggled to get one of these aerial acrobats in the tin.  This must have been hilarious entertainment for the people hanging out in the parlor patio.  This species can out fly an F18.  Somehow managed to get something that wasn’t just a giant smudge in the middle of a fading blue background.  Finally had a Common Nighthawk in flight to add to the birding list. By the way, these birds look completely different on the wire.  Although not a perfect match, they do look similar to the Common Pauraque (link here).

Common Nighthawk found in Peoria Heights IL, June 2017

These Nighthawks are sometimes referred to Nightjars from their similarities to the Old World variety.  Our naming is a misnomer as these birds are not actually related to Hawks.  Although I have seen them only in darkness up to this point (or sleeping at Burger King), they are supposedly not exclusive to nocturnal foraging occasionally ridding the high skies of insects at dusk and dawn.  It is a cool name so we will let those details slide.  In case you are wondering, there is a Lesser variety that looks very similar.  The easiest way to tell them apart is to look at the relative placement of the white marks on the underwing.  Farther to the elbow (towards the body) you have the Common, if closer to the wingtip (visualize an equilateral triangle at the tip) then you’ve got the Lesser.  I am still hunting for the Lesser variety, but this post officially gives me the +1 for this bird.

Stay well everyone and I highly recommend laying off the sensationalist news for a bit.

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