Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sounds of Summer Nights

It's May Day, which is more or less the beginning of summer for me. While spring is marked by the blooming of wildflowers, summer I associate more with sounds. Not that I didn't appreciate the profusion of Indian Blanket replacing the bluebonnets along the sides of the trail during our evening walk through Prospect Park last night, but what I really noticed were the sounds of nocturnal creatures who have turned their minds towards love as the nights warm.

Of course, one hardly ever actually sees the performer, but I hunted down some pictures for you along with the sounds so you can put a face with it.

Hiking down the trail, we were surrounded by the tiny little peeps of Cliff Chirping Frogs who perch in limestone cracks and crevices in the Hill Country.

Hiking towards the ponds, we started to hear the much larger, and louder Southern Leopard Frogs. They sound much louder in person than they do in that recording. They almost sound like they're chuckling at us!

Soon the frogs were joined by some avian accompaniment.

I'm actually really excited to hear one of my favorite summer nighttime sounds, the haunting song of the Chuck Will's Widow. These strange-looking birds are close cousins of the Whip-Poor-Will, but while their better known relatives migrate further north before settling down to breed, Chuck-Will's-Widows spend their summers right here.

Finally, what's nighttime without owls? On the way home, walking through our neighborhood, we were delighted to hear the cutest owl we have.

Eastern Screech Owls make kind of an eerie sound as well. I remember trying to go to sleep on several camping trips, sweating on top of my sleeping bag, listening to dueling screech owls calling across the forest.

So there you have it, the sounds of summer have arrived. The only thing that's left are the cicadas, and they don't show up until things get REALLY hot. Maybe there's a reason why the best summer singers are also nocturnal.

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