Since early Spring I’ve been teasing you with tidbits about the beautiful barn swallows that inhabit the Ecorse Creek by the footbridge.
For months, nearly every day when I’d pass by, they would be dipping and gliding around the dense brush or reeds, or flitting from tree to tree all along the Creek banks. I made it my mission that I would capture a still shot of at least one of them before Summer’s end. They seemingly never stand still in their relentless search for insects.
But, just like the waterfowl that have gone missing, the past few weeks the barn swallows have been absent as well. So, I have dug up my photos taken through the course of the Spring and Summer and picked the best of the bunch, albeit a bit blurry, for today’s blog post.
When I first encountered these pretty indigo-blue birds, with their peachy-colored bellies and long scissor-like tails, it was because they frequently dive bombed me as I paused on the footbridge to glance out over the water. After all, this was their domain – the place where a flock of swallows would relentlessly fly in every direction, hoping to scope out, and then grab, flying insects to feed on. I spent a lot of time watching them as they’d nab their prey, then momentarily return to a tree branch to eat that insect, before going out foraging for food once again.
I have probably whiled away two or three hours altogether, just watching, and waiting, for the perfect photo op, but … alas, they are much too quick for me, that is, until I had the good luck to capture the antics of one who strayed from the rest, and took a breather all by himself, thus the two photos above.
I knew they were swallows from the get-go, but I wasn’t sure the exact type of swallow until I Googled “images of swallows”. Of course, had I not been so lazy, I would have gone downstairs, and, at the very bottom of my desk drawer, I would have located my “Audubon Land Bird Guide”, the first hard-cover book I ever owned. It has an orangey-red and white dust jacket with illustrations of various native birds. The cover has become tattered and taken on an almost vintage-look through the years and the pages have similarly developed a yellowish tinge. There are still pieces of loose-leaf paper, torn in raggedy strips, that were used as markers for various birds I came upon and viewed with my binoculars, back when I was a young “birder”.
So, now I wonder where these little beauties have disappeared to, because, they did delight me with their energy and delicate, almost tinny, birdcalls. If you want to see a sharper image of them, or listen to their birdsong, here is a link to do so: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/sounds
When I took a tour along the California coastline back in the Fall of 1980, one of the tourist attractions we visited was the Mission San Juan Capistrano. It was a very old stone mission, made famous not only by its history and architecture, as well as its beautiful grounds, but, also because every March 19th, St. Joseph’s Day, the swallows return en masse to the Mission. The arrival of the swallows like clockwork encourages visitors from around the world to congregate there on that very day to witness the miracle. The swallows then build their nests right onto the cracks and crevices of the Mission walls and raise their young until all take flight again on October 23rd, an event known as the “Day of San Juan”. I visited there in mid-October and saw many of the swallows that were nesting there and flying about, but I think the en masse arrival or departure would be a sight to behold, and, I wish I could have witnessed it.
Although I have been patient while hoping to get the perfect photo of the Ecorse Creek swallows, today I decided that the barn swallows at the borderline of Lincoln Park and Wyandotte have found another venue to delight onlookers. So, just like the faithful who annually gather at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, I will look for these beautiful winged creatures again next year.
It is awesome to behold Nature’s wonderment, though sometimes it is but a fleeting moment in time.
Today’s trip down Emmons Boulevard and one lap around Memorial Park netted five miles. It was such a beautiful day, and, there will be a third beautiful day tomorrow to conclude this Labor Day holiday weekend.
It was an equally beautiful weather day at the Vatican where Mother Teresa was canonized by Pope Francis today. For years, when I generated a daily “Thought for Today” for friends and co-workers, I often included many of her profound quotations … below is one I especially liked:
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta