Ever taken a walk (or a nap) in the Lower Arb when the sun is down and the moon glares bright? The woods, steeped in milky mist spiked with moonlight, slumber in the absence of the scorching sun that has been bothering us for the past week. Nevertheless, plenty of activities are going on in the liquor-esque night.
Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) and Cope’s Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) are in the height of their breeding season. Standing above Kettle Hole Marsh or Turtle Pond, you can appreciate the boiling chorus of the two species: the higher-pitched, liquid gurgles of the Gray Treefrog, and the harsher croaks of the Cope’s Gray Treefrogs. A few weeks earlier, Western Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) would have been the leading vocalists. Beneath the overwhelming calls of treefrogs, you can also hear the prolonged creaks of American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus).
At dusk, Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) agilely sweep over treetops on their long, tapered wings to feed on swarming insects. Barred Owls (Strix varia) hoot in the distance: “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”. American Woodcocks (Scolopax minor) occasionally skitter across the trail or let out a buzzy “peent” under the cover of prairie grass. The males perform a high, spiraling flight accompanied by a chirpy song as their courtship display.
If you walk quietly enough, you might also run into White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) out foraging with their fawns.
As the full moon approaches its zenith, it is high time we leave the stage to the nocturnals.