Note: This posting includes audio clips that are actual recordings of animals heard (sometimes also seen) in my backyard. Please click on play buttons to listen.
How do I know it is summer? I could cheat and take a look at the calendar we have hanging in the kitchen. It looks like a big Scrabble board covered with wooden pieces that each have a number painted on them. Some display small portraits that designate a special day like Christmas or Independence Day. It’s so easy to use!
Or, I could just go outside and listen. I’ll begin at the hot tub. I was enjoying a book and beer while lounging in the spa after a tough day of hanging wallboard in the garage. The radio was whaling out some funky Cajun tunes on 90.3. Then I heard something large moving in the woods that border our backyard. It had to be large to be heard over my GE Super Radio with the six-inch speaker. I turned around and stared intently at the dark understory and was just in time to spot a good-sized deer traversing one of the many well-worn wood paths that thread through the mature forest. Usually I will see four or five moving single file. Only one today. Maybe if I had turned around sooner there would have been more.
Later, as dusk was approaching, I took a walk around the yard. What might I come upon tonight? Perhaps another brown fox-like the one caught in the truck headlights one night as I pulled in the drive?
How about another snake – no, the reptiles like full sun to warm in. Then of course there are the rabbits who love to browse the lawn. Last year we had one brown rabbit who visited on a regular basis. He was very nice about posing for pictures once he determined that I was not going to hit him over the head. He did not appear on this day but there was some action around our little fish pond.
The big old leopard frog was back. He just floats at ready all day in one spot. He’s waiting for the unwary insect to do a close flyby over his spring-loaded tongue. Life is good when you are the only frog in the pond. That will change later tonight.
A quick scan of the underbrush,now in the shadow of dusk, reveals numerous orange lights flashing on and off. It is hot and the lightning bugs are responding with their brilliant high-energy bursts. As the light recedes further I begin to hear a pair of owls responding to each other. Clicking the play button below will allow you to hear them too.
One is distant and one sounds close enough to touch. Though they are frequent visitors, I have yet to see one. One very loud summer squatter that I have seen is the gray tree frog. They are beginning their high-pitched call and drowning out most everything else.
Frogs all night
I have found them in the trees, in my fish pond, and even on top of the shed. They refuse to move from whatever perch they settle upon. I have had to scoop them up with a spatula to remove them from the wall of the hot tub. Their orange vicious underbelly and feet stick like silicone sealant to any surface. Tonight they will sing for hours even as my wife and I try to get to sleep.
There is one sound that will rouse even someone who has managed to slumber midst gray tree frogs. I am referring to the fisher cat, a summer night interloper that I prefer to keep my distance from. One of the neighborhood children was attacked by one a few years ago. Another animal that is heard but not seen.
Midnight screech of fisher cat
Well, another day has passed and I find myself in the garage cutting a plywood panel. I’d rather be out on the deck watching and listening. Maybe that’s why a hummingbird just flew into and then out of the garage – time for a break and a long glass of water out on the deck.
Additional photographs (clicking on any photo will reveal enlarged version):