On Tuesday August 25th, about 15 members and guests of the Little Red River Audubon Society met at South Fork Nature Center for a sunset walk, program, and picnic. It was an unusually cool evening, and as guests arrived at the cabin, there were no insect songs…only the sound of deep woods silence, the sound of late August, so different from the evening 10 days ago.
Joyce Hartmann again gave the short program on insect sounds, and passed around the book “The Songs of Insects,” by Elliott and Hershberger, with its accompanying CD, and recommended online sites such as www.songsofinsects.com for insect identification. One audience member summarized, “It’s all about sex,” as the group learned the songs were all males calling to females.
The group heard a Summer Tanager scolding them, and saw bats chasing insects in the overhead clearing. Joyce played owl sounds so that members could recognize and identify any that they heard. After she played the Screech Owl calls, two Screech Owls answered, calling back and forth to each other on opposite sides of the peninsula. (No one would have heard them if the insects had been singing loudly as they were just 10 days ago.)
Photos: Don Culwell
After the program, Bob Hartmann led the group in a sunset walk, showing them the milkweed plantings to help the monarch butterfly population and the sawmill operation designed to produce usable fence posts and boards using local timber. While walking, the group heard the Dusk-singing Cicada which gave way at nightfall to loud choruses of Katydids and Crickets, singing slowly due to the cooler temperature.
Back at the cabin, Joyce played songs by Almeda Riddle. A nearly full moon provided light, along with the campfire and a lantern. Members enjoyed a potluck and roasted hot dogs and s’mores. The coals were perfect and the fire felt good in the chill of the evening.
What will the night sounds be like each month? Be sure to go outside and listen…