Thursday, July 28, 2011
Yes, it could be out of a Hitchcock movie. But, some of the coolest wildlife spectacles don't always happen in the outback. Sometimes they are in the middle of the city. In this case Wichita. For several years now, Purple Martins, gathering from points far and wide, have been congregating at the Via Christi parking lot, along with local birders, at dusk this time of year. They are staging, gathering in large groups for the start of their long journey south for the winter. (These birds give us hope that this summer will be over someday!) I happened to catch this impressive show last night and hoped to give you a feel for the numbers and noise of the event. Typically, to see such large flocks of songbirds, one would have to wait until winter when the millions of Red-winged Blackbirds concentrate in places such as Cheyenne Bottoms as they have in the past. European Starlings can also demonstrate in some pretty impressive numbers and often in consort with blackbirds. But, to see tens of thousands of Purple Martins as they circle to roost in the tree row on the east edge of that parking lot is truly fascinating---and quite noisy. Its heartening to see so many since the species had been dealt crushing blows several years ago from a very cool spring after they had arrived from winter migration. Looks like they are rebounding in fine shape at least for this population.