The fine, warm days of summer at Nahant Marsh seemed to stretch in endless perfection, full of sun, full of fish, full of prairies bursting with flowers and seeds. But all summer the light has been arriving a few minutes later and departing a few minutes earlier. The tipping point to autumn has come, and the dark will now outlast the daylight. A few minutes more of night will be added each day forward.
The change is slow and subtle. The days are still so fine and warm, who would notice just a few minutes less light? Yet the change is undeniable. The gold of this year’s autumn is already peeking out from under the veil of this year’s green. Already the nights have been cool, even chilly. A reminder of cold nights to come.
In these fine, warm days, a great many birds have been coming to the marsh. Not all of them are youngsters raised at Nahant, there are far too many for them to have all been born here. They come for the food and rest. They come singly, in pairs, in flocks to stay awhile then depart. The migration along the Mississippi flyway has begun. What you will see at any given time is hard to say, and can change daily, even hourly.
This year’s babies have grown into adult size and learned intricacies of flight and food catching. Swallows and swifts fly dizzying acrobatics over the water snatching insects out of the air. A young heron who caught a fish too large to swallow quickly, took his prize into cover, where he could maneuver it into swallowing position with less chance of being noticed by potential thieves.
These are fine, warm days, with bluebird skies and heat still in the forecast. But the tipping point has come, and a few minutes at a time, dark will take the daylight. Soak up the warm and light while you can, and keep an eye out for bird travelers making their rest stop at Nahant Marsh.