I'm used to the sparrows and finches scattering to the four winds whenever I walk through the yard. So I wasn't exactly startled when I was walking out to the mailbox this afternoon and heard a great thundering of wings over my right shoulder. Then I saw the shadow, and it wasn't a songbird of any kind.
A gigantic, ugly, red-faced turkey vulture had been sitting on the fence that lines my driveway. I don't know why I didn't see it, but it might have been because I had my eyes on the ground to make sure I didn't step on any snakes. I shouldn't have been surprised, because the buzzards were all over the sky today.
What did get my intense attention was that the buzzard circled all around me at a low angle before taking off. I felt as if I were being sized up, but I'm not sure for what. I've never felt threatened by the buzzards, but I've never had one airborne quite that close to me, either. It was definitely trippy.
During these hot August afternoons, it isn't just the birds that disappear from sight whenever they sense my presence. More lizards than ever are around the grounds here, scampering here and there. They either freeze in place or run for cover as soon as I open the front door, but sometimes I can stand very still and see them playing tag with each other. I've seen one lizard run up the tail of another and launch itself from the other's head, then race around to do it again.
The moths and other flying insects that I don't even notice most of the time seem to be everywhere as soon as I'm out watering the garden in the evenings. They don't like being sprayed with the hose, and I can see them zipping around to stay dry.
That isn't the case with the swallows, because they never come close enough. I like being outside watering in the late afternoon, though, in the long shadows just before the sun goes down. That's when the swallows perform their air show, swooping and soaring and every so often sailing by the arc of water coming from the hose, checking things out. I try to accommodate them by shooting a spray into the air for their amusement.