The first Purple Martins, considered rare here before mid-May, towards sunset swoop over the patio of David & Pearl’s burrito-wagon-home-home-on-the-range nestled in its arroyo just north of Pool Wash, but none have been seen at Mason’s yet, nor have their metallic calls drifted down to my ears there from birds high unseen.
A few Lesser Nighthawks appear of a sudden at The Stockpond as dark comes on, a bird that always makes one feel happy seeing return from Mexico. Though a bug-hatch is going on, they are not just “hawking” insects–they approach the water surface with great delicacy, appear to land on the water for the briefest moment, and they drink. Many swallows join them, one following after another in orderly file, swiping the water for a few inches with bills dipped and open. Later, almost dark, come the bats, who slow as they approach the pond’s surface now a mirror of the last pink of day set in a darkened bosque. The bats make the slightest of curtsies just above the water after they come almost to a gravity-defying stop and are suspended above the surface, drop their heads, take a sip, then are quickly off over the far bank. The cattle for whom this pond owes its existence have drunk their fill and gone back out to graze. The night comes on warm and soft, and continues full of the rustle of wings avian and mammal (who can tell how many of the 28 species of bat that live in Arizona fly above these pastures and pond?) at this only open water for quite a distance around. The greenery adds its humid fragrance to the tangy odors coming up from the water, dust blowing in from here to Mojave, of algae starting to grow and rushes poking up through the slime, minerals in water brought from 30 feet below ground, and my nose takes in something unchanged since long before humankind ever existed: briny, something untellable, ancient, a broth that sparked life.