One of the most mind boggling aspects of the natural world is migration. Whether it be Monarch butterflies or humpback whales, it is pretty amazing that these creatures, not only make these treks more than once a year, but that they somehow know exactly when and where to go. And now that I am a mother who has made several long road trips with kids in tow, I have an even greater appreciation for the idea of traveling great distances without any of our human luxuries of cupholders, GPS, or audio books to counter the inevitable question of "Are we there yet?". Seriously, those massive "road trips" aka migration are pretty darn impressive!
A few weeks ago while camping, we stumbled upon a large gathering of white storks and black storks who were resting on their long journey between Northern Europe and Africa. It was truly awe-inspiring. Lots of large, very large birds gathered along the beach and occasionally rising as a speckled cloud of feathers to find a better spot along the beach.... it's one of those experiences we will never forget and yet it is just part of their natural rythm. A journey that happens over and over again with all of its exhausting and risky moments.
Moving to a new part of the world means we are slowly acclimating to not only a new culture, but also new signs of changing seasons. And as our mornings are staring to get chillier, I have noticed that we are no longer greeted by the house martins swooping and chirping by our bedroom windows. They spend the summers in Sicily building mud nests under our eaves and taking care of lots of babies, but as the days become shorter and cooler, they join the storks in heading south to Africa for the winter months. For us, their departure is a seasonal marker; for them, it is part of their survival and shapes the course of their existence (when and where to breed, feeding patterns, etc).
What animals are traveling to/from/or through your part of the world at this time of year? Wouldn't it be fun to have some kind of map to track Magnifying Glass sightings? I am not savvy enough to create that, but please share your migratory observations in the comments section. I am very excited about our new Gifts from Nature series and wish there was some way to bottle up our recent stork sightings and give those to friends and family as holiday gifts, because those moments in the natural world are the gifts that really stay with us forever, aren't they?
Want to learn more about migration? Here are a few of our favorite resources on the topic:
Winged Migration: this French documentary is truly a spectatular piece of work and I find myself not only in awe of the birds that traverse hundreds of miles, but also the film crews that follow these journeys. The companion book is also wonderful.
Bird, Butterfly, Eel: a fabulous picture book.
The National Park Service Notes on Migration: Nice, concise discussion about migration
Animals on the Move: A very thorough reading list
World on the Move: Check out this cool BBC site complete with maps and podcasts