Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Purple Martin Majesties

When the sun sinks into the treeline, in the long days of mid-to-late August...
the Nimisila Reservoir, just south of Akron ,Ohio is the place to find Purple Martins.

Our guide, Sandy Brown leads us out into gently slapping waters. The wind was a bit more than we had hoped for, and I suspect it was the last breaths of hurricane Irene. Not enough to stop us, but enough to warrant caution with life jackets snugly in place over our coats.

The cattail islands stand alone. Not much to catch your eye during daylight hours, but knowing the magic we were about to witness, they loom huge against our tiny kayaks.

In they come. Hundreds and hundreds of Purple Martins winging their way to a late summer night roost. Purple Martins, the largest of our swallows, are generally found inhabiting boxes and gourds supplied by homeowners and enthusiastic Amish farmers. In the late days of summer, Martins leave their domestic homes and gather en mass for the coming journey.

Swirling and sweeping across the sky, they pour into the cattail reeds. This colony was much larger two weeks ago, but many have already vacated. Skyward, by night for the 5,000 some mile migration to Peru and Brazil.

We silently paddle back to shore, with a smiles spread wide on our faces... and a quiet song in my heart:

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain,

for purple martin majesties,

Above the fruited plain...

At least, that is my way of singing it tonight.


  1. Hi. I loved your pictures, and was also looking to do some kayaking on Nimisila Reservoir. Did you happen to rent your kayak nearby, or did you bring your own? Thanks!

    1. Hi-

      Thanks for the kind words! I used my own Kayak, so I don't know the rental situation in the area. Hope you find one, as it was a wonderful trip.