Birding at My Place

Birding at My Place
My favorite pastime is enjoying the birds of my one acre paradise in southeastern Arizona.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Insomnia Has Its Benefits

It is not unusual for me to wake in the middle of the night. Sometimes I cannot easily get back to sleep. Depending on the situation, this is not necessarily wasted time.

When we spent a week in Costa Rica ten years ago, insomnia at 3 am rewarded me with an outstanding meteor shower and the sound of rays jumping out of the ocean and slapping back down in the water. A year and a half ago, almost daily stress-induced insomnia at 3:30 am allowed me to complete all the work necessary to get our house set up for my mother-in-law to move in so we could be her caregivers. This morning, though, may take the cake when it comes to a good pay-off for being wide awake before dawn.

When I woke at almost 10 minutes before 4 am, I was not unhappy. I'd hoped to get up early enough to listen for our local Great Horned Owl so I could add the bird to this month's yard list. After taking care of the dog, I went back outside with the lights out to listen. It was blessedly quiet with none of the neighborhood dogs, roosters, or donkey making a bit of noise. I waited as one car passed by in the distance and then puzzled over the bright light shining in my eyes.

As I tried to figure out why a helicopter would be flying straight towards me with a spotlight on - although there was no noise, the light exploded into a starburst and fell. In those couple of seconds, my brain registered that I had just seen a meteor fireball! There continued to be a bright vertical line on the horizon although I wasn't sure what I was seeing after being blinded by the bright light. I had time to run inside and grab my binocular so that I could confirm that I wasn't imagining it. There was indeed a smoke trail from the fireball.

I watched for a couple more minutes to see if there were any other meteors but saw nothing. I checked the back yard for owls and heard one almost immediately. After listening for a couple more minutes, time enough to hear the Vermilion Flycatcher and a Northern Mockingbird singing, I checked the sky again to the north. Amazingly, ten minutes after the fireball, smoke still lingered in the air, albeit beginning to disperse.

It's not a bad morning when you get to make a report to a meteor sighting website as well as to eBird.