20 April 2014 Rockport, Maine, USA 
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Posts Tagged ‘blue jay’

Saw a deer

Saturday, April 19th, 2014
Hermit Thrush, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 19 April 2014.

Hermit Thrush.

April is certainly a month of change. Days of cold and snow, days of warmth, days of wind, of rain. Early birds arrive before the new hardwood leaves to get a jump on things. Motion, growth, surge. Today was overcast and damp at first, but the sky soon turned into a quick-moving parade of white clouds—and the moving shadows that go along with such a sky.

Slept in a little. Worked a little. Hit Beech hill with dog in late morning.

Inland Hills, from Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 19 April 2014.

Inland Hills.

We met a fairly high wind, actually. And the clouds were absolutely screaming across the sky, moving from the west. Sweeping across the landscape were great dark swaths and great light swaths, one after the other. It seemed to me like some kind of sky dance.

Did get fairly close to a Hermit Thrush. And saw a solitary Kestrel in the long oak tree. Ran into a young family hiking through the woods.

Also saw a deer.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 11 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Black-capped Chickadee*
2. American Robin*
3. Eastern Phoebe
4. American Goldfinch
5. White-throated Sparrow (v)
6. Hermit Thrush
7. American Crow*
8. Song sparrow**
9. Herring Gull*
10. House Finch (v)
11. Brown-headed Cowbird (v)
12. Blue Jay (v)
13. American Kestrel
14. Northern Flicker (v)
15. Pileated Woodpecker (v)
16. Northern Cardinal** (v)


17. House Sparrow (v)
18. Mallard
19. Rock Pigeon
20. Mourning Dove

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere


Genetic memory

Friday, April 18th, 2014
Eastern Phoebe, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 18 April 2014.

Eastern Phoebe.

I found a BB on the Beech Hill trail this early morning. One of those newfangled plastic ones that I was unfamiliar with until I’d collected maybe two dozen a couple-three years ago from the same trail, left there by someone aiming at something, I presume. My initial hope, naturally, is that they weren’t aiming at birds—or any wildlife, really—but I suspect that’s too much to hope for. The BB I found today was bright green.

Fox Sparrow, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 18 April 2014.

Fox Sparrow.

When I’m walking the trail with dog, just the two of us, all my senses (usually) focused outward, on the lookout (and listenout) for wild birds whose photos I might take, it’s a lot like hunting, I’ve often thought. The pastime involves stalking, keeping silent, creeping toward something that wants no part of you. The object of the pursuit might be different—capturing an image, a portrait, a memory, a sort of snippet of a bird’s soul, as opposed to its life and blood and body—but the motions are pretty much the same ones humans have used for millennia. So, I think, are the emotions: the dejection of missing a “sitting duck” target, the thrill of a rare capture. It’s something built into me, built into us, the BB gun person and me.

Once when I was a kid I shot a Red-Winged Blackbird out of the air with a friend’s BB rifle. The old kind, with steel alloy BBs. We were sitting in his treehouse. I hadn’t even aimed. I was horrified when the bird dropped, mid-flight, and flapped around on the grass a while before dying. The joy of a decent photo sure beats the guilt I felt that day.

Today’s photos weren’t all that great, but I did manage a confirmation shot of a fox sparrow, one of a pair I encountered perched high in a bare tree. They’re about a month later than a couple years ago, when a little cluster arrived in mid-March and hung around a while.

Again we came upon several woodpecker species, including a calling, drumming, fiery-crested sapsucker. That’s the first time I’d heard a sapsucker’s drum, in my recollection. It’s got a cool sort of syncopated beat.

Poplar catkins, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 18 April 2014.

Poplar catkins.

Twenty-seven species in all this morning—a frosty morning, but calm. The towhees are returning in numbers now and have—like the Savannah sparrows—begun to sing.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 7 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Eastern Phoebe*
2. Hermit Thrush
3. Northern Cardinal**
4. American Robin*
5. Mourning Dove
6. Black-capped Chickadee*
7. Brown-headed Cowbird
8. American Goldfinch (v)
9. American Crow*
10. Herring Gull*
11. Eastern Towhee
12. Song Sparrow*
13. Common Raven (v)
14. Northern Flicker (v)
15. White-throated Sparrow (v)
16, Blue Jay (v)
17. Pileated Woodpecker
18. Chipping Sparrow†
19. Red-winged Blackbird
20. White-breasted Nuthatch* (v)
21. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
22. Hairy Woodpecker
23. Downy Woodpecker
24. Dark-eyed Junco
25. House Finch** (v)
26. Savannah Sparrow
27. Fox Sparrow


28. Rock Pigeon

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
*Voice only elsewhere
†First-of-year bird


Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Red-bellied Woodpecker (female), Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 15 April 2015.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female).

For some reason I awoke in the wee hours. Decided to pad on out to the back deck to take a look at the moon, what with the eclipse and all. I wandered out there (naked) and found the moon up there in the oak trees, fuzzy with haze. It’s bright surface was about two-thirds obscured by the earth. I tried to take a couple photos, but that was pretty useless, so I went back to bed.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (male), Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 15 April 2015.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (male), Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 15 April 2015.

This morning was overcast and breezy and damp-looking, and rain was in the forecast, so I hauled Jack up to Beech Hill first thing. Mild temps but dark in the woods—not great for photos. But the birds were quiet. Well, except for a cardinal and a first-of-year-singing Hermit Thrush. As we approached the summit, I heard, off in the wind, the song of a towhee. First of many this year. Also a first of many singing Savannah Sparrows up there. (Second Savannah so far.)

Down by the Beech Hill Road parking lot, things were more active: many voices, including a flicker. A foreshadowing of things to come.

Because back down in the woods, when I heard the call of a Downy Woodpecker, I saw that we’d entered a little cluster of birds. Chickadees and nuthatches, Hermit Thrushes—and the little Downy. But I spotted other woodpeckers, too, and decided to turn my binocs on one. It was a sapsucker, first of the year (and only the second I’ve ever seen up there). Within seconds, another woodpecker appeared very near us: a female red-bellied. First I’ve seen on the hill since last year (and only about the sixth ever, I’m guessing). Soon after, I noticed the male of what I assumed to be a mating pair.

No Hairy or Pileated on today’s list, but those latter two make up for it, that’s for sure.

Eastern phoebe, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 15 April 2015.

Eastern phoebe.

Surprisingly, I ended up with twenty-five species on my list this dim, misty morning. I’m already imagining what the (rainy?) morning might bring.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 7:45 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. White-breasted Nuthatch
2. American Robin
3. American Crow* (v)
4. Herring Gull* (v)
5. Blue Jay (v)
6. Northern Cardinal**
7. Hermit Thrush
8. Song Sparrow**
9. Eastern Towhee† (v)
10. Savannah Sparrow (v)
11. Eastern Phoebe**
12. American Goldfinch (v)
13. House Finch** (v)
14. Dark-eyed Junco (v)
15. Northern Flicker (v)
16. Mourning Dove (v)
17. White-throated Sparrow (v)
18. Black-capped Chickadee**
19. Downy Woodpecker
20. Brown Creeper (v)
21. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker†
22. Red-bellied Woodpecker†
23. Osprey* (v)
24. Tufted Titmouse
25. Golden-crowned Kinglet


26. House Sparrow (v)
27. Red-tailed Hawk

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere
†First-of-year bird


Bird Report is an intermittent record of what's outside my window in Rockport, Maine, USA (44°08'N latitude, 69°06'W longitude), and vicinity. —Brian Willson

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