24 September 2017 Rockport, Maine, USA 

Winter’s return

Friday, January 29th, 2010
American robin, Camden, Maine, 29 January 2010.

American robin.

More than just a dusting of fine snow had fallen overnight, I saw when I first peered out a window: a good three inches covered everything. Blue sky hung all over the place. Temperatures in the mid-teens (F). I’m not sure it ever got to 20 degrees all day, in fact—a day of fickle but powerful gusts of wind that swept miniature drifts across Route 1, sent fountains of snow off rooftops, chilled bone.

Mallard pair, Camden Harbor, Camden, Maine, 29 January 2010.

Mallard pair.

I didn’t shovel the snow this morning—I took a pushbroom to it. Long-sleeved undershirt, warm overshirt, hooded sweatshirt, and winter parka, and still the icy wind found its way down my collar and threatened to take my hat off. As I swept below them, six crows crows sat clustered together in two pairs of three in the bare limbs of an oak. A jay hollered from the hillside. And the percussive chirps of a house sparrow blared like a string of F-words from across Route 1 somewhere. First member of that species I’d heard around here since summer.

Later I looked up from my desk to see a male cardinal flit into some lilac branches across the parking lot. First cardinal I’d seen this year.

Had a nice lunch with old friends in Camden. The restaurant had good heat. Afterward, I carried my camera down to the public landing to check the waning tide. Schooners hibernated under their tight white shrink-wrap. The wind whipped and whirled. Thanks to our recent rain and thaw, great white churning volumes of water thundered furiously over the ordinarily diaphanous Megunticook River falls. In a pool nearby, a pair of tame mallards dabbled obliviously about.

Megunticook River falls, Camden Harbor, Camden, Maine, 29 January 2010.

Megunticook River falls, Camden Harbor, Camden, Maine, 29 January 2010.

At the head of the harbor, a crow and herring gull dined together on a tidal flat. Out toward Curtis Island, other gulls dropped mussels and urchins onto the wooden surfaces of floats rocking in the chop. The floats were littered with detritus. Then I saw a small bird fly over and into a tangle of stems near the falls: a solitary robin, its tailfeathers fluffed by the wind. I got its photo among a spray of red berries, likely objects of its attention.

I didn’t stay long in the wind and cold and spent most of the rest of the day indoors. But tonight I stepped out onto the creaking deck for a glimpse at the near, full moon. And just inches away hung the red speck of Mars—a dream-provoking pair.

Today’s List

American crow
Blue jay
House sparrow
Northern cardinal
Herring gull
Mallard
American robin
European starling
Rock pigeon

Outer harbor, Camden, Maine, 29 January 2010.

Outer harbor, Camden, Maine.

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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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