14 July 2020 Rockport, Maine, USA 

Archive for July, 2010

Fledglings galore

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Eastern phoebe, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 July 2010.

Eastern phoebe.

We hit the hill this day, dog and I, before any other human (or dog). I can attest to this by how many spider webs, and caterpillar webs, and other wisps of invisible silk ended up in my mouth and eyes and arms. The deer flies sure seemed happy to see us also.

Eastern towhee (juvenile), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 July 2010.

Eastern towhee (juvenile).

But what a birdy morning! Sunny, still pretty cool before 7 a.m. The usual species coming up the wooded trail. Then, as soon as we hit the fields, the birds really began to fly. Sparrows, families of them. And so many of waxwings. Flickers bounding through the air. And towhees—dozens of towhees, adult and juvenile, zipping this way and that way from bush to shrub to hedgerow. As we got to the summit and started down, I think my jaw might’ve dropped at how many birds flitted and flowed before us.

At one point I thought to myself that there must be a hundred birds along the trail we were descending. Families of towhees, savannah sparrows, song sparrows, field sparrows, goldfinches, even yellow warblers—scores of them leading us down the slope. I can’t recall ever before seeing so many young birds at one time as I saw today on Beech Hill.

Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 July 2010.

Savannah sparrow.

Of course other species have nested up there, too. Alder flycatchers, clearly. Phoebes. Today I even saw a shivery young blue jay whine loudly for grub from a parent, and also watched the parent oblige. And thrushes are reproducing—robins and hermits and veeries. I neither saw nor heard a veery, but that only means their eggs have hatched.

And still no sign of ovenbirds—also tending to their young.

It was such a thrill to me, and a hard-to-explain one, to be surrounded by such lovely new life. The only thing missing from this lush summer day was an early evening swim in a lake.

Maybe tomorrow.

Yellow warbler (female), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 July 2010.

Yellow warbler (female).

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 6:45 a.m., I walked all trails.

1. Red-eyed vireo
2. Black-capped chickadee (voice)
3. American crow
4. Common yellowthroat
5. Eastern towhee
6. White-throated sparrow
7. American robin
8. American goldfinch
9. Cedar waxwing
10. Gray catbird
11. Chestnut-sided warbler
12. Northern flicker
13. Hermit thrush (voice)
14. Alder flycatcher (voice)
15. Field sparrow (voice)
16. Song sparrow
17. Savannah sparrow
18. Yellow warbler
19. Blue jay
20. Chipping sparrow (voice)
21. Tufted titmouse (voice)
22. Hairy woodpecker (voice)
23. Mourning dove
24. Eastern phoebe
25. Eastern wood-pewee (voice)
26. White-breasted nuthatch
27. Black-throated green warbler (voice)


28. Herring gull
29. House sparrow
30. Northern cardinal

Blackberries, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 July 2010.


Animated day

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Cedar waxwing, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 July 2010.

Cedar waxwing.

This morning’s Beech Hill hike was a lot like yesterday’s, only earlier. And with more (and different) birds. And a little less wind. And the fact that Jack pooped at the very farthest point of our travels instead of at the very beginning.

Cedar waxwings, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 July 2010.

Cedar waxwings.

But despite the gentler breeze, the morning seemed more active, more animated somehow.

In part it was the waxwings. Dozens of them, flying all over the hill. The wooded section, the blueberry fields—they were zipping all over the place like pinballs. I’m sure these were whole families—adults and their 2010 broods, flying and chasing and getting used to the flock. (For waxwings are a flocking bird.) At ever point of our hike this morning I heard that faint, so-high-pitched squee!

And in part it was the lovely male chestnut-sided warbler I happened on at the top of the upper wooded trail. It had a green caterpillar. It was whipping the caterpillar around, slamming it against the branch it sat on. Beating its brains in.

Chestnut-sided warbler, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 July 2010.

Chestnut-sided warbler.

And in part it was alder flycatcher I didn’t quite get a photo of—the one with the big gob of bugs in its beak, that dove into the foliage at our passage yet no doubt eventually found its way to its hatchlings.

And in part it was aerial dogfight I witnessed between a ruby-throated hummingbird and what appeared to be a waxwing. They were a hundred yards away, I bet, and the tiny bird was flying straight and fast at the much larger one, and the larger one was flying away as fast as it could fly. The tiny hummer soon veered away and down into the thicket of green.

And in part it was the little wild turkey family ambling up the wooded slope as we returned—a couple adults and a couple youngsters about one-quarter grown.

A lovely summer day. A day of cicadas. An animated day.

Red-eyed vireo, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 July 2010.

Red-eyed vireo.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 6:45 a.m., I walked all trails.

1. American crow
2. Red-eyed vireo
3. Mourning dove
4. Black-capped chickadee (voice)
5. Eastern towhee
6. Common yellowthroat
7. Cedar waxwing
8. Gray catbird
9. Tufted titmouse (voice)
10. American goldfinch
11. Northern flicker
12. American robin (voice)
13. Chestnut-sided warbler
14. Blue jay (voice)
15. Song sparrow
16. Ruby-throated hummingbird
17. Savannah sparrow
18. Hermit thrush (voice)
19. Yellow warbler (voice)
20. Hairy woodpecker (voice)
21. Barn swallow
22.Downy woodpecker (voice)
23. Eastern phoebe
24. Eastern wood-pewee (voice)
25. White-breasted nuthatch
26. Black-throated green warbler (voice)
27. Wild turkey


28. Herring gull
29. House sparrow
30. Rock pigeon

Thistles, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 July 2010.

Thistles and their entourage.

Fine day

Monday, July 26th, 2010
Eastern phoebe at Beech Nut, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 July 2010.

Eastern phoebe at Beech Nut.

I wish I hadn’t slept a little late this morning, because it was a glorious morning, and I could’ve lingered longer on the hill. Cool (60s (F)), cloudless, dry (for a change), and with a stout west breeze.

Common yellowthroat, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 July 2010.

Common yellowthroat.

I heard the usual birds along the wooded trail at the outset, their voices tending toward alarm notes as opposed to songs. Time flies, after all, and many (most?) nests have already served their purpose by sending young feathered flying things out into the lush, green world. And the parents’ instincts are to feign and fool and lure away from their wide-eyed, fledgling young. Works pretty well, too.

Towhees do it. Yellowthroats and savannah sparrows have been doing it for weeks. Yesterday, an adult field sparrow sure got my attention. The hill’s alder flycatchers sing what I think of as their wet wheat! song—right up until dog and I appear, when they begin their subtle peep! calls. Sounding the alarm.

Cedar waxwing, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 July 2010.

Cedar waxwing.

Waxwing nests, wherever they are, have apparently proved successful. Again this morning I watched dozens of the birds in the air at the summit, fluttering and soaring and diving and veering—acting rather like swallows. I imagine it as sort of a Student Driving School for youngsters of the species. Honestly, they were everywhere.

And coming down the open trail, I heard the voice of a distant angry crow—then saw it in the sky toward Ragged Mountain. It was hollering at a hawk. The hawk was too distant to identify. Probably a red-tail. Or a harrier.

Only four sparrows today. No singing white-throat anywhere on the hill while I was there. But three thrushes (veery and hermit thrush and robin). And the three usual flycatchers.

Perhaps the most intriguing sighting was the comely phoebe sitting on the rock porch wall at Beech Nut, seemingly just enjoying the lovely day.

Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 July 2010.

Savannah sparrow.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 7:30 a.m., I walked all trails.

1. Red-eyed vireo
2. Black-capped chickadee (voice)
3. Eastern towhee
4. Common yellowthroat
5. Chestnut-sided warbler (voice)
6. White-breasted nuthatch
7. American crow
8. Gray catbird
9. Cedar waxwing
10. American goldfinch (voice)
11. American robin (voice)
12. Veery (voice)
13. Alder flycatcher
14. Song sparrow
15. Northern flicker
16. Mourning dove
17. Eastern phoebe
18. Field sparrow (voice)
19. Savannah sparrow
20. Unidentified raptor
21. Chipping sparrow (voice)
22. Eastern wood-pewee (voice)
23. Hermit thrush (voice)


24. Tufted titmouse
25. House sparrow
26. Northern cardinal
27. Herring gull

Miniatures, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 July 2010.


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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