30 June 2022

Archive for November, 2010


Saturday, November 27th, 2010
Clouds, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 November 2010.


A chilly, sunny day. Crusts of ice lay here and there when I took dog out first thing. The resident red squirrel was his usual fearless self—my hope is that, for all the time he spends leaping onto the roof, he hasn’t found a way into the walls. I mean, yikes.

Clouds, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 November 2010.


We hit the hill early, Jack and I. [Hi, Kristen!] Considering the nice weather, I expected a few humans—and sure enough there were a couple vehicles parked in the lot. We passed a family with small boys ascending. Heard a couple of goldfinches flying over. And then got a good look at the wide, expansive sky. Clear overhead—but in the east, above the ocean, long lumps of cumulus spread like a great pod of white whales. Down the southern slope, a couple crows cawed and chased, then more of the black flappers rose from the eastern field.

We met Lucy, the young Jack Russell terrier, headed down. (Jack and Lucy are friendly by now.) And there was a bit of wind at the summit, as usual. Considering a temperature near freezing, it felt a little chilly to me. Which is to say: invigorating.

But I simply couldn’t keep from watching those oceangoing clouds. Just the sort of clouds a child would find the shapes of animals in, although I saw merely wondrous, bulbous forms of light and shadow.

Earthworm, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 November 2010.


We didn’t linger, circled Beech Nut and headed back down quickly into the western breeze. Just as we were about to meet another little family coming up, I happened to spot a good-sized earthworm squirming along the trail. Talk about unexpected.

Back in the parking lot, I heard another goldfinch flying over—and then the voice of a chickadee. Three bird species on our quick morning hike this morning.

Not a lot else to report. Herring gull and pigeon in town.

Mostly Jack and I stayed home today, keeping watch on the resident squirrels.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 10:45 a.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. American goldfinch (voice)
2. American crow
3. Black-capped chickadee (voice)


4. Herring gull
5. Rock pigeon

Red squirrel, Glen Cove, Rockport, Maine, 27 November 2010.

Red squirrel.

Fascinating landscape

Friday, November 26th, 2010
Island, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 November 2010.


The pattering sound of icy precipitation against my window this early morning convinced me to sleep in. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, after all. Black Friday, so called. I didn’t plan to go anywhere special—a couple brief errands, a hike up Beech Hill.

Smoke, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 November 2010.


The icy precip soon became plain—if cold—rain. Traffic was heavy out there, I noticed from the continual rush of car tires against the pavement of Route 1. By early afternoon, though, the rain had let up. And by mid-afternoon, I thought I noticed a patch or two of blue in the dark-and-light gray sky. We bundled up, Jack and I, and set out.

A solitary vehicle greeted us in the parking lot. The bare trees dripped. A light wind had risen. I heard the laughter of a pileated woodpecker coming from somewhere to the south of us.

Then, as we ascended, I beheld a fascinating landscape: low, very low clouds veiling the inland hills, but a great patch of blue opening directly above Beech Nut. Off toward the ridge and near Chickawaukie Lake, people were burning brush in at least two piles, and the white smoke roiled and curled in the westerly breeze, mingling with the mist and fog. Off in the bay, the islands—what I could see of them beneath the low-hanging cloud-cover—were bathed in sunlight. I’d never quite seen anything like it.

Chickawaukie Lake, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 November 2010.

Chickawaukie Lake.

Jays hollered down the southern slope. And I heard the cry of a flicker.

We met little Lucy in her blaze-orange kerchief, being walked down the hill by her mom. The temperature as we circled Beech Nut couldn’t have been very much above freezing, my hands and fingers told me. The islands floated brightly—incongruously—in the bay.

I thought I might hear crows or chickadees, but not on the hill today. However, I did back home, up the hill. Elsewhere, I heard a cardinal and saw a mourning dove, herring and ring-billed gulls, and a small flock of about a half-dozen wild turkeys crossing busy Route 1, interrupting traffic. The turkeys crossed fast, their necks jutting out and down, and hurried up the wooded driveway of a commercial building. We motorists watched them go as we accelerated up to speed.

Tonight is another clear one. The damp back deck has gone slippery, and Orion is rising.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 2:45 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Pileated woodpecker (voice)
2. Blue jay (voice)
3. Northern flicker (voice)


4. American crow
5. Black-capped chickadee
6. Herring gull
7. Northern cardinal
8. Mourning dove
9. Wild turkey
10. Ring-billed gull

Two islands, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 November 2010.

Two islands.


Thursday, November 25th, 2010
Beech Nut, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 25 November 2010.

Beech Nut.

Thanksgiving Day. Another lovely, sunny, coldish one. But the most obvious difference from yesterday: no wind. At least none that I could see from down here on the shores of Clam Cove. Nary a diehard leaf stirring. This made me think my Beech Hill hike with dog would be a fine one.

That should tell you something about expectations.

Birch, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 25 November 2010.


We took off in mid-morning. Little traffic en route. But then coming up South Street, at the base of the hill, we came upon three or four men in hunter’s-orange caps wrangling a newly killed and bled deer into the bed of a pickup truck. I have to say that gave me a little chill.

The parking lot had several cars in it. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was—mildly so. I pulled Jack’s bright vest over his back and we hit the trail.

Coming around the first little curve I realized that this was not a windless day, after all. In fact, there was quite a little breeze blowing. And it occurred to me then that this day was also a little bit colder than yesterday—possibly even sub-freezing. No birds that I could hear, but the blue sky glowed, and I could see a few wispy clouds hovering high above Beech Nut.

On the trail we met numerous humans and a few canines, Jack and I. The humans tended to occur in groups of individuals of all ages, including juveniles in fluffy insulated suits much like the one worn by the little kid in A Christmas Story. Nearly all the dogs wore orange bandanas.

Bright sea, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 25 November 2010.

Bright sea.

Off in the distant south-southeast, the North Atlantic blazed a brilliant white. On the grassy, wind-whipped summit, a couple bundled children squealed and chased; their parents wished us a happy Thanksgiving, Jack and me. I scanned the far shore through my binoculars, but I saw no gulls flying out there. Lacking foresight, I hadn’t brought gloves. The wind benumbed my fingers.

Descending again, I thought I might’ve heard a crow, but I couldn’t be sure. More gangs of people were climbing the trail. All seemed in good spirits and were particularly full of smiles.

Back at the pickup, I stood quietly for three or four minutes, listening. Didn’t even hear a chickadee.

On the drive back, above Clam Cove, I saw a gull. And back home I did see crows and hear chickadees and the voice of solitary house sparrow across the road. I was thankful for them, and I counted my blessings.

Tonight the stars are bright again, and Jupiter is a pure point in the high south sky. Tomorrow there’s supposed to be a chance of snow.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 10:45 a.m., I hiked the open trail

(No bird species seen today.)


1. American crow
2. House sparrow
3. Herring gull
4. Black-capped chickadee

Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson

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