2 April 2020 Rockport, Maine, USA 

Archive for May, 2011

Bluebirds

Saturday, May 28th, 2011
Eastern bluebird (female), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 May 2011.

Eastern bluebird (female).

Another moist day, although quite a bit cooler than yesterday. Light fog. House finch singing, house sparrows flitting about out front, crows in the oaks, the redstart calling out back. Spent most of the day doing desk work to the accompaniment of the former and latter.

About midday I took a quick trip to town, where I saw a few of our more cultured species—pigeons, starlings, grackle, red-winged blackbird—then at the end of the day Jack and I kept our appointment with the Beech Hill trails.

Veery, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 May 2011.

Veery.

Chilly, damp, quiet. Oh, there were birds singing—occasionally, and sort of softly. Goldfinch, chickadee, a few warblers. The most vocal by far seemed to be veeries. (Coincidentally, the first of many was a silent bird that flitted up into a small maple, eyeing me.) As we came around the first turn in the trail, a veery greeted us with its loud veer! note, repeated at regular intervals. In the distance I could hear another. And by the time we reached the second bird, I heard a third. At some point, they began to sing their distinctive descending phrases, like flowing fountains of song.

Elsewhere on the hill, I heard the songs of all three other resident thrushes—hermit thrush, wood thrush, robin. And walking along the upper fields, we surprised a ribbon snake, which undulated madly across the trail.

By the time we reached the fog-cloaked summit, I’d heard the voices of eighteen birds but had only seen three (chickadee, catbird, veery). But coming down the misty open trail, just as we noticed another couple of hikers approaching, I spotted a pair of small, dark birds flying off to the left, where they lit in the upper branches of a tree. Bluebirds, a male and female. First of the species I’ve seen this year on the hill—a place where you’d think they’d thrive. There aren’t as many bluebirds as there used to be, so it was particularly nice to see this pair.

Eastern bluebird (male), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 May 2011.

Eastern bluebird (male).

As thicker fog gathered, I added another half-dozen species to my list. Then coming down the wooded trail, paying attention to the muddy footing, I noticed Jack fixing his gaze on something and looked up to see a turkey standing there not far away. We stopped, I accidentally stepped on Jack’s toe, he yiped, I apologized, and when I looked up again, the turkey was gone.

Earlier this evening, the finch and redstart were singing still, as the nuthatch and phoebe flitted to and from their nests.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5 p.m., I hiked all trails.

1. American goldfinch (voice)
2. Black-capped chickadee
3. Chestnut-sided warbler (voice)
4. Ovenbird
5. Veery
6. Eastern towhee (voice)
7. Herring gull (voice)
8. Gray catbird
9. Common yellowthroat (voice)
10. Black-and-white warbler (voice)
11. American crow (voice)
12. American robin
13. Hermit thrush (voice)
14. Yellow warbler
15. Ruby-throated hummingbird (voice)
16. Alder flycatcher (voice)
17. Song sparrow (voice)
18. Blue jay (voice)
19. Wood thrush (voice)
20. Nashville warbler (voice)
21. Eastern bluebird
22. Savannah sparrow
23. American redstart (voice)
24. Field sparrow (voice)
25. Eastern phoebe
26. Tufted titmouse (voice)
27. Chipping sparrow (voice)
28. Wild turkey

Elsewhere

29. House finch
30. House sparrow
31. European starling
32. Red-winged blackbird
33. Common grackle
34. Rock pigeon
35. Mourning dove
36. White-breasted nuthatch

In a cloud

Friday, May 27th, 2011
Foggy slope, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 May 2011.

Foggy slope.

Foggy this morning. House finches singing. The redstart was still calling out back. Also an ovenbird. House sparrows poked around the front walkway out my window. Crows.

Yellow warbler (Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 May 2011).

Yellow warbler.

As the day progressed, some of the fog burned off, and shadows appeared. I met a friend for lunch downtown, and the sun shone brightly throughout our meal. Afterward, I took my usual bicycle ride, and the sun became cloaked with haze. Still, it was a birdy bike ride: redstarts, a red-winged blackbird, starlings, goldfinches, chipping sparrows, song sparrows, chestnut-sided warblers, yellow warblers, crows, gulls, robins, catbirds. Soon after my return, I grabbed Jack, and we set off for a few pre-hike errands.

By the time we got to Beech Hill, fog had descended again. Thick fog. Nobody else felt like hiking in it, apparently, for we met no others on the hill.

But birds were active, singing along all trails. Today’s list looked a lot like yesterday’s, in fact: warblers (but no parula or black-throated green), sparrows (but no chippy), catbird and hummingbird and crow. Coming up the trail, I saw a hawk take wing and fly up through the fog ahead of us. I didn’t get a great look but figured it was a broad-winged—and then got confirmation from its thin, high cry.

At a couple of points, I heard the faint calls of hummingbirds in the low foliage; at one, I caught sight of two of the little hummers hovering amid the greenery. Didn’t see a lot of birds, but heard many—including titmouse, cardinal, cowbird, dove.

Coming back through the lower woods, we passed a place where a hermit thrush was singing and stopped. The bird was right there, on the inside of a curve in the trail. I walked slowly around the curve two or three times scanning for it, following my ears, but never did spot it. We left it there singing its echoing song in the fog.

Jack and ferns (Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 27 May 2011).

Jack and ferns.

The final bird today was a wood-pewee—second in as many days.

Back home, as the trees dripped, and the fog horns sounded, and I confirmed that both the nuthatches and phoebes were still attending their respective nests. The redstart was hanging around still. As dim daylight lingered, I watched the dark shapes of crows in the trees as they gathered before flying off to roost.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5 p.m., I hiked all trails.

1. American goldfinch (voice)
2. Eastern phoebe
3. Common yellowthroat
4. American robin
5. American crow
6. Chestnut-sided warbler
7. Veery (voice)
8. Red-eyed vireo (voice)
9. Eastern towhee
10. Black-and-white warbler (voice)
11. Broad-winged hawk
12. Black-capped chickadee
13. American redstart (voice)
14. Herring gull (voice)
15. Gray catbird
16. Ovenbird (voice)
17. Ruby-throated hummingbird
18. Blue jay (voice)
19. Yellow warbler
20. Hermit thrush (voice)
21. Song sparrow
22. Field sparrow (voice)
23. Wood thrush (voice)
24. Northern flicker (voice)
25. Rose-breasted grosbeak (voice)
26. Alder flycatcher (voice)
27. Mourning dove (voice)
28. Hairy woodpecker (voice)
29. Tufted titmouse (voice)
30. Brown-headed cowbird (voice)
31. Northern cardinal (voice)
32. White-throated sparrow (voice)
33. Black-throated blue warbler (voice)
34. Eastern wood-pewee (voice)

Elsewhere

35. House finch
36. House sparrow
37. Red-winged blackbird
38. European starling
39. Chipping sparrow
40. White-breasted nuthatch

Redstarts in the fog

Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Northern cardinal, Glen Cove, Rockport, Maine, 26 May 2011.

Northern cardinal.

A foggy kind of morning, but Jack and I got up early anyway. Spotted a cardinal on our way out, and heard a house finch, a redstart, and an ovenbird.

Veery (Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 May 2011).

Veery.

We were the only ones at the hill today, apparently—other than chipmunks, red squirrels, and many birds. In particular, assorted warblers, sparrows, and flycatchers. Just standing beside the sugarbush, I counted a dozen species singing, although I only caught sight of three (robin, phoebe, red-eyed vireo). The fog was especially thick, the trees especially drippy.

Coming around the first curve, I spied a calling veery, and we tried to sneak up on it. Got oh-so-close to a dynamite photo, but the bird would not oblige. Same with a chestnut-sided warbler, a redstart, and a white-throated sparrow. Birds kept popping up right there—but I was too slow on the draw. Oh, well.

More alder flycatchers, which was nice—but the most vocal species up there today seemed to be the American redstart. All over the place they were singing their telltale five-note call.

Similarly vocal were six resident sparrow species: towhee, white-throat, song, field, savannah, and chippy. (There might also be some nesting swamp sparrows around, but I didn’t hear any.) Also noticed the now-familiar little dee-dee! of a hummingbird here and there along the trails but didn’t actually see any. Later I heard—off in the fog—the crazy, human-sounding voice of a raven.

Common yellowthroat (Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 May 2011).

Common yellowthroat.

Down at the far parking lot, a couple warblers did finally pose for half-way decent photos.

If there were hawks today, I didn’t see ’em. Fact is, I couldn’t have seen any bird flying more than about thirty feet away. The fog even rendered Beech Nut invisible unless you walked right up to it.

Coming back down the lower wooded trail, I heard more ovenbirds, parulas, vireos, and black-throated greens. Then I caught a hint of something, and we stopped. It sang twice more. Sweet and unmistakable: a first-of-year wood-pewee. And finally, near the brook, a northern cardinal sang.

Elsewhere today I didn’t see much—though I did hear laughing gulls fly over. The fog persisted all day here at the shore.

And now, tonight, it’s lightly raining as both foghorns moan.

Apple blossoms (Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 26 May 2011).

Apple blossoms.

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

1. American redstart
2. Ovenbird (voice)
3. Hairy woodpecker (voice)
4. Common yellowthroat
5. Black-throated green warbler (voice)
6. Chestnut-sided warbler
7. Red-eyed vireo
8. American robin
9. Eastern phoebe
10. Herring gull (voice)
11. Eastern towhee
12. Veery
13. White-breasted nuthatch (voice)
14. Gray catbird
15. White-throated sparrow
16. American goldfinch (voice)
17. American crow (voice)
18. Blue jay (voice)
19. Black-and-white warbler
20. Alder flycatcher (voice)
21. Yellow warbler
22. Black-capped chickadee
23. Great crested flycatcher (voice)
24. Song sparrow
25. Savannah sparrow
26. Field sparrow
27. Ruby-throated hummingbird (voice)
28. Tufted titmouse (voice)
29. Northern parula (voice)
30. Hermit thrush (voice)
31. Chipping sparrow (voice)
32. Brown-headed cowbird (voice)
33. Common raven (voice)
34. Northern cardinal (voice)

Elsewhere

35. House finch
36. Mourning dove
37. European starling
38. Laughing gull

 
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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