20 May 2024

Archive for May, 2012

American ladies

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Seven butterflies, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 31 May 2012.

Seven butterflies.

American ladies are beautiful, athletic, agile, maybe a little fickle, maybe a little headstrong. I’m referring, of course, to the butterflies.

American lady, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 31 May 2012.

American lady.

After work today, when Jack and I arrived at the wooded Beech Hill trail, the trees were oddly silent. An hour earlier, as I cycled up Route 1, a period of afternoon sun had given way to a large lump of clouds, and we walked under the overcast in stillness. I saw heard intermittent calls of the resident bird species but saw none—save an overflying loon—until we’d nearly reached the summit, when I spotted a solitary crow standing in a field. Coincidentally, that was about the time the big cloud cleared the sun, and with the increased warmth and brightness, birdsong increased.

Song sparrows, a hermit thrush, yellowthroats, an alder flycatcher. I heard—then spied—a tree swallow making little circles above the barrens. We circled Beech Nut, watched by the resident phoebe, and on the sunny side came upon the butterflies. There must’ve been a couple dozen of them swirling around in two or three tight swarms near the western wall of the hut, fluttering rapidly but with a purpose—and an impressive sense of direction. I’d seen this behavior in past years, but that didn’t make it less impressive. I pointed my camera in their general direction, focused as best I could, and fired off a bunch of shots, hoping for some kind of crazy luck. By damn, I got a couple photos.

Song sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 31 May 2012.

Song sparrow.

Returning down the lower woods, I heard a black-throated green warbler singing loudly. Ovenbirds. A hermit thrush in the distance. And the lonesome song of the wood-pewee. Only the pewee distracted me from the magic of the flurry of butterflies I’d watched a little while before.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5:15 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails.

1. American robin* (v)
2. Ovenbird (v)
3. Common loon
4. Chestnut-sided warbler* (v)
5. American redstart* (v)
6. Eastern towhee (v)
7. American crow*
8. Common yellowthroat (v)
9. Red-eyed vireo* (v)
10. Gray catbird (v)
11. Veery (v)
12. Alder flycatcher (v)
13. Yellow warbler (v)
14. Hermit thrush (v)
15. Song sparrow*
16. Black-throated green warbler (v)
17. Eastern phoebe
18. Tree swallow
19. American goldfinch
20. Eastern wood-pewee (v)
21. Black-and-white warbler (v)
22. White-breasted nuthatch (v)


23. House finch
24. Herring gull
25. European starling (v)
26. Chipping sparrow (v)
27. Northern cardinal (v)
28. Black-capped chickadee (v)

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere

Dandelions, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 31 May 2012.



Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
American goldfinch, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 May 2012.

American goldfinch.

I keep missing that perfect woodcock photo. I keep reminding myself to sneak up on the soggy stretches of trail—there are plenty—because that’s where I keep flushing the little ground birds. And I keep forgetting that one particular place. This late afternoon, it was the muddy curve just beneath the Beech Hill summit. By then Jack and I were ready to reach the top, and we came around the first turn, and the woodcock flew, and I got a great look at the chestnut brown of its back feathers in the slanting sunlight.

Yellow warbler, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 May 2012.

Yellow warbler.

Oh, well.

Then we met three nice folks from Florida who were exploring Beech Nut. We got to talking birds, and I learned that they’d already spotted turkeys with hatchlings not far away, where they’d been staying. This got me thinking I should pay more attention to the undergrowth instead of gazing up into the now-fully-leafed-out trees. After all, in past hikes up there I’ve come upon all the local ground fowl—turkeys, woodcocks, and grouse—with little fuzzy chicks. Usually, of course, the mama will wail and mew and cause a loud distraction, which draws my attention away from the young’uns. (Never mind that I know that’s their trick: it always works.) But I’ve occasionally managed to find ’em anyway.

Meanwhile, the songbirds aren’t calling so much anymore. Oh, they were calling more in the evening sun than they were in yesterday’s dreary conditions, but you can tell there’s some serious nesting going on. The alder flycatchers’ song has changed. The yellowthroats and chestnut-sided warblers flit about nervously. I spotted a yellow warbler carrying a large fly off into the bushes somewhere. I’d be surprised if they already had nestlings, but I suppose it’s possible.

Didn’t hear the pewee today. Did hear singing thrushes. Did see the Beech Nut phoebe attending to its nest. And the woodcock. I got a nice glimpse of the woodcock.

Tiger swallowtail, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 May 2012.

Tiger swallowtail.

Still looking for that photo, though.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5:15 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails.

1. Ovenbird* (v)
2. Red-eyed vireo* (v)
3. Common yellowthroat* (v)
4. Northern flicker (v)
5. Chestnut-sided warbler
6. American redstart* (v)
7. American robin*
8. American goldfinch*
9. American crow*
10. Eastern towhee
11. Black-and-white warbler (v)
12. Gray catbird* (v)
13. Yellow warbler*
14. Tufted titmouse (v)
15. Alder flycatcher (v)
16. Song sparrow*
17. Hermit thrush (v)
18. Veery (v)
19. Black-throated green warbler (v)
20. American woodcock
21. Eastern phoebe
22. Northern cardinal* (v)
23. Downy woodpecker (v)
24. Black-capped chickadee
25. White-breasted nuthatch (v)


26. House finch (v)
27. Herring gull
28. Mallard
29. Mourning dove
30. Common grackle
31. House sparrow

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere


Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 May 2012.

Savannah sparrow.

It all depends. Depends on the time of day, the time of year. Depends on the weather. As there are in all of life, there are variables in birding.

Today was a rainy one. A couple thundershowers blew through. We had a nice downpour. Dog and I didn’t bother with an early hike; instead, we worked and napped, respectively, until late in the afternoon, when there came a lull in the rain. It was misting and foggy when we started up the wooded Beech Hill trail.

Young oak, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 May 2012.

Young oak.

Not much to report. A lot of drippy trees. No vireos at all that I could hear or see—likely, I figured, because of the weather or late hour—and only a few ovenbirds singing off in the trees. I heard the alarm notes of a robin (and actually saw that bird). I heard the alarm notes of a chestnut-sided warbler (did not see that one). I heard the alarm notes of a yellowthroat (spotted it). Heard a crow above the pattering, drippy echoes in the understory. A towhee called. Just one. Finally, toward the summit, I heard a yellowthroat’s call.

Beech Nut was socked in. I did also hear a singing song sparrow and spotted a silent savannah. And off down the southern slope, I heard the faint calls of a vireo. (Finally.)

Coming back down along the lower wooded trail, I heard the alarm notes of a hermit thrush.

No veery, though. Apparently the vociferousness of veeries varies.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 4:15 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails.

1. Ovenbird
2. American robin
3. Chestnut-sided warbler
4. Black-capped chickadee
5. American crow
6. Eastern towhee
7. Common yellowthroat
8. Yellow warbler
9. Song sparrow
10. Savannah sparrow
11. Red-eyed vireo
12. Hermit thrush


13. House finch
14. Herring gull
15. Mallard
16. Northern cardinal

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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