22 July 2024

Archive for June, 2012

Hot summer day

Saturday, June 30th, 2012
Cedar waxwings, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 June 2012.

Cedar waxwings.

Sun. Warmth. Wind. Kind of a lovely summer Saturday.

Song sparrow and Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 June 2012.

Song sparrow (fledgling) and Savannah sparrow.

Dressed skimpily. Did errands. Broke out the bike. Rode eighteen sweet, sweaty miles. And then I grabbed my dog’s leash, my dog, and my camera. We had a date with Beech Hill.

No one but us on the hill this late afternoon. I’m liking the new, wide upper wooded trail. In fact, for the second straight day, I didn’t find any ticks crawling on either me or Jack. Moreover—as I kind of thought might happen—the trailside birds had returned. (Doubt they ever went anywhere, maybe just laid low after the noise of yesterday’s trail-clearing.) Redstart, chestnut-sided warbler, catbird, towhee. Their youngsters have all left the nest by now, I suspect. In fact, most all of Beech Hill’s nestlings have by now fledged. You can sort of tell by the new behavior of the adults birds—their relocation to new habitat, their nervous flitting about, their altered summertime calls. And, of course, by the appearance of the occasional fledgling.

Today’s fledgling sighting was an odd one: on the open summit trail, I noticed a couple of sparrows hopping ahead of us. Took a look and was surprised to see what looked like a young song sparrow following an adult Savannah sparrow around. The two species both nest along the trail, maybe somebody got confused.

Penobscot Bay, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 June 2012.

Penobscot Bay.

Plenty of waxwings still. A solitary tree swallow scouting the upper air. A crow in the periphery. No hawk or raven—in fact, no hermit thrush or pewee on the lower wooded trail. I bet they weren’t the only critters laying low on the afternoon of a nice, hot summer day.

Beech Hill List

Beginning at 4:45 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails—and then some.

1. Veery (v)
2. Ovenbird (v)
3. Red-eyed vireo (v)
4. Chestnut-sided warbler*
5. American redstart (v)
6. Gray catbird*
7. Cedar waxwing*
8. Song sparrow*
9. Common yellowthroat* (v)
10. Eastern towhee
11. Black-capped chickadee (v)
12. American goldfinch* (v)
13. Yellow warbler
14. American robin
15. Eastern phoebe
16. Savannah sparrow
17. Tree swallow
18. Blue jay (v)
19. American crow*
20. House finch*


21. Northern cardinal (v)
22. Herring gull
23. House sparrow (v)
24. Chipping sparrow (v)
25. Mourning dove

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere

Clear trail

Friday, June 29th, 2012
Broad-winged hawk, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 June 2012.

Broad-winged hawk.

It rained again this morning. Then it cleared up. And got warm. Worked some, had a nice, big lunch with a friend in Rockland, then set off on my bicycle. Worked up a good sweat, heard plenty of roadside birds.

Cedar waxwing, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 June 2012.

Cedar waxwing.

Finally, late in the day, Jack and I found our way to Beech Hill (duh). No other humans there but me, no other dogs but Jack. However, some busy soul had thoughtfully whacked a nice wide swath along the upper wooded trail. No prickly berry branches to navigate around, no tall grasses to wade through, collecting ticks. Kind of nice, on the one hand, but kind of worrisome on the other. Can’t help it—it’s my own personal curse that I worry about the effects of human activity on Nature. Nature put us here, after all, to do what we do. But I couldn’t help but notice the unusual silence along the trail. No calls redstarts, no scolding chestnut-sided warblers, no flitting towhees or chattering catbirds. We did pass a veery in a clump of trees, warning us away. And a solitary yellowthroat chipped at us from the undergrowth. But that was until we reached the sun-warmed upper fields, where things were hoppin’.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just that time of year. Maybe the trailside warblers have left the nest, as I know the towhees have. Birds really don’t tend a nest for all that long—perhaps that’s all it was. And anyway, it’s not like the berry brambles won’t quickly come back, as the grass won’t swiftly grow.

Common yellowthroat, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 June 2012.

Common yellowthroat.

Certainly the summit had plenty to look at and listen to: phoebes (which, judging by all the scolding from the spruce grove, have left their nest), Savannah sparrows (again, flitting crazily in a stout wind—also fledged?), song sparrows, flocks of waxwings. A solitary crow flew over, and right after that I heard the call of a raven. And not very long after that, I spotted the raven (I assume the same bird) flapping off toward the bay. Off toward the bay is also where I spotted a hawk—a broad-winged—sailing and veering and riding the wind.

Down in the woods, a hermit thrush sang. And back at the parking lot I heard a flicker. But perhaps my oddest sighting today was my first: a pair of ospreys—one calling—flying low over the sugarbush, tending to some urgent errand.

For a brief time at evening, the sky caught fire and simmered a while. And tonight the moon is a little brighter than it was a day ago.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5:45 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails—and then some.

1. Osprey*
2. Ovenbird (v)
3. Red-eyed vireo (v)
4. Chestnut-sided warbler (v)
5. Veery (v)
6. Eastern towhee
7. Yellow warbler* (v)
8. Cedar waxwing*
9. American goldfinch* (v)
10. American crow*
11. Common yellowthroat*
12. Gray catbird* (v)
13. American robin*
14. Black-capped chickadee (v)
15. Eastern phoebe
16. Tree swallow
17. Song sparrow* (v)
18. Savannah sparrow
19. Common raven
20. Alder flycatcher (v)
21. Broad-winged hawk
22. Hermit thrush (v)
23. Northern flicker (v)


24. Blue jay (v)
25. House finch (v)
26. Herring gull
27. American redstart (v)
28. Rock pigeon
29. European starling
30. Northern cardinal (v)
31. Chipping sparrow (v)
32. Mourning dove

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere

Evening clouds, Glen Cove, Rockport, Maine, 29 June 2012.

Evening clouds.


Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 June 2012.

Savannah sparrow.

Sometimes it’s a challenge putting down words every day like this. Often I fear I sound like some guy just ramblin’ around on the same trails, in the same woods and fields, on the same hill, listing all the same birds. “I hiked the hill, I heard these birds, I saw these birds.” I suppose it’s what I do, though. And I do enjoy doing it.

Hairy woodpecker (female), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 June 2012.

Hairy woodpecker (female).

But fact is I’m a ramblin’ sort of fool just generally. In conversation with me, you’ll notice me rambling from topic to topic, recalling old times, telling (and retelling) stories. So it’s somehow fitting that I ramble routinely around one particular hill. With my dog. Listing birds.

The weather is part of it. We all pay attention to the weather. I sure do. Today’s had rain, clearing, more rain, more clearing. It’s rained every day for many days, come to think of it. Today’s rain was intermittent, broken by bright periods of warm sun. At one point this afternoon I got all set to head out on my bike, but when first I checked the weather radar, I noticed some rain coming and held off. Sure enough, it rained like crazy. Stripped of my bike gear and went back to work for a while.

But the sun came out again, I donned my bike gear again, and I went out for a really great ride. Big clouds loomed in the west, but I’d noticed the blow was coming from the northwest, and I was headed north, and I missed all but a slight patch of drizzle. I returned to we pavement, but the clouds had moved on, so Jack and I hiked Beech Hill. Again.

Song sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 June 2012.

Song sparrow.

The usual birds calling. At one point I stopped amid a cloud of mosquitoes to see if I could spy the singing redstart when I saw movement to the right of me and spied, instead, a female hairy woodpecker. Not twenty feet away, pecking at damp tree trunk, making no sound. Heard a mourning dove, spotted a song sparrow hopping along ahead of us through rain puddles.

Up top, the phoebes and Savannahs and waxwings were active. The sky had gone mostly blue, and the bay spread clear and wide to the east of us. Met a few fellow hikers up there. Also a flapping turkey vulture.

Returning, Jack alerted to something. I couldn’t see what—but a few paces later, a big ol’ turkey took off with a cluck through the trees, causing me to jump. A thrushy woodland below, with veeries and hermit thrushes and robins all singing. Plus a couple of wood-pewees.

Back home, I heard the hermit thrush that’s been singing up the hill from me again. It’s a comfort, hearing that thrush up there.

Tonight the sky is clear, and there’s a waxwing moon. Supposed to be warm tomorrow.

But I ramble.

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

1. Hermit thrush* (v)
2. Red-eyed vireo* (v)
3. Ovenbird* (v)
4. Veery* (v)
5. American crow*
6. Common yellowthroat*
7. Chestnut-sided warbler
8. American redstart* (v)
9. Hairy woodpecker
10. Mourning dove* (v)
11. Eastern towhee
12. American goldfinch* (v)
13. Black-capped chickadee*
14. Song sparrow*
15. Gray catbird* (v)
16. Cedar waxwing
17. Alder flycatcher (v)
18. Eastern phoebe
19. Savannah sparrow*
20. American robin*
21. Turkey vulture
22. Wild turkey
23. Eastern wood-pewee (v)


24. Northern cardinal (v)
25. House finch
26. Herring gull
27. Osprey
28. European starling

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere

Spruce, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 June 2012.


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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