18 May 2024

Archive for July, 2012


Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
White-throated sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, 31 July 2012.

White-throated sparrow.

They’re moving around, the birds of Beech Hill. So are the birds elsewhere on the 44th parallel, but Jack and I are mostly familiar with the Beech Hill species. Well, I am—Jack’s mostly familiar with only the turkeys.

Alder flycatcher, Beech Hill, Rockport, 31 July 2012.

Alder flycatcher.

Truly a gorgeous day, today was. I spent the morning at my desk, rode my bicycle in afternoon. Didn’t notice a lot of birds on my ride, for some reason. Preoccupied, I guess. Partly by the little bump in summer traffic this week: our notorious Lobster Festival opens tomorrow. But I arrived back safely, and within a few minutes, dog and I were in the woods, heading up our favorite hill.

Where red-eyed vireos were hopping about high in the canopy. Where goldfinches and waxwings were flying here and there above us (the waxwings in larger flocks again). Where I heard a little gang of chickadees chipping and calling—one was even delivering his spring fee-bee! Flitting catbirds, angry little yellowthroats scolding from the shrubbery. Not a lot to see, though.

Until I heard the warning peeps of an alder flycatcher in the last wooded stretch before the fields. We stopped. Waited. A small brown bird popped up—a white-throated sparrow. While trying for a photo, I realized the flycatcher’s notes sounded very near. Took a minute, but I finally spotted the bird on a bare twig directly above us. It didn’t stay there long.

Nothing much at the summit, either. So we hiked down the open trail a bit until—as I’d hoped—I got a listen to a song sparrow.

Common yellowthroat (female), Beech Hill, Rockport, 31 July 2012.

Common yellowthroat (female).

Returning, I spotted another white-throat. Heard a single hermit thrush. Heard the alarm calls of a robin.

No ovenbirds today, though. They must’ve been out wandering in the trees.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Red-eyed vireo (v)
2. Black-capped chickadee (v)
3. American goldfinch*
4. Cedar waxwing
5. American crow*
6. Eastern towhee (v)
7. Gray catbird
8. Alder flycatcher
9. White-throated sparrow
10. Common yellowthroat
11. Song sparrow (v)
12. American robin (v)
13. Hermit thrush (v)
14. Chestnut-sided warbler (v)


15. Herring gull
16. Mourning dove
17. Chipping sparrow (v)
18. Northern cardinal (v)

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere

Waxwings and ovenbirds

Monday, July 30th, 2012
Cedar waxwings, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 July 2012.

Cedar waxwings.

Clear. Blue. Dry. Windy. Not too windy—but a pretty stout southwesterly blow. I noticed it particularly while out cycling in mid-afternoon. I also noticed the calls of chipping sparrows along my usual route. And earlier, a little family of titmice was making noise out back of my place for a change. Titmice moving around.

Black-capped chickadee, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 July 2012.

Black-capped chickadee.

The wind caused a rush in the thick canopy of the wooded Beech Hill trail when Jack and I arrived late. Vireos calling, as usual. Goldfinches. Waxwings. But the waxwings have begun to bunch up a bit—encountered a flock of a couple dozen or so about half way up the trail (and fewer small groups at the summit). Heard white-throated sparrows for the third straight day.

But no song sparrows. No Savannahs. Plenty of towhees. No robins. Each day is different up there.

Just a single hermit thrush on our return through the lower woods. Just one pewee also. But then Jack’s ears perked up and I saw him looking far down the trail. When he does this, I’ve learned to pay attention—and, sure enough, three turkeys hurried down through the trees off in front of us maybe a hundred feet or so. I’m not sure how Jack does it. Eyes plus nose? I can’t imagine he heard them, what with the rushing wind—but maybe.

And then came perhaps the most exciting occurrences. Three of them. Occurrence No. 1: I spotted a little brown bird in the shadows at the base of a trailside bush. We stopped. I haven’t been carrying fieldglasses lately (mine have become relatively useless, alas) but I could tell by its movements and the razor-sharp chip notes it made that this was an ovenbird. Occurrence No. 2: Off to our left as we descended through the open grove of big oaks, again I heard the chips of an ovenbird, not far to our left (didn’t see it, though). Occurrence No. 3: As we neared the parking lot, just beyond the brook, I spotted another small bird flitting beneath another trailside bush not thirty feet away—this ovenbird I got a good look at through my viewfinder (although the photos turned out blurry for wont of light).

Fowl feather, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 July 2012.

Fowl feather.

No singing ovenbirds today, but they’re still there after all. More of them, I daresay, than there were in spring.

As evening approached, I heard a hermit thrush up the hill behind my place, as I have regularly nearly every day for a week or more. Chipping cardinals well into evening. And, later, fireflies under a waxing moon.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 4:45 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails.

1. Red-eyed vireo (v)
2. American goldfinch* (v)
3. Black-capped chickadee
4. Eastern towhee
5. Cedar waxwing
6. Gray catbird
7. American crow* (v)
8. White-throated sparrow
9. Alder flycatcher (v)
10. Common yellowthroat
11. Hermit thrush* (v)
12. Wild turkey
13. Eastern wood-pewee (v)
14. Ovenbird


15. Tufted titmouse (v)
16. House finch (v)
17. Herring gull
18. Rock pigeon
19. Chipping sparrow (v)
20. Mourning dove
21. Northern cardinal (v)

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere


Sunday, July 29th, 2012
Gray catbird (juvenile), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 July 2012.

Gray catbird (juvenile).

Today was overcast with rain off and on. I worked at my kitchen table, didn’t bother with a damp bike ride. But toward late afternoon, Jack and I were itchin’ for our daily hike.

Eastern towhee (juvenile), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 July 2012.

Eastern towhee (juvenile).

So we ended up at the wooded Beech Hill trail, as usual. Ironically—and oddly, I thought, considering how high the clouds looked—the sky began to drip just as we got underway. Not a heavy rain, by any means, but a steady sort of drip and spatter. Places overhung by trees remained dry, and the deer flies didn’t seem bothered. We weren’t much bothered either. Nor were the vireos, apparently. But I didn’t imagine there’d be many more birds to see (or hear).

Turned out there were several: chickadees, towhees, goldfinches—and several flitting catbirds in the undergrowth. In fact, turned out, most of the typical species made their presences known one way or the other. Mostly by subtle notes and calls.

About the time we reached the summit, the rain stopped. I noticed a party of three arriving ahead of us, each carrying an umbrella. We stopped to chat with what turned out to be a family visiting the area. Nice folks. And while we chatted, I happened to spot a barn swallow. Then another. Then three or four more. A family of swallows dipping and veering, seemingly hunting a rise of post-rain flies above the grass. And then a field sparrow called. And a phoebe flew over. Then a mourning dove. (I even thought I saw a hummingbird zip by, but I couldn’t be sure.) Scarce species emerging after the rain—and also, I figure, in the wake of their quiet, secretive period of nurturing new birds.

Blackberries, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 July 2012.


Returning, we happened upon a couple of families of catbirds—many catbirds—zipping and dashing between low bushes, eyeing us suspiciously. Most of them were youngsters, I could tell. As were most of the towhees we also happened upon. And then, a little gang of white-throated sparrows.

So yesterday’s white-throat wasn’t an anomaly. Must also be their time of year to reemerge.

Eighteen species despite the drippy conditions. A happy happenstance.

And tonight the sky cleared, and the moon has emerged.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 4:30 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails.

1. Red-eyed vireo* (v)
2. Black-capped chickadee (v)
3. Eastern towhee
4. American goldfinch* (v)
5. Gray catbird
6. Cedar waxwing
7. Common yellowthroat
8. American crow* (v)
9. American robin
10. Hermit thrush* (v)
11. Song sparrow*
12. Barn swallow
13. Field sparrow (v)
14. Eastern phoebe
15. Mourning dove*
16. Alder flycatcher (v)
17. White-throated sparrow
18. Eastern wood-pewee (v)


19. House finch (v)
20. Herring gull
21. Northern cardinal (v)

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere

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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