18 May 2024

Archive for August, 2012

Minimalist birding

Friday, August 31st, 2012
Eastern phoebe, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 31 August 2012.

Eastern phoebe.

Another day of slight sounds and subtle movements. Today dawned overcast, and a little thundershower blew through, but it had dried up just in time for my daily hike with dog. The sun had even emerged, and a little breeze had kicked up. Here’s the rundown:

After a few minutes, I heard chickadees.

After a few more, I heard a catbird mew—then spotted the bird well hidden in a tangle of brambles.

Nothing else until we got to the upper fields, when we paused so I could check the productive little thicket. Heard a flutter of wings, the looked up to see a tail-wagging phoebe perched on a bare twig not a dozen feet away. Nice.

Coming up the final stretch before the summit, I heard another flutter and somehow managed to catch sight of a male yellowthroat poking about deep in a shady bush.

Returning down that same stretch, I heard exactly four notes from a goldfinch flying away.

Entering the lower woods, I saw something flitting through the understory and got a look at a hermit thrush perched in the dim shadows.

Heard two or three distant calls of a flicker.

Heard three or four wood-pewees.

Heard a faraway crow.

As we passed through the last of the deep woods, I heard more chickadees and stopped to look for them high in the canopy. Not only did I spot the chickadees but also a pair of nuthatches poking about up there.

Entering the overgrown curve before the little woodland pool, I heard—then saw—a young cedar waxwing levitra prix.

Frankly, that was way more birds than I imagined I’d see up there today.

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

1. Black-capped chickadee
2. Gray catbird
3. Eastern phoebe
4. Common yellowthroat
5. American goldfinch (v)
6. Hermit thrush
7. Northern flicker (v)
8. Eastern wood-pewee (v)
9. American crow* (v)
10. White-breasted nuthatch
11. Cedar waxwing


12. Herring gull
13. Mourning dove

v = Voice only
* Also elsewhere

Mind games

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
Red-eyed vireo (immature), Beech Hill, Rockport, 30 August 2012.

Red-eyed vireo (immature).

These quiet summer days offer what might be my second-favorite kind of birding. My favorite, naturally, is in the company of a plethora of birds, of species—the month of May, island migrations, amid great flocks of shorebirds. But these days you’ve really gotta hunt and stalk and pay really close attention. Because all you get are tiny signs: subtle notes, silent flittings, faint motion in the canopy. It helps to know the landscape, the place. It helps to have learned chip-notes and behaviors. But you’ve still gotta step quietly, sneak around, stop and look and listen. It’s more of a series of mind games. Many small riddles.

Black-capped chickadee, Beech Hill, Rockport, 30 August 2012.

Black-capped chickadee.

Late today on Beech Hill with Jack, I heard the voices of the first three species: chickadee, crow, catbird. No real puzzles there. But coming up the quiet trail, walking slowly past leafy thickets, I had to use my wits and tune my senses. Mainly, I just followed the lead of chickadees.

We stopped at a curve where they were peeping softly above us. Waited, just gazing into the brush. Sure enough, a white-throated sparrow jumped up out of nowhere and fluttered quickly over into a shady hollow. I heard only its wingbeats, saw just enough of the bird for a positive ID. Then not much farther along, following the same band of chickadees up the hill, I spotted other small birds up in the trees among them (as I often do). The other birds turned out to be red-eyed vireos, possibly a family. I got a couple photos of a young one. They made no sound. They were not easy to see.

And as I was stopped there, photographing vireos, I caught sight of another little bird flitting low to the ground then disappearing. A second later, from where it disappeared, I heard the abbreviated call of a common yellowthroat.

Only crows at the summit. But returning into the woods, near where I’d seen the flock of smaller birds, I heard the high voice of a waxwing. It took a solid minute of slow walking and careful peering to spot the bird in the thick foliage of a small tree.

Cedar waxwing, Beech Hill, Rockport, 30 August 2012.

Cedar waxwing.

Heard two distant pewees (still) down in the lower woods. And two loud croaks of a raven as we neared the parking lot. And that, today, was that.

(Sure was a lot of fun.)

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

1. Black-capped chickadee
2. American crow*
3. Gray catbird
4. White-throated sparrow
5. Red-eyed vireo
6. Common yellowthroat (v)
7. Cedar waxwing
8. Eastern wood-pewee (v)
9. Common raven (v)


10. Herring gull
11. Rock pigeon

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere


Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
Monarch, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 August 2012.


Coolish today, with a breeze. Cloudless for most of it. While out doing errands, I spotted a few town birds and a broad-winged hawk crossing Route 1. Took a hike with Jack at the usual late-summer hour and found a quiet hillside amid faint bird sounds and unidentified flitting species. I did manage to ID the voice of a young vireo (nearby was the voice of its alarmed parent). Spotted a silent hermit thrush in the shadows. Spotted a phoebe in the woods near where I saw one yesterday—likely the same bird—and got only a glimpse of what looked to be an adult wood warbler (chestnut-sided?). The wood-pewees are still around, at least one family.

At the edge of the summit fields, I spent quite a while photographing a monarch butterfly dining on a wind-whipped goldenrod. It seemed undaunted by its dramatic swinging and swaying.

Also had a nice chat with a friendly visiting family up at Beech Nut. That’s where I’ve mostly engaged in conversations these days. Other than with Jack, I mean. (And that’s mostly one-sided.)

Tonight is clear and cool. The moon is nearly full for the second time this month.

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

1. Black-capped chickadee
2. American crow*
3. Cedar waxwing
4. Gray catbird (v)
5. American goldfinch*
6. Red-eyed vireo (v)
7. Northern flicker (v)
8. Hermit thrush
9. Eastern phoebe
10. Warbler (sp.)
11. Eastern wood-pewee (v)


12. Herring gull
13. Rock pigeon
14. House sparrow
15. Broad-winged hawk
16. American robin (v)
17. 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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