22 July 2024

Archive for December, 2013


Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
Yellow-rumped warbler, Beech Hill Preserved, Rockport, Maine, 31 December 2013.

Yellow-rumped warbler.

Awoke to a temperature of about zero. Did some work in the morning, then decided to go ahead and get Beech Hill out of the way—so to speak—at midday. Jack was into it, so we headed out.

Ravens in love, Beech Hill Preserved, Rockport, Maine, 31 December 2013.

Ravens in love.

A couple cars in the parking lot surprised me, considering the temperature still hung in the middle single digits, but it was the lunch hour, which might’ve explained our encounter with the two hiking couples. Perhaps they were in love, like the two ravens I saw chasing and soaring high, high in the blue above the preserve. I heard the first—their croaks and gurgles and wails—and then watched them from a distance as they chased and spun and turned upside-down in dance. I feel sure it was a mating pair.

At the summit, I thought I heard buntings, but couldn’t be sure. Still, it got me thinking I should go ahead and head down the wooded trail, see what was up down there. It had been a while.

Soon saw a solitary yellow-rumped warbler. Heard crows and flickers. Saw both species. Neither heard nor saw a single bird or other animal down through the woods—it was a lusciously still, silent day—but there were dozens of animal tracks. Squirrels and hares and foxes and coyotes and one set of fat, lumbering tracks that I didn’t recognize but might’ve been a porcupine.

Returning up and over, I heard a couple of goldfinches. Otherwise silence. Cold, still, snowy silent.

Within the spruce grove, Beech Hill Preserved, Rockport, Maine, 31 December 2013.

Within the spruce grove.

An long, invigorating hike. A lovely last day of the year.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 12 p.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Common raven
2. American crow*
3. Northern flicker
4. Yellow-rumped warbler
5. American goldfinch (v)


6. Herring gull
7. Rock pigeon

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere


Winter wind

Monday, December 30th, 2013
Depth of field, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 30 December 2013.

Depth of field.

I’d expected a half-foot of snow this morning, but we got only about a half-inch. I suppose all that rain we had before it began to snow last night used up the water that became snow in surrounding areas. Didn’t have to shovel, at least. (Not that I really mind.) Gray day to start, but by the time Jack and I ended up at Beech Hill, the sun had come out and a wind had risen.

Common raven, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 30 December 2013.

Common raven.

I might just note that I haven’t seen the pileated woodpecker at the big dead pine in three days, I guess. Yesterday there were still fresh shavings on the snow at the base of the tree, but there were none on the new snow today. Perhaps it’s found a better tree.

Right away, then, I heard the guttural croak of a raven. More like a loud gurgle. Looked up and saw the resident pair sailing through the antic air, talking among themselves. Lovely. (Got only blurry photos, but I did get to point out the birds to a pair of returning snowshoers.) No other birds to hear or see today. About all I heard was the wind, and about all I saw was snow and sky and distant bay and several hikers and a dog or two. The birch tree still looks broken—perhaps I’ll prune the dead branch somehow.

My hat blew off three times up there. And when Jack had to stop, and I pulled out a poop bag, a second one escaped and within a couple of seconds had fled a hundred yards down the eastern slope.

Oh, well.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 2:30 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Common raven


2. American crow
3. House finch
4. Herring gull
5. Rock pigeon
6. Ring-billed gull
7. Mourning dove

v = Voice only


Broken birch

Sunday, December 29th, 2013
Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 29 December 2013.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

This morning while doing the dishes I looked out the window and saw a merlin chasing a small bird (maybe two or three) across the gray sky. It soon veered away and returned up over the hill. I couldn’t tell if it got the bird.

Birch, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 29 December 2013.


There was something of a thaw. This afternoon, as I hiked Beech Hill with Jack, the bounce-back from the ice storm was clear: we didn’t have to duck under drooping tree limbs, and every now and then falling ice and snow would startle Jack. Or me. Or both of us. Ascending, I looked up ahead at my favorite little birch tree, knowing it had a broken branch from the ice but not knowing how that would affect the symmetrical shape I was so familiar with. Well, although its limbs haven’t yet completely sprung back, the broken branch affects its shape fairly dramatically. Still, I think my little tree will be OK.

Heard crows, saw one. Heard a flicker and some chickadees. Saw a solitary yellow-rumped warbler in the bayberry—just after I’d wondered if I’d see one.

Although a good-sized snowstorm is in the forecast, just now—tonight—it’s raining.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 2:15 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. American crow*
2. Northern flicker (v)
3. Black-capped chickadee (v)
4. Yellow-rumped warbler


5. Merlin
6. Herring gull

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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