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.
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.
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