21 February 2024

Wind and warmth

Friday, April 30th, 2010
Spring wood, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 April 2010.

Spring wood, Beech Hill.

When I first looked out at the sky this morning, I saw that it was cloudless. Wholly cloudless. Not a cloud in the sky. This seemed somehow promising—if somewhat scary—so we took only a few minutes, dog and I, before heading up to Beech Hill. (Although I did take time to make coffee.)

Mourning dove, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 April 2010.

Mourning dove.

No cars in the lot. At first, again, I heard only the commoner birds: chickadee, goldfinch, robin, herring gull down the road. But soon (again) came the voices of towhees. And then, ascending the upper woodland trail, I heard what at first sounded like the song of the catbird I heard the other day. And in just the same place. But again—as the other day—I thought I detected double-phrasing. Like a thrasher. I couldn’t see the bird beyond the tangles along the trail edge, but after passing I couldn’t help asking the dog to accompany back down a ways to take another look.

There it was: brown thrasher. Thus, I’ve gone back and changed my listing of a catbird on 26 April (Monday). None of those just yet. Oh, they’ll be here—but they’ve been beaten by a thrasher.

We came upon a red squirrel hiding just a few feet off the trail. Then just a few paces farther along, I heard the quay note of a hermit thrush—and the bird itself hopped up to a hidden twig (but not that hidden) not twenty feet from us. Good look, no possible photo.

Chipping sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 April 2010.

Chipping sparrow.

The air warmed quickly in the sun as we climbed the greening hill. But at the summit a quick wind howled in the little huddle of spruces. A huge wind, racing in from the west or northwest or southwest. I couldn’t listen well for all the wind. But I did hear savannah sparrows. Saw a couple, too, flitting about on the trail in front of us as they are wont to do. Not much else, though, until we reached the base of the open trail on the other side of the hill. The chipping sparrow that’s claimed one particular spruce down there was calling loudly from one of its branches. I caught sight of the bird for a change.

On the trail we met a mother with a young son. She also carried a baby. And a kite. On our return ascent we came upon the little family in a place of sailing wind. Sure enough, she’d managed to get the kite airborne, and the little guy was flying it like a pro. I snapped a couple photos.

There, off in the wind, the field sparrow. Coming back down the wooded trail: a titmouse. And a downy woodpecker. And, rather thrillingly, a blue-headed vireo. As we stopped to listen to the vireo, dog and I were suddenly cloaked in a cloud of black flies. A chickadee flitted in some hardwood branches above us, picking off flies.

I thought I’d be ending up with 17 species today—until I heard the voice of a crow from the parking. Looked up. The crow was chasing a raven.

Great black-backed gull, Rockland Breakwater, Rockland, Maine, 30 April 2010.

Great black-backed gull.

I went cycling this afternoon. I spent much of that time working at not getting blown over—but I also came upon a pair of ospreys soaring over a stretch of Route 1 near the Rockville Street farm. Such handsome birds. I’m glad I live among them.

And in late afternoon, dog and I hit the breakwater. Lots of birds today—and still-warm temperatures, and lighter winds. Black-backed gull, eiders, about a half-dozen red-breasted mergansers, a couple guillemots, one in mixed plumage and one in its full summer outfit. From the harbor side, I heard the yodel of a loon.

Yesterday we had sun and drizzle and, in some places, snow and sleet—even what some have called “hail.” Today we had sun and blue sky and wind and warmth. And flies. And an expectancy of warblers.

Beech Hill List
At 7:30 a.m., I walked all trails.

American robin (voice)
Black-capped chickadee
American goldfinch
Herring gull (voice)
Eastern towhee
Brown thrasher
Hermit thrush
White-throated sparrow (voice)
Mourning dove
Eastern phoebe
Common raven
Savannah sparrow
Chipping sparrow
Northern harrier
Field sparrow (voice)
Blue-headed vireo (voice)
Tufted titmouse (voice)
American crow

House finch
Rock pigeon
Downy woodpecker
Common grackle
Great black-backed gull
Common eider
Red-breasted merganser
Black guillemot
Common loon

Afternoon sky, Rockland Breakwater, Rockland, Maine, 30 April 2010.

Afternoon sky, Rockland Harbor.

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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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