It’s hard to put into words the shift in reality you feel when staying on an island a several miles offshore. A smallish island, with another hundred souls or so, and some leashless dogs, and pickups without license plates driving slowly along windy one-lane gravel roads. Especially at this time of year, when the air smells of the ocean and lilacs and cut grass and roses. And there’s a bird in every tree.
Another fruitful day on Monhegan. Up at first light (about 5 a.m.). Two hours birding before breakfast. Hazy in the morning, then a spattering of rain. Then clearing into full sun and summer-like warmth. The calendar seems much earlier than the season.
Birders’ excitement yesterday—there’s always some crazy vagrant—was the western kingbird we saw hanging out with the eastern kingbirds at the watery wetland they call The Meadow. We also heard tell of a white-eyed vireo and, today, an olive-sided warbler, but we neither saw nor heard either. However, I personally listed a dozen new island species, including four first-of-year birds (red-breasted nuthatch, winter wren, golden-crowned kinglet, and willet). That’s a good fifty-four species on the trip so far—certainly no record, but not bad for a migration mostly gone by.
I got a couple decent photos but thought I’d lost them all as my camera battery died while downloading. Thankfully, I didn’t—but if I had, it wouldn’t’ve been nearly as upsetting as if I’d been inshore. The Carolina wren was fairly nice. Also a couple of waxwing shots. (I saw a pair of waxwings, by the way, feeding each other berries—a behavior I’ve witnessed in the past but involving apple blossoms.) But no photo overshadowed the dramatic Heimlich Maneuver rescue of a guest at dinner. Lucky for him he sat near a doctor who, though she acknowledged it was her first Heimlich, expelled the food expertly. (Others of us who had taken CPR classes stood by just in case.) In the end, he finished his meal and had chocolate cake for dessert.
This evening, I watched the sunset over the ocean with Kristen and Paul. Gulls were riding the wind lazily in the gathering darkness, headed somewhere to roost. And on my walk back to my room at the Trailing Yew, I saw the silhouette of a great blue heron in flight.
Such is Monhegan. Such is life.
(Numbered for full trip; not in order of listing.)
43. Brown thrasher
44. Common raven (voice)
45. Chipping sparrow (voice)
46. Northern parula (voice)
47. Red-breasted nuthatch*
48. Magnolia warbler
49. Alder flycatcher
51. Ruby-throated hummingbird
52. Winter wren* (voice)
53. Golden-crowned kinglet* (voice)
54. Great blue heron
Mourning dove (voice)
Blue jay (voice)
Black-throated green warbler (voice)
Blackpoll warbler (voice)
Great black-backed gull
Tags: alder flycatcher, American crow, American goldfinch, American redstart, American robin, barn swallow, black guillemot, black-capped chickadee, black-throated green warbler, blackpoll warbler, blue jay, brown thrasher, Carolina wren, Cedar waxwing, chipping sparrow, common eider, common grackle, common raven, common yellowthroat, double-crested cormorant, eastern kingbird, European starling, golden-crowned kinglet, gray catbird, great black-backed gull, great blue heron, herring gull, house wren, laughing gull, magnolia warbler, mallard, mourning dove, northern gannet, northern oriole, northern parula, osprey, red-breasted nuthatch, red-winged blackbird, ring-necked pheasant, ruby-throated hummingbird, song sparrow, willet, winter wren, yellow warbler