26 May 2022

Crazy, lovely day

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Common yellowthroat (male), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 June 2010.

Common yellowthroat (male).

What a gorgeous day! But strange.

First, just as we were about to step into the pickup, Jack and I, a jay began to call from the oaks out back. I looked up about the time it began to mimic the call of a broad-winged hawk. Expertly. It was indistinguishable. And I was actually watching the jay as it emitted the call. Incredible.

Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 June 2010.

Savannah sparrow.

Then, when we got to Beech Hill at the same time of morning as we did in the thick fog of yesterday (but conditions sunny, dry, and cool), instead of a red-eyed vireo, the first bird I heard was a crow. Then a chickadee. And a catbird. Not exactly the usual early list.

In fact, despite the lovely weather, my list had only a dozen species on it by the time we reached the top of the upper wooded trail. (Typically, lately, it’s had about twenty species by then.) Very quiet on the trail. Not a lot of insects. And the perhaps the oddest thing was I didn’t hear my first red-eyed vireo until just below Beech Nut. Crazy.

Never did list a phoebe, or a redstart, or a white-throated sparrow. Never did hear a jay. No raven. No Nashville warbler.

Cedar waxwing, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 June 2010.

Cedar waxwing.

But I heard at least three black-billed cuckoos—and spotted one. The first was calling from the big grove of popple on the eastern slope; the second was calling from the woods just north of the Beech Hill Road trail head; the third began calling—an odd, croaky call—as I was sneaking up on the location of a singing field sparrow (the most difficult-to-photograph bird of all up there, in my experience), in a birch along the trail. I turned to look for the cuckoo just as it flew down to the woods just north of the Beech Hill Road trail head. Come to think of it, maybe it was the same bird.

Still, adding twenty-one species after reaching the top of the wooded trail is highly unusual. Typically, I’ll ID more than half the day’s birds coming up that trail. But today there came the strains of a cardinal and titmouse and nuthatch, the appearance of a herring gull and hairy woodpecker, the voices of black-and-white, black-throated green, and black-throated blue warblers. No hawks or fowl today. But what a fine early hike.

Today’s afternoon bicycle ride proved a good workout: a stiff (20-mile-an-hour?) southwest wind made pedaling in one direction really easy, and in the other—excruciatingly hard.

Common yellowthroat (male), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 June 2010.

Common yellowthroat (male).

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 7:15 a.m., I walked all trails.

1. American crow
2. Black-capped chickadee
3. Gray catbird
4. Cedar waxwing
5. Chestnut-sided warbler
6. Common yellowthroat
7. Veery
8. Ovenbird (voice)
9. Eastern towhee
10. American robin
11. American goldfinch (voice)
12. Northern flicker (voice)
13. Mourning dove
14. Herring gull
15. Black-and-white warbler (voice)
16. Yellow warbler
17. Red-eyed vireo (voice)
18. Savannah sparrow
19. Song sparrow
20. Tree swallow
21. Field sparrow
22. Hermit thrush (voice)
23. Purple finch (voice)
24. Tufted titmouse (voice)
25. Black-billed cuckoo
26. Chipping sparrow (voice)
27. Northern cardinal (voice)
28. White-breasted nuthatch (voice)
29. Hairy woodpecker
30. Black-throated green warbler (voice)
31. Herring gull
32. Wood thrush (voice)
33. Black-throated blue warbler (voice)

Elsewhere

34. Blue jay
35. American redstart (voice)

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

Mourning dove atop Beech Nut.

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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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