20 May 2024


Saturday, October 30th, 2010
Dark-eyed junco, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 October 2010.

Dark-eyed junco.

The day dawned brilliantly sunny and cold. I made a quick playdate for Jack with my friend D’s dog, Boone, since the two of them hadn’t seen each other for many months. Also, seeing as how we’d be headed to Birch Point Beach State Park, it meant Jack could run around without a leash for a while. Woo-hoo!

Horned grebe, Birch Point Beach State Park, Owls Head, Maine, 30 October 2010.

Horned grebe.

As the four of us headed to shore, a cloak of clouds moved over, and I heard several golden-crowned kinglets up in the boughs of the spruces. Also chickadees. And juncos—ever-present this time of year, it seems. As we approached the beach, right away I saw a lone grebe diving not too far offshore: a horned grebe in half-molt such that it very much resembled a red-necked (which I’ve seen in these parts before), but its bill was pretty small. Beyond the grebe, a loon dove. And in the periphery were herring gulls and eiders.

It was a lovely, brisk, carefree hike—right until we got talking with a neighbor who confirmed that today was, in fact, the first day of deer season. With rifles. That explained the gunfire we’d heard shortly before and also convinced us to change our route from a wooded one to a return trip along the road. Jack got appropriately tuckered out and enjoyed his time with Boone immensely.

We finished our shore hike in late morning and headed directly to Beech Hill. The day had become partly sunny by then, and the landscape is now a deep rich, rust color.

Northern harrier, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 October 2010.

Northern harrier.

Not many birds right off. I heard a white-throated sparrow. As we made the first turn, a small flock of robins flapped above us, southwest-bound. Then I saw a big bird—a harrier—floating up toward the summit. Then another. A pair of harriers. They dipped below the ridgeline, so I ran with Jack up the steep trail in hopes of photos. (I have a secret wish to grab a decent photo of a harrier.) Fired off a few pictures, but none turned out that great. Still, at the summit, one of the birds had apparently circled around, so I fired off a couple more. And then I thought I saw it again high in the southeast sky—but this bird was hovering, hanging motionless in the air, flapping only occasionally. I saw through my binoculars that this one was a red-tailed hawk. And there, beyond it, a second. So I fired off a few distant photos of red-tails.

Returning, we heard—then saw—a raven. And a solitary (odd) junco pecking about the edge of the trail. And coming back down the steep slope, I caught sight of a huge bird soaring over to the north, its giant wings pulled in for speed: an immature bald eagle.

Only eight species on the hill today, and three of them were raptors.

Red-tailed hawk, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 October 2010.

Red-tailed hawk.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 11:45 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. White-throated sparrow (voice)
2. American robin
3. Northern harrier
4. American crow
5. Red-tailed hawk
6. Common raven
7. Dark-eyed junco
8. Bald eagle


9. Golden-crowned kinglet
10. Black-capped chickadee
11. Horned grebe
12. Common loon
13. Herring gull
14. Common eider
15. Mourning dove

Inland hills, from Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 October 2010.

Inland hills.

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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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