30 June 2022

Vapor trails

Monday, November 29th, 2010
Birch, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 November 2010.


There were no clouds in the sky today—at least none that I laid eyes on. The only white, wispy shapes I could see overhead were vapor trails from high-flying jetliners. It’s truly eye-opening, just how many planes fly over these parts in a day.

Vapor trail, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 November 2010.

Vapor trail.

Was kind of a semi-frustrating Monday-after-a-holiday-weekend, work-wise: phones ringing, urgent email messages. Even a fax, by God. But I managed to extricate myself at high noon to take my dog on a hike.

A single vehicle greeted us in the Beech Hill Road parking lot. Quietly murmuring chickadees greeted us from the trees. The footing of the trail lay hard from last night’s freeze but had gone slick with mud in spots. We met a solitary hiker descending; the sun flooded brightly down. Crows cawed from the periphery, and at least a half-dozen vapor trails bisected the empty blue.

Not a lot of wind. In fact, when viewed from the summit, the bay spread calm and clean and variegated with pale, slick swaths on its surface. I decided to descend to the edge of the wood on the sunny eastern trail. First heard then saw a pair of flickers—the same pair from yesterday?—bouncing along above and in front of us. Then noticed that there were three. Chickadees were pecking about quietly here also, calling only enough to keep tabs on the others.

The bay, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 November 2010.

The bay.

At the edge of the wooded section, I spotted a hairy woodpecker—a female, like yesterday’s, but much higher on the hill—and watched it knock bark around for a while. In the southern sky, more vapor trails appeared. Seems most planes, at this time of day, at least, were headed in that direction.

We returned to the summit and continued over without pause as another hiking party ascended.

About halfway down, I turned back to the east and saw what at first appeared to be an aircraft—but then immediately turned into a hovering hawk. An adult redtail. We reversed direction for a bit just to check, but it’d apparently flown.

At the bottom of the hill I looked up it again at the same moment a solitary raven was flying down. A silent bird on some kind of mission. We all have our missions, I guess.

Elsewhere, gull and dove and pigeon. I also heard house sparrow and jay.

Tonight is equally cloudless, it seems, judging by Jupiter, Orion, and Sirius.

Raven, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 November 2010.


Beech Hill List
Beginning at 12 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Black-capped chickadee
2. American crow (voice)
3. Northern flicker
4. Hairy woodpecker
5. Red-tailed hawk
6. Common raven


7. House sparrow
8. Blue jay
9. Herring gull
10. Mourning dove
11. Rock pigeon

Birch bark, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 November 2010.

Birch bark.

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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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