14 July 2020 Rockport, Maine, USA 

A day in late March

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
American robin, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 March 2011.

American robin in sumac.

Crows woke me up. Soon after, I heard a singing house finch. The morning was another bright one, with hardly any clouds.

A little nippy first thing, but the temperature warmed, slowly but surely, to the point that I didn’t even wear a jacket to my midday dental appointment. At which, I might add, I increased my net worth (another gold crown). Returning, I spotted a couple of turkey vultures soaring over the big cement plant quarry in Thomaston.

The upper wooded trail, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 March 2011.

The upper wooded trail.

When the temperature approached 50 degrees (F), I couldn’t resist—I stripped and donned my biking attire and took off on a 14-mile ride. (Not lost on me was the forecast for a possible April Fool’s Day snowstorm upcoming.) Robins, song sparrows, gulls, crows. It was a great ride.

Then I got out of my bike clothes, finished up some work, put on my hiking shoes, grabbed Jack, and we drove over to the wooded Beech Hill trail.

Oddly, the first species on today’s list was herring gull: I heard a few crying over at the nearby cow farm (I gather). Then the usual robins. Chickadees. Fox sparrows still—singing sweetly—and the whistling wings of a mourning dove. We also passed a couple of teenaged kids hiking up. They were playfully, joyfully loud, which kind of took me aback, as we heard their voices off in the woods pretty much the whole way up the hill. At the summit, a bright-sounding bird flew over. Flutey notes. It landed in the top of a tree, I trained my binoculars on it, then snapped a couple photos. Very orange in the afternoon sun. I thought it might even be an oriole—but so soon?

Later, when I looked at my (distant)  photos, I recognized it as a robin.

Green emerging, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 March 2011.

Green emerging.

Coming down, I heard a brown creeper’s note. Than a distant cardinal singing. Then, suddenly, the rapid flap-flap-flap of wings—a grouse? We stopped and both looked toward the sound. And I saw a large bird swooping quickly through the trees. At once it dropped down, and the woods erupted in a loud crashing and clattering. An owl? A hawk. We waited. (Jack was interested, too.) Finally, the big bird ascended again and lit on a tree branch maybe a hundred feet away. It was hidden by a trunk, but I trained my binocs on it and could see its head. A hawk. I think a red-tailed. It had nothing in its talons, that I could see. Had it gone after a rising grouse? One of the many robins up there? Who knows. But as I took a few steps to get a better look, it rose and flew handsomely away to the northeast.

Nearing the parking lot, I heard the faint notes of a nuthatch.

Returning home, we drove past some doves on the roadway. And then a flock of small birds scattered away ahead of us, showing white-edged tailfeathers. Juncos.

Tonight, out on the back deck, I heard the occasional peent! of a woodcock, its call fading in and out. On a particular twilight years ago, soon after I moved to Maine, I snuck up on a woodcock (not knowing what the heck it was) and got a good look at it calling. It would open its long bill, send out a peent!, turn a little, call again, turn a little more, call again. Counter-clockwise, as I recall, I guess just making sure it covered all directions. That’s what would explain the in-and-out fading.

I really love those funny-looking little guys.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5:30 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails.

1. Herring gull (voice)
2. American robin
3. Black-capped chickadee
4. Fox sparrow
5. Mourning dove
6. Brown creeper (voice)
7. Northern cardinal (voice)
8. Red-tailed hawk
9. White-breasted nuthatch (voice)


10. American crow
11. House finch
12. House sparrow
13. Turkey vulture
14. Dark-eyed junco
15. American woodcock

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Bird Report is an intermittent record of what's outside my window in Rockport, Maine, USA (44°08'N latitude, 69°06'W longitude), and vicinity. —Brian Willson

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