26 May 2022

Oh, well

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Common yellowthroat (female), Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 28 June 2011.

Common yellowthroat (female).

So, I’d just begun hiking the wooded Beech Hill trail with Jack, and we’d come around the little ferny trail to the brook, when an American redstart flitted up into a small branch maybe thirty feet away. It was an adult male, black with red highlights. A lovely bird. I raised my camera and was quickly focusing in—it was right there in my viewfinder—when it vanished. Damn.

Oh, well.

Common yellowthroat (male, Beech Hill, Rockport, 28 June 2011).

Common yellowthroat (male).

Not long after, as we came through a brushy area just below the upper fields, I heard the sudden song of a black-and-white warbler just ahead of us. We stopped, and I began walking very slowly (as is my instinct) until I saw the bird fly across into the trunks of some small trees. I readied my camera. And then I saw the bird zip away—and then, a few moments later, sing again from the thick greenery downhill from us.

Oh, well.

Then a little bird appeared just above us in the crown of a diminutive tree—a yellow warbler. I aimed, focused… nothing there.

That’s just the way it goes.

As one with a slight obsession with photographing wild birds, I’ve learned to live with little disappointments. And today was full of ’em. But when I look back to past losses in my life—the broken hearts, the missed opportunities—I can finally simply smile and shake my head. It’s taken a while. But loss and disappointment is a part of life. Everyone’s life. I suppose those of us who live long enough learn to accept the little pangs and move on. You get that familiar sinking feeling. And then you turn around and get on with it.

I have a feeling these will be my famous last words: “Oh, well.”

Not a bad day, weather-wise. A little sun, a lot of hazy overcast. Mild, with not a lot of wind. I got a lot of good work done. I had a wonderful bicycle ride (warblers, sparrows, gulls). And dog and I had a good hike up Beech Hill—where I got a couple pictures of yellowthroats, despite the missed chances.

And this cool night offers gifts of fireflies in the trees.

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

1. American goldfinch
2. Black-throated green warbler (voice)
3. Chestnut-sided warbler (voice)
4. Veery
5. Red-eyed vireo (voice)
6. American redstart
7. Ovenbird (voice)
8. Gray catbird (voice)
9. Common yellowthroat
10. Eastern towhee (voice)
11. American crow (voice)
12. Yellow warbler
13. Black-and-white warbler
14. Purple finch (voice)
15. Song sparrow
16. Cedar waxwing
17. American robin
18. Hermit thrush (voice)
19. Common raven (voice)


20. House finch
21. House sparrow
22. Laughing gull
23. Herring gull
24. Mourning dove
25. Chipping sparrow
26. Northern cardinal

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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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