This was a foggy kind of day. Foggy enough to coat the lush greenery with water and cause a rush of tires on pavement. One of the first birds I saw was a bright male cardinal perched on the utility line out my kitchen window as I prepared breakfast. Others in evidence: house sparrow, song sparrow, house finch, catbird, yellow warbler, redstart.
The foggy day progressed. Gulls and crows in the sky, mourning doves about, chipmunks skittering across the roads. The fog would lift for a while then descend again. By the time dog and I began our daily Beech Hill hike, it had descended heavily, and I hadn’t much hope of any great bird activity. As I often am, I was wrong.
Not that birds were flitting about like crazy. But I heard most of the usual species right away—ovenbird, veery, catbird, vireo—as well as the eerily human-sounding voice of a young raven. And I even caught sight of a veery. Surely I wouldn’t see many more.
But I did. Saw both male and female yellowthroats chipping about in the undergrowth, no doubt feeding nestlings. Then as we came around one upper wooded turn in the trail, we startled a catbird, which flapped silently away and disappeared. At the summit, I heard song sparrows and a yellow warbler and towhees and, while rounding Beech Nut, the alarm notes of savannah sparrows. And then the birds themselves appeared. There were three of them today—two adults and a fledgling. They chipped from the tops of the staked around the fields and the edge of the roof of the hut. Then I had revelation: the savannahs had a nest on the sod roof this year, I’m sure of it.
I might’ve held off declaring this belief had I not seen the fledgling. Not that anyone would bother to climb up on the roof to pester the birds. But folks—young folks, no doubt—have climbed up there before, I know. The tip-off is how frequently I’ve seen them perched up there this year. As well as the persistent appearance of at least one bird about the hut. As well as the fact of the fledgling that fluttered down from there in the fog today.
I even got some decent photos of one of the adults. Implausibly.
Then, coming down the lower wooded trail, I spotted a hairy woodpecker. Within seconds, a robin flapped up out of nowhere and startled the woodpecker. And on the other side of the trail, a flicker suddenly rose, flashing its white rump. And in the flicker’s wake, an alder flycatcher leapt up onto a low perch. Four birds within a minute. And I actually caught sight of them all.
The rest I only heard: hermit thrush, parula, jay, and rose-breasted grosbeak. But my total of twenty-one was the highest in several days. And driving home I heard the song of a chipping sparrow.
I rather like a foggy kind of day.
Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5:30 p.m., I hiked the wooded trails.
1. Ovenbird (voice)
3. Gray catbird
4. Common yellowthroat
5. Red-eyed vireo (voice)
6. Chestnut-sided warbler (voice)
7. Common raven (voice)
8. American redstart (voice)
9. American robin
10. American goldfinch (voice)
11. Eastern towhee (voice)
12. Yellow warbler (voice)
13. Song sparrow
14. Savannah sparrow
15. Hairy woodpecker
16. Alder flycatcher
17. Northern flicker
18. Hermit thrush (voice)
19. Northern parula (voice)
20. Blue jay (voice)
21. Rose-breasted grosbeak (voice)
22. House finch
23. American crow
24. Northern cardinal
25. House sparrow
26. Herring gull
27. Mourning dove
28. Chipping sparrow
Tags: alder flycatcher, American crow, American goldfinch, American redstart, American robin, blue jay, chestnut-sided warbler, chipping sparrow, common raven, common yellowthroat, eastern towhee, gray catbird, hairy woodpecker, hermit thrush, herring gull, house finch, house sparrow, mourning dove, northern cardinal, northern flicker, northern parula, ovenbird, rose-breasted grosbeak, savannah sparrow, song sparrow, veery, yellow warbler