On this cool, dry, sunny day, I heard the calling of a jay. An uncommon first bird of the day, but there it was, hollering from across the road when I took Jack out first thing. Crows about also. Gulls in the cloudless sky. A whole series of dry, cloudless days are forecast for the week. Nice week for bike-rides.
One of which I took this afternoon. Not many roadside birds—other than crows. I can veer way over to the grass-side of the shoulder, and they’ll hardly pay me any attention at all.
Had some end-of-the-day errands in town, so Jack and I didn’t make to Beech Hill until about 6 p.m. En route, along Chickawaukie Lake, I saw a flicker, some mallards, and a few cormorants perched on a float. I also noticed that photoperiod is shortening noticeably: the sun hung much lower in the west as we started up the trail. Right away I heard titmice. Young birds offering their high-pitched squee! and adults emitting their usual scolding call. (An uncommon first bird on the hill.) As we stood listening—or at least I was listening—a pair flitted very near us, no more than a dozen feet away. Snapped some photos of one curious fellow.
On up the hill. No other hikers at that hour, though they would’ve had a lovely hike had they ventured up. Cool, a nip of breeze, a cloudless sky. Heard waxwings, crows, a goldfinch, a towhee—but not much else.
Down in the berry patch, I found about a dozen ripe blackberries and a calling waxwing. Actually, the waxwing was sitting at the tip of a small tree with a few berries of its own, soaking up the last orange rays of the sun. I watched it pluck three berries and swallow them. Looked like it might’ve been the same berries the vireos were dining on yesterday down by the road.
Returning, I heard the single chip note of a song sparrow and some chickadees in the trees. And I happened to notice a large green caterpillar crawling smack in the middle of the trail. Got some shots of it and looked it up later: the larva of an io moth. (Even took a close-up video that I might post here at some point.)
Tonight seems chillier than last night, which I suppose isn’t unusual for the waning days of August on the 44th parallel. Kids are starting school, Halloween candy is showing up in the supermarkets (already?), and in just a few short weeks will come the equinox. And fall migration.
Sweet, busy days ahead.
Beech Hill List
Beginning at 6 p.m., I hiked the open trail.
1. Tufted titmouse
2. American crow (voice)
3. Cedar waxwing
4. Eastern towhee (voice)
5. American goldfinch (voice)
6. Song sparrow (voice)
7. Black-capped chickadee
8. Blue jay
9. Herring gull
10. Rock pigeon
11. Northern cardinal
12. House sparrow
13. Northern flicker
15. Double-crested cormorant
Tags: American crow, American goldfinch, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, Cedar waxwing, double-crested cormorant, eastern towhee, herring gull, house sparrow, mallard, northern cardinal, northern flicker, rock pigeon, song sparrow, tufted titmouse