30 June 2022

Quiet day

Thursday, September 1st, 2011
Cedar waxwing, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 01 September 2011.

Cedar waxwing.

September is upon us. Some see the start of the ninth month as an ending of sorts—the end of summer impending, the cooler days portentous, the telltale appearance of red in the leaves at the ends of tree branches. I greet this time of year with nervous excitement. Better get busy. Harvest. Split the wood. Break out the warmer clothes. Get ready for college football and the new TV season. Prepare for fall migration.

Blackberries, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 01 September 2011.


In a few short weeks, I’ll be hanging out on Monhegan engaging in some crazy fall birding. Meantime, I’ll be soaking up the lull.

A cool, clear day. For various reasons, I didn’t get out all day. Didn’t go cycling, didn’t even check my mail. In fact, I first left the premises at closing time, when Jack and I made our routine way the few miles over to Beech Hill. By that time, I hadn’t seen or heard a single bird.

En route, I did spot a mourning dove perched on a utility line. And as we emerged into the parking lot, I heard some insistent chipping from somewhere. The trees? The undergrowth? (I find I have trouble these days gauging the vertical direction of birdsong.) Took a minute, but I finally found the source of the chipping, which I could’ve kicked myself for not recognizing on first listen: a little family of cardinals scrambling around in the low brush. From the middle distance came the voices of chickadees.

Blue sky, scattered cirrus clouds, a chilly eastern breeze. I could’ve worn a sweater and been comfortable—not that I felt uncomfortable in my T-shirt. Spotted a couple of waxwings calling from the tips of trees. Heard a crow or two.

No catbird, though. No towhee. I did hear the chips of warblers in two places, but none that I could with certainty identify.

Feather on the trail, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 01 September 2011.

Feather on the trail.

Down in the berry patch, I found plenty of blackberries still. And blueberries—although they seem close to over-ripe. Suddenly, a flicker bounded up off the trail (exactly as one did a couple days ago). Saw a goldfinch fly over.

Not until we were nearing the end of our hike did I ID another bird: a white-throated sparrow in a brushy trailside area. Then the husky chip! of a yellowthroat.

And that was it.

Returning home, I saw a solitary herring gull soaring over the road. I’d been looking for one, figured I’d see one—but didn’t figure I’d only see exactly one.

Tonight the temperature has dipped into the 50s (F). A quite day, all in all.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 5 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Northern cardinal
2. Black-capped chickadee (voice)
3. Cedar waxwing
4. American crow (voice)
5. Northern flicker
6. American goldfinch
7. White-throated sparrow (voice)
8. Common yellowthroat (voice)


9. Mourning dove
10. Herring gull

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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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