24 June 2024

Posts Tagged ‘northern oriole’

Overcast woodland world

Sunday, June 13th, 2010
Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 13 June 2010.

Savannah sparrow.

Up early for a bicycle ride with some bike-riding pals. The line on the weather was for a slight chance of rain—but we had no rain over the course of four-plus hours. Overcast, a little hazy sun, some fog, but no rain. Notably, my back tire went flat twice (likely my own fault for not finding the source of the first flat), and I ended up walking the last couple miles. Happy to say that was after 42-some-odd miles ridden through northern Knox and southern Waldo County. It was a good time.

Common yellowthroat, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 13 June 2010.

Common yellowthroat.

Plus, I listed more than a bird species a mile. It’s cool to ride through assorted wooded landscapes—some hardwoods, some mixed-growth, some coniferous—with their resident, singing wood warblers, and then pant up a long hill to a wide, open field, with bobolinks, cowbirds, and grackles. Beyond birds, we passed: many chipmunks crossing the road, just missing our front tires; a handsome fox standing on a side road, watching us ride by; a good-sized snapping turtle on the edge of a quiet lane, having apparently just crossed and then decided to pause there and contemplate the lush late-spring greenery it was about to dive into. Or, more likely, she was simply looking for a place to lay her eggs.

I like riding my bike alone—and, interestingly, actually enjoy riding with a few like-minded cyclists even more.

Then Jack and I walked Beech Hill. Late morning. Overcast. Mosquitos and deerflies on the wooded trail. Also the more common warblers, sparrows, and flycatchers. I brought my digital recorder today in hopes of catching the calls of cuckoos, but no cuckoos today. I did hear a cardinal and see a herring gull. Thirty species heard or seen in all.

And again, many were feeding their youngsters. The savannah sparrows, in fact, were pissed when we walked near their nests on the open trails. They came near, they chipped angrily, I took a few photos, then we left them alone. Yellowthroats, too, were antic as we passed.

Along the wooded trails, thrushes sang their mystical, echoey songs. In the distance I heard an eastern wood-pewee. Ovenbirds and red-eyed vireos, of course. And a solitary black-and-white warbler added its voice to the moody, luscious, overcast woodland world.

Chestnut-sided warbler, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 13 June 2010.

Chestnut-sided warbler.

Bike Ride List
Beginning at 6 a.m., I rode 42 miles through two counties.
(Not in order of sighting.)

1. Ovenbird (voice)
2. Chestnut-sided warbler (voice)
3. Yellow warbler (voice)
4. Common yellowthroat (voice)
5. American redstart (voice)
6. Black-throated green warbler (voice)
7. Black-throated blue warbler (voice)
8. Northern parula (voice)
9. Black-and-white warbler (voice)
10. Nashville warbler (voice)
11. Blackburnian warbler (voice)
12. House sparrow
13. Song sparrow
14. Chipping sparrow (voice)
15. White-throated sparrow (voice)
16. Eastern towhee (voice)
17. American goldfinch
18. Purple finch (voice)
19. Rose-breasted grosbeak (voice)
20. Northern cardinal (voice)
21. Red-eyed vireo (voice)
22. Veery (voice)
23. Wood thrush (voice)
24. Hermit thrush (voice)
25. American robin
26. Blue jay (voice)
27. Tufted titmouse (voice)
28. Black-capped chickadee
29. Canada goose
30. Gray catbird
31. Alder flycatcher (voice)
32. Eastern phoebe (voice)
33. Great crested flycatcher (voice)
34. Eastern wood-pewee (voice)
35. Northern oriole
36. Red-winged blackbird
37. Common grackle
38. Brown-headed cowbird (voice)
39. European starling
40. Bobolink
41. American crow
42. Mourning dove
43. Rock pigeon
44. Cedar waxwing
45. Tree swallow
46. Chimney swift (voice)
47. Kestrel

Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 13 June 2010.

Savannah sparrow.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 11:15 a.m., I walked all trails.

Red-eyed vireo (voice)
Ovenbird (voice)
Chestnut-sided warbler
American robin
Gray catbird
Eastern towhee
Cedar waxwing
American goldfinch
American redstart (voice)
Common yellowthroat
Veery (voice)
American crow
Tree swallow
Song sparrow
Alder flycatcher (voice)
Mourning dove
48. Savannah sparrow
49. Herring gull
Yellow warbler (voice)
Rose-breasted grosbeak (voice)
White-throated sparrow (voice)
Chipping sparrow (voice)
Eastern phoebe (voice)
Northern cardinal (voice)
Blue jay (voice)
Great crested flycatcher (voice)
Hermit thrush (voice)
Eastern wood-pewee (voice)
Black-capped chickadee (voice)
Black-and-white warbler (voice)


50. House finch (voice)

Mourning dove, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 13 June 2010.

Mourning dove atop Beech Nut.

Feeding frenzy

Friday, June 11th, 2010
Savannah sparrow and mystery bird, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 11 June 2010.

Savannah sparrow and mystery bird.

It was cool and sunny and still
When dog and I got to Beech Hill.

I’d thought about bringing my digital recorder this morning, and I sort of wish I had. For one thing, I would’ve gotten some great cuckoo calls.

Eastern towhee, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 11 June 2010.

Eastern towhee.

The idea of cuckoos hadn’t occurred to me. I’d seen a solitary, silent black-billed cuckoo a few weeks back, but that was it. What I expected was—well, I sort of expected a dearth of birds. What with it getting along toward mid-June, I expected a lot of hidden activity: less birdsong, secretiveness, random alarm notes, the raspy voices of hatchlings. And I got a lot of  that, too. I bet I missed six or eight great photos because the birds just refused to sit still.

But mostly what I got today was parents worried about children. Adults wishing to feed their young, thank you very much. Birds with mouthfuls of bugs. Towhees and sparrows, mostly—but also robins and yellowthroats and chickadees and chestnut-sided warblers.

Song sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 11 June 2010.

Song sparrow.

And, suddenly, cuckoos. Not cuckoos with young—just cuckoos. First, oddly, I saw one in flight crossing the open trail in front of us. (I’d thought it was a kestrel or something at first.) And soon after it lit in the thick foliage of a trailside tree, I heard the cu-cu-cu of another individual coming from a wooded area down by Beech Hill Road. And it occurred to me: black-billed cuckoos’ voices, although they seem soft and subtle, are actually quite loud and carry great distances. There’s something almost supernatural about them.

Then I heard another cuckoo down  by the Beech Hill Road parking lot. And I saw another one in flight. Four cuckoos. You might even call it a wave.

Coming back up over the hill, a savannah sparrow with a caterpillar in its beak posed for photos against various backdrops: the bay, Beech Nut, the field, the sky. Later, in one photo, I couldn’t help but notice what was apparently a large blurry bird swooping along far in the background. What was it? A harrier? Some other hawk? A turkey vulture? Some random bird? I’ll never know, I guess.

Not long after our return home, in perhaps the most surprising, thrilling birding moment of the day, I heard the clear, distinctive whistle of an oriole through the back window, coming from somewhere up in the shady, green-leaved trees.

Cedar waxwing, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 11 June 2010.

Cedar waxwing.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 6:30 a.m., I walked all trails.

1. Ovenbird
2. Red-eyed vireo
3. Chestnut-sided warbler
4. American robin
5. Common yellowthroat
6. Eastern towhee
7. Black-capped chickadee
8. American crow
9. American goldfinch
10. Blue jay
11. Northern cardinal
12. Gray catbird
13. Alder flycatcher
14. Yellow warbler
15. American redstart
16. Cedar waxwing
17. Savannah sparrow
18. Veery
19. Tree swallow
20. Song sparrow
21. Eastern phoebe
22. Tufted titmouse
23. Field sparrow
24. Black-billed cuckoo
25. White-throated sparrow
26. Chipping sparrow
27. Rose-breasted grosbeak
28. Eastern wood-pewee
29. Black-throated blue warbler
30. Unidentified woodpecker
31. Black-throated green warbler
32. White-breasted nuthatch
33. Mourning dove


34. House sparrow
35. House finch
36. Herring gull
37. Northern oriole

Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 11 June 2010.

Savannah sparrow.

Dead bird report

Monday, May 31st, 2010
Dead cedar waxwing, Monhegan Island, Maine, 31 May 2010.

Dead cedar waxwing.

Earlier this month, the Alaotra grebe—a small species from Madagascar—was declared extinct. On Monhegan this morning, I got a look at the preserved remains of a lovely cedar waxwing that’d run into a window and died. (Note: an estimated 100 million or more birds die in the U.S. each year from running into windows.) Then on a hike through Cathedral Woods this afternoon, my friends Kristen and Paul and I came upon a whimsical memorial to a dead wood-warbler.

Ovenbird memorial, Monhegan Island, Maine, 31 May 2010.

Ovenbird memorial.

This particular trail in the woods is known for its tiny “fairy houses” made of bark and twigs and lichen and spruce cones. And this particular house had a makeshift cross, a snail shell, and a sort of lean-to holding the corpse of a lovely ovenbird. I can hardly express how touching this was to stumble upon on Memorial Day.

A number of house cats—including an exotic breed or two—stalk the yards of Monhegan, and no doubt a few kill birds. In fall, the island gets by peregrine falcons and other raptors, efficient machines for murder. And, sure, every living thing dies. But it sticks with you when you view the dead bodies of more than one recently living bird in one twenty-four-hour period. It sticks with me, at least.

White-eyed vireo, Monhegan Island, Maine, 31 May 2010.

White-eyed vireo.

So it’s with somewhat deeper appreciation that I counted forty-five living species this warm, summer-like spring day on Monhegan—including plenty of living waxwings (about a hundred). Also including a white-eyed vireo (a lifer for me), a bird Kristen and I tracked down in a thicket off the Burnt Head trail; obligingly, it hopped up onto a dead branch just as I raised my camera. Three individual birds were most discussed this weekend: Saturday’s western kingbird, the white-eyed vireo, and an olive-sided flycatcher reportedly seen in the same area as the vireo. We tried for what one birder called the “all-excited flycatcher” but saw and heard only a bunch of alders. Oh, well.

One interesting aspect of this trip were two thirteen-year-old Maine birders—long-time friends—who really knew their stuff. One of the boys got nice photos of the white-eyed, and the other ended the day with a sighting of a black-billed cuckoo. I believe they both photographed the wayward western kingbird. And this afternoon, on the boat back inshore, they both stood with me in the bow snapping photos of northern gannets.

The northern gannets, by the way, were very much alive.

Northern oriole, Monhegan Island, Maine, 31 May 2010.

Northern oriole.

Monhegan List
(Numbered for full trip; not in order of listing.)

55. White-eyed vireo**
56. Northern flicker (voice)
57. Spotted sandpiper*
58. White-throated sparrow (voice)
American robin
Cedar waxwing
Red-breasted nuthatch
House wren
Winter wren (voice)
Carolina wren
Magnolia warbler
Alder flycatcher
Golden-crowned kinglet (voice)
Double-crested cormorant
Herring gull
Great black-backed gull
Laughing gull
Common eider
Black guillemot
American goldfinch
White-winged crossbill
Ring-necked pheasant (voice)
American crow
Common grackle
Red-winged blackbird
European starling
Purple finch (voice)
Common yellowthroat
Yellow warbler
American redstart
Black-throated green warbler (voice)
Blackpoll warbler (voice)
Gray catbird
Mourning dove
Black-capped chickadee
Northern oriole
Brown thrasher
Northern cardinal (voice)
Eastern kingbird
Alder flycatcher
Eastern wood-pewee (voice)
Song sparrow
Blue jay (voice)
Osprey (voice)


Northern gannet
Bald eagle
Tufted titmouse (voice)

*First-of-year bird.
**Life bird.

Northern gannet, Muscongus Bay, Maine, 31 May 2010.

Northern gannet, living and breathing.

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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