This was a crisp, clear one. Dog and I dilly-dallied a bit but made it to the hill by late in the morning. It being a Sunday—a non-hunting day—I figured we’d start at the wooded trail for a change.
The wooded landscape, being mostly bare now, seemed especially bright and naked. We heard chickadees and crows right away. The little stand of poplar at the curve by the stone where yellow-rumped warblers nest in spring looked stark and yellow-gray. As I stood taking photos of the many small trunks there, a big bird—some kind of owl, I feel sure (barred?)—suddenly took wing and flew low and silently through the trees. I followed it with my eyes to a barely visible distant perch but couldn’t get a clear enough look through binoculars to tell for sure what species.
It sure felt good to be in the woods, though, hiking up a hill in November, working up a sweat in near freezing temperatures. More chickadees. A distant blue jay. And along the last open stretch before the summit, a pair of flickers flapping and dipping away, a pair of white rumps flashing.
Beech Nut had icicles hanging from its eastern roof-edge. The hill, the sea, the world seemed bright and spare and lovely.
Coming over and down, we met a few other walking parties, as well as a solo hiker. Dogs were present, all leashed. No hawks, no sparrows, no other birds of note. Just an expansive blue sky and a bit of wind and an invigorating chill.
More chickadees here and there. We turned around and ascended again. Not so much as an interesting cloud—just the whole world seemed interesting today.
Descending through the woods again, we took the lower trail, as usual. The big dead spruce still blocked the path, but I have no doubt it’ll be cleared away soon. (Walking around it is easy enough.) The muddy stretches weren’t so bad, now that ice encroaches. Then about half-way down, I heard a sound like a falsetto human cry. We stopped. I heard it again. A raven. I scanned the distant sky through the bare trunks of the hardwoods and caught sight of the big black bird itself, flying and calling, headed southeast. I love the multifarious calls of the common raven.
Minutes later, I heard the sibilant voice of a creeper, although I never did see the bird.
And soon after that, I heard the squeal of a woodpecker—and a female hairy lit on a tree trunk not many meters away. It poked cooperatively around in the bark, grabbing grubs, as I snapped off several photos.
By the time we got back to the parking lot, it was full. Two or three new groups of people were embarking on their own hikes with their own dogs. A couple old men sat inexplicably in pickups, one with its engine running. I knocked the mud off my hiking sneaks and we headed on back home.
Otherwise, not much to report—except for herring gulls, rock pigeons, and a wondrously clear sky tonight.
Beech Hill List
Beginning at 11:15 a.m., I hiked all trails.
1. Black-capped chickadee
2. American crow (voice)
3. Owl (sp.)
4. Blue jay (voice)
5. Northern flicker
6. Common raven
7. Brown creeper (voice)
8. Hairy woodpecker
8. Herring gull
9. Rock pigeon