Sunlight came softly through my window today. OK, I take that back—it came kind of brashly. Bright and insistent. “Shine on,” I thought, in honor of John Lennon’s 70th birthday. And so the sun roused me, which pleased Jack, who stretched and paused for a quick breakfast before we headed up to Beech Hill.
Figured we’d do the whole circuit, despite the Fall Tick Influx. And the wind rushed through the dwindling leaves of the hardwoods, and their leaves sprung loose, and the wood smelled great, and I heard the tseet! of a white-throated sparrow.
As opposed to the past couple days—when we hiked the open trail only—I had plenty of species coming up the hill. More yell0w-rumps, of course (hundreds of them) chipping from everywhere. A solitary palm warbler among the yell0w-rumps. A solitary catbird mewing. A flicker calling. A robin’s squee! The voices of a subcommittee of crows—and a single raven.
A couple times we stopped to pick off ticks. Probably picked eight or ten off me, a dozen or so off Jack, as ‘rumps chipped and chased around us.
Nearing the top, the upper wooded trail suddenly vanished in front of us. It was discombobulating: I didn’t recognize things. Then I noticed a tree had blown over, its crown falling directly in the center of the trail. It took a little effort to fore ourselves through.
At the open fields the wind really began to whip around, and I realized my hands were stinging. I’m not sure the temperature had yet reached 50 degrees (F). But what a lovely blue sky above a typical multi-colored fall landscape in Northern New England. A single small red tree stood before Beech Nut on the hill. Then a sharp-shinned hawk sped by on the wind and began to circle.
Returning up the open trail gave me a chance to warm up a bit—the morning sun in my face and the brisk wind behind me. Not long after beginning our descent of the lower wooded trail, Jack and I stopped, looked, and listened for about fifteen minutes, if not more. Yell0w-rumps everywhere. Chickadees. Brown creepers. I thought I heard the high, squeak of a black-throated blue. Also the tittering of a junco. But I couldn’t confirm those IDs—as I could the ruffed grouse that exploded from the pungent fall undergrowth as we passed.
Later today I swung by the Samoset Resort on word that wigeons and grebes were visiting one of the golf course ponds. A brilliant afternoon. Sure enough, a pair of pied-billed grebes preened and dove amid the mallards in the big pond. (No wigeons that I could see.) I even drove down the Breakwater road thinking I might scan the shore—but it held scores of cars, and more arriving, as my hardy neighbors pooh-poohed the chill for a Saturday walk out into Rockland Harbor.
In general, I like my hardy neighbors.
Beech Hill List
Beginning at 7:45 a.m., I hiked all trails.
1. White-throated sparrow (voice)
2. Black-capped chickadee
3. Yellow-rumped warbler
4. American robin (voice)
5. American crow
6. Common raven
7. American goldfinch (voice)
8. Gray catbird (voice)
9. Northern flicker (voice)
10. Palm warbler
11. Tufted titmouse (voice)
12. Sharp-shinned hawk
13. Blue jay
14. White-breasted nuthatch
15. Brown creeper (voice)
16. Hairy woodpecker (voice)
17. Ruffed grouse
18. Herring gull
19. Rock pigeon
20. Ring-billed gull
22. Pied-billed grebe