24 June 2024

Posts Tagged ‘yellow-breasted chat’

Christmas Count adventures

Saturday, December 19th, 2015
Purple Sandpiper, Rockland Breakwater, Rockland, Maine, 19 December 2015.

Purple Sandpiper.

Up early for the annual National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for our neck of the woods. This year, we diverged a bit from our customary first leg—the Rockland Breakwater—to make sure we recorded a noteworthy bird in our region: a Yellow-throated Warbler that had been seen for the past several days on the grounds of the Samoset Resort. Got it.

Common Ravens, Samoset Resort, Rockport, Maine, 19 December 2015.

Common Ravens.

The weather was balmy compared to most CBCs I remember—low- to mid-30s (F). (Typically, it seems like it’s been 12 degrees with a high wind.) But that meant odd birds, and not that many of ’em. Instead of a dozen or so Purple Sandpipers, for instance, we got one. Instead of fifty-plus species, we got forty-something. Since I never do the afternoon trip, I got thirty-four.

But those included two “warblers”: the yellow-throated and a Yellow-breasted Chat (arguably not really a warbler)—only the second of that species I’ve ever seen. Also a pair of vocal ravens flew over, and we had a little flurry of bird activity near the cemetery, and we counted about a hundred coots.

Ring-billed Gull, Samoset Resort, Rockport, Maine, 19 December 2015.

Ring-billed Gull.

Afterward, I rescued a house-bound Jack and we took a quick Beech Hill hike. Only two species up there today.

Windy as hell tonight.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 2:15 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. American Crow* (v)
2. Black-capped Chickadee* (v)


3. American Goldfinch
4. Herring Gull
5. Mallard
6. House Sparrow
7. Common Raven
8. Yellow-throated Warbler
9. Ring-billed Gull
10. Canada Goose
11. Common Eider
12. Red-necked Grebe
13. Horned Grebe
14. White-breasted Nuthatch
15. American Black Duck
16. Great Black-backed Gull
17. Long-tailed Duck
18. Surf Scoter
19. Purple Sandpiper
20. Black Guillemot
21. Great Cormorant
22. Bufflehead
23. Yellow-breasted Chat
24. Rock Pigeon
25. Tufted Titmouse
26. Brown Creeper
27. Downy Woodpecker
28. Red-tailed Hawk
29. Hairy Woodpecker
30. Common Goldeneye
31. Bonaparte’s Gull
32. American Coot

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere

Owls Head Light, from the Rockland Breakwater, Rockland, Maine, 19 December 2015.

Owls Head Light.

Two hikes

Monday, June 10th, 2013
Common yellowthroat, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 10 June 2013.

Common yellowthroat.

To bed late again, but up early enough for some decent bird time. Another wandering turkey, a rose-breasted grosbeak, a hummingbird in my ear, the lovely call of the wood-pewee. But by the time Jack and I reached the (still) mostly sunny upper fields, I’d slowed our pace in case the yellow-breasted chat had hung around. And it had. Like yesterday, I heard it first—then spotted its bright yellow breast as it perched for a moment emitting its crazy collection of intermittent tweets and chatters.

Eastern wood-pewee, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 10 June 2013.

Eastern wood-pewee.

No great photo today, though.

At the summit I met a couple of brothers out for a sunny hike to a summit with a view, and we talked a while. As we did, a turkey vulture and a broad-wing soared by, a Savannah sparrow called, and a pair of chimney swifts chittered overhead. I told the story of the chat, of course.

I mentioned it also to my friend Kristen, whom I figured might want to track it down. Sure enough, in afternoon, after the sky had gone gray and the air had cooled, we met on the hill and hurried to the overgrowth where the chat had been hanging around. But we couldn’t find it, alas. (I did add a couple birds to today’s list, at least.)

One last note about today’s Beech Hill hike: I’m crazy about the little eastern wood-pewee. A plain little forest bird, but one that will perch dependably on a miniature snag and sing it’s slow, leisurely, pensive, happy-sad song. I paused to listen to three of them today.

Beech Hill List
At 8 a.m., I hiked the wooded trail; at 2:30 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Red-eyed vireo**
2. Ovenbird** (v)
3. Wild turkey
4. Eastern wood-pewee
5. Chestnut-sided warbler**
6. American robin**
7. American redstart**
8. American crow*
9. Rose-breasted grosbeak (v)
10. Black-and-white warbler (v)
11. Black-capped chickadee (v)
12. Yellow warbler**
13. Alder flycatcher (v)
14. Eastern towhee
15. Ruby-throated hummingbird (humming)
16. Northern flicker
17. Common yellowthroat**
18. Yellow-breasted chat
19. Tree swallow
20. Gray catbird
21. Song sparrow**
22. American goldfinch (v)
23. Eastern phoebe**
24. Turkey vulture
25. Broad-winged hawk
26. Chimney swift
27. Savannah sparrow (v)
28. Herring gull*
29. Chipping sparrow**
30. Black-throated green warbler (v)
31. Hermit thrush (v)
32. Common raven (v)
33. Hairy woodpecker (v)
34. Purple finch (v)
35. Blue jay (v)


36. House finch
37. Mourning dove
38. Common grackle
39. Tufted titmouse

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere



Sunday, June 9th, 2013
Yellow-breasted chat, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 09 June 2013.

Yellow-breasted chat.

One cool thing about birding is you never know what you’re going to get. Every now and then you even get a lifer.

Yellow-breasted chat, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 09 June 2013.

Yellow-breasted chat.

Stayed up late playing my Fender for a change, so I slept in, took my time making breakfast, puttered around, worked some. Was overcast early, but it cleared up and got sort of warm and breezy, so I grabbed Jack and we took our hike in high afternoon. Mixed it up a bit, too, since a couple other folks pulled in just after us: we took the lower trail up for a change, so my list is a little backwards. Ovenbirds, vireos, pewees, hermit thrush—even a solitary turkey waddling quickly up the trail far ahead of us.

Coming around the usually fruitful margin between the woods and fields, where yellowthroats and catbirds were calling, I heard something a little off. More than a little off, really—I even thought the people I saw way up on the trail ahead of us might’ve been birders playing some kind of song. But it wasn’t the people, there was an unfamiliar bird in there. Solo chips and whistles, followed by a rapid, insistent pish-pish-pish-pish-pish! For some reason the idea of a yellow-breasted chat came to mind.

Maybe it came to mind because I knew a little about the bird, had heard recordings of its call, knew it liked brushy habitat of the sort I was looking at on a sunny afternoon. Probably it had to do with the fact that I’d never seen one before. At least twice I’d missed fall chat sightings out on Monhegan. Once I ditched a Christmas Count right before a chat showed up. Nope, never seen one. So we left the trail and approached the large bush the bird was calling from. I even thought I saw something flitting around in there. But then it went silent. For many minutes. Dang.

Northern green frog, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 09 June 2013.

Northern green frog.

Finally, I gave up and we continued our ascent—where we encountered a green frog sitting in the middle of the trail—and walked over the hill and down the other side, where a broad-winged hawk was circling and calling squeee!

But I couldn’t shake the idea of the mystery bird, so on our return, approaching the section of trail where I’d heard it about a half hour before, we slowed. And it occurred to me to try pishing in its general direction—assuming it was still there. Sure enough, the pishing got a squawk or two, and some chatters. It had only moved a few bushes away.

I figured it had to be a chat, but I didn’t trust my memory of its call. Then I realized I had an app of the songs of warblers on my iPhone. I thought maybe there was a chat on there. And there was. So I played it’s song, and—yeah, no question that was a chat out there.

And then, apparently reacting to the warbler app, the bird burst out of the bush and flew toward us and over us and lit in a bush behind us, lit by the afternoon sun. I got photos, I got videos. And I got a nice buzz from the whole experience. So nice, in fact, that I accosted a couple hiking toward us and regaled them with the tale of my first-ever yellow-breasted chat. They even seemed interested.

After the couple continued on up toward Beech Nut, we headed around the corner—and there was the chat again. Got my best video (this one) then.

The frog was cool. I liked spotting a hermit thrush and a couple of pewees off in the green wood. But you don’t get a lifer every day.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 2 p.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Red-eyed vireo**
2. Black-throated green warbler (v)
3. Ovenbird** (v)
4. Chestnut-sided warbler (v)
5. American robin**
6. American goldfinch (v)
7. Eastern towhee
8. American crow*
9. American redstart**
10. Hermit thrush
11. Veery (v)
12. Black-and-white warbler (v)
13. Eastern wood-pewee
14. Common raven (v)
15. Wild turkey
16. Northern flicker
17. Scarlet tanager (v)
18. Common yellowthroat**
19. Gray catbird**
20. Yellow warbler
21. Alder flycatcher (v)
22. Yellow-breasted chat†‡
23. Black-capped chickadee
24. Song sparrow**
25. Broad-winged hawk
26. Cedar waxwing (v)
27. Eastern phoebe**
28. Savannah sparrow (v)
29. Field sparrow (v)
30. Mourning dove* (v)


31. House finch (v)
30. Tufted titmouse (v)
31. Northern cardinal (v)
32. Herring gull

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere
†First-of-year bird


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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