June 2010

Leaving the house at 5:35 a.m. It’s only 45 degrees out this morning after yesterday’s 60 degrees. From my Stone Wall I heard a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, BLUE JAY. OVENBIRD, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, TUFTED TITMOUSE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, ROBIN, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, and VEERY. The MOON is visible again this morning, looking more clearly like a waning gibbous. I think I’m hearing a BROAD-WINGED HAWK again near Bob’s Pond, but it’s way down at the other end. When I got to the far end of the pond, I could definitely hear it, but it was hiding and I never saw it. Also heard a SONG SPARROW and RED-EYED VIREO near the pond. I heard the BROAD-WINGED HAWK even more clearly on my way up to the Thinking Bench. I think it’s hiding in the Audubon woods. From the Thinking Bench I heard a NUTHATCH, JUNCO, HERMIT THRUSH, and a MOURNING DOVE in the distance. Started into the woods at precisely 6:00 a.m. with the intention of seeing how long it would take me to stroll up to Cote’s Boundary. It took me exactly 14 minutes, during which I noted that partridge berries are in bloom and heard five additional bird songs: WINTER WREN, WOOD THRUSH, BROWN CREEPER, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. I think I prefer the slower pace. From my Sitting Root, I heard a PEWEE and more than one woodpecker. I need to work on my WOODPECKERS, their drumming patterns, their whinnies, and their calls. I think I’m hearing the both a DOWNY and a PILEATED, but I’m not certain enough to count them. I also think I just heard a CHURRY, CHURRY from up in the open sunny patch on Cote’s property. Is there a MOURNING WARBLER way up here now? I heard it only once, and it caught me by surprise, so I don’t dare count it. Moving on: BLUE-HEADED VIREO, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. From my Leaning Rock I hear a LEAST FLYCATCHER and a REDSTART. I wonder if I could find something as interesting and satisfying to to in the evening as taking these walks in the morning is? I guess I could READ — but only self-propelling materials. No more doggedly disciplining myself through what I think I OUGHT to be reading. Moving on: Finally spotted a MOOSE TRACK in a muddy spot along the logging road. I was hoping they were still wandering through. Glad I’m still on one of their routes. Found more tracks as I kept walking, and they look relatively fresh. Noticed an AGITATED OVENBIRD fussing from a small tree beside the logging road, so I tiptoed very carefully through that section, watching for the nest it was worried about. I didn’t see it, but the bird quit fussing as I moved away from where it was. Near the bend where the logging road, where it starts downhill, I’m hearing a loud WOOD THRUSH. Either the same WOOD THRUSH is following me downhill, or there’s more than one. I’ve now turned the corner at Malfunction Junction and the second corner where the Crossover Road meets the main logging road, and I’m still hearing a WOOD THRUSH. When I stopped and listened closely, I heard one on my left and one on my right, so there are at least TWO WOOD THRUSHES up here in the middle of these woods. Also heard a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER. Got to the Stone Crossing at 7:10 a.m. Now I’m hearing 2 or possibly 3 WOOD THRUSHES plus six other species. This is a lovely spot to sit and listen. Moving on: I was still hearing a WOOD THRUSH all the way down the hill almost to the Saxtons’ View Power Bench. From the Saxtons’ Meadow I heard a SONG SPARROW and GOLDFINCH, and from the woods I heard a CHICKADEE. Heard and saw numerous GRACKLES near the Museum. The MOON is still just barely visible in an almost cloudless blue sky. On my way back to the house, I caught a glimpse of a brilliant orange male ORIOLE. Nice way to end my 2 hour+ walk. Home at 7:40 a.m.


Leaving the house at 5:10 a.m., and it’s already 60 degrees out. From my Stone Wall I can hear a WOOD THRUSH singing down by the Museum. It’s across the road from Bob’s shop. I’m also hearing a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, ROBIN, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, CHICKADEE, OVENBIRD, BLUE JAY, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, and VEERY. Not a bad way to start the day. There’s a beautiful white mashed-potato cloud overhead with a gray cloud floating in front of it. Who knows what kind of day it’s going to be? Walking up Charlie’s side of the field, again I hear no HOUSE WRENS, not even any scolding, as I walk by where they were nesting. Spoke too soon — I got scolded a short distance up and across from where they were. CATBIRD hanging around in Charlie’s yard. The MOON — a pale white disk slightly past full — just appeared through a break in the gray clouds drifting overhead. At 5:30 a.m., right when I got to Bob’s Pond, a HAWK let out a single high-pitched note and flew from Charlie’s trees to a tall dead one at the far end of the pond. I saw it with my binoculars but couldn’t identify it by sight. Will I ever learn my hawks? Thank goodness it called again, so I could identify it as a BROAD-WINGED HAWK. Also heard a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW near the pond. At the THINKING BENCH, I heard the high-pitched downward whinny of a DOWNY WOODPECKER and saw a strange looking FLICKER — a young one maybe? Also heard a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER and a JUNCO. The birds are really songful and active this morning. Is it the temperature (warm)? the hour (between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m.)? where they are in their nesting cycles? or just the kind of day it is?

At exactly 5:45 a.m. I stepped over the wall into the woods with the intention of walking up to my back corner at a brisk, non-stop pace to see if I could make it in 10 minutes. I did, but I’m hot, sweating, huffing, and puffing. I have to ask myself what I win and what I lose when I push for speed. I think maybe the wandering and wondering is more important than aerobic exercise on these morning walks…. I did manage to hear and remember five species of birds, however: TUFTED TITMOUSE, SCARLET TANAGER, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, PEWEE, and RED-EYED VIREO.

Sitting on my Sitting Root to rest, recover, and think a bit: I find myself wondering if ancient human beings, way back when they first went bipedal, ever just wandered and wondered? Did they feel like naming places and creatures and sounds? Or was it all just survival — finding food, watching for predators and enemies, looking for safe places to sleep? I’d like to think that maybe what I’m doing on these walks of mine is some vestige of primitive impulses to “map” territories, to know where things are, to name landscape features to remember not just their locations but everything else that goes with them? And knowing the bird songs adds another layer of information. Their presence one place and not another indicates things about where they are. So maybe my morning walks aren’t just an idle indulgence? Maybe they are both my continuing education and my reaching backward to my evolutionary roots? Darwin, where are you when I need you? Home in my library waiting for me to read more of him when I’m ready…. He’s pretty advanced, though, and I’m still feeling like a primitive nomad, wandering and wondering to save what’s left of my over-civilized soul.

Moving on, I noticed quite a  few WILD LEEKS flowering up here along Cote’s Boundary. I’ve been noticing them for a while but never thought to write this information down. If I were living off the land, it would be important for me to be aware that they’re here and flowering mid-summer, so I’d know they are alive and well and can be counted on as food next spring. It’s now 6:30 a.m., and I’m leaning on my Leaning Rock, which is cool against my back. Just heard a LEAST FLYCATCHER, REDSTART, and BLUE-HEADED VIREO — and also a loud, deep, rolling drum that I’m pretty sure was a PILEATED WOODPECKER. It was just too big a sound to have come from one of the smaller woodpeckers. ROOTS AND ROCKS: They are important to my walks — places to pause, sit, lean, and let my mind wander while my body is resting. STUMPS too, and LOGS.

Moving on, reluctantly. A small bird just flew up from the WILD NETTLES and LEEKS growing in the logging road — an OVENBIRD? I just heard a WOOD THRUSH way up here too, so maybe there are two of them? Or maybe just one moving around a lot? Heard a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK on my way downhill. STONE CROSSING at 6:52 a.m. The water is audible this morning. I’m hearing a lot of partial bird songs here today — phrases rather than whole songs. I wonder if young males start trying to sing their songs as soon as they leave their nests?

Moving on again. Just heard a WINTER WREN singing his whole elaborate song, MOURNING DOVE (in the distance), GOLDFINCH and SONG SPARROW from Saxtons’ Meadow, and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD from the wet area across the road. Saw a silent YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER in a tree across from the Museum. I haven’t been seeing any TREE SWALLOWS the past few mornings. I wonder if they’ve left already? GRACKLES in my side yard near the old well. Also a RABBIT, an adult EASTERN COTTONTAIL.  I often see young ones too, so it’s got a family in the area. Bob says he saw TREE SWALLOWS feeding young in their box day before yesterday, so if they’re gone, they just barely left. Saw or heard 32 species of birds this morning — a nice way to start the day.

I’m starting on my walk this morning at 5:40 a.m. It’s 55 degrees out — cool, misty, with drops dripping from the leaves. From my Stone Wall, I can hear a TUFTED TITMOUSE, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, ROBIN, CEDAR WAXWING, BLUE JAY, and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. As I walked up through the meadow and approached Bob’s Pond, I heard an OVENBIRD and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. Up at the Thinking Bench I heard a JUNCO singing from the Audubon Woods. As I started up into my woods, I heard a RED-EYED VIREO, and as I kept on climbing toward the back boundary, I added a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, PEWEE, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, and CHICKADEE. I made it to the back boundary at 6:13 a.m. and have decided to call this boundary Cote’s Boundary to distinguish it from the back boundary on the other side of the road, which I should call Moultroup’s Boundary, but I’m not sure I’ll remember to….  It’s humid, dripping, and misty this morning, and I’m sweating from the hike up to this back corner. Just heard a BLUE-HEADED VIREO. Moving on, I heard a SCARLET TANAGER and a REDSTART. Leaning against my Leaning Rock: The woods feel quieter this morning — or maybe the dripping is distracting me from the bird songs? Where’s the WOOD THRUSH and LEAST FLYCATCHER I’ve been hearing from this rock every morning? Is it because I’m running late? It’s already 6:35 a.m. Just heard the LEAST FLYCATCHER, a BROWN CREEPER, and the WOOD THRUSH! As I headed downhill, I heard a HERMIT THRUSH and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. Now it’s raining, but not a drop is falling on me — strange…. At the Stone Crossing I heard six species of birds singing. Moving on, I heard a WINTER WREN not far from the Stone Crossing, and as I got closer to Saxtons’ Meadow, I heard a SONG SPARROW. Caught a glimpse of a woodpecker flying from tree to tree. From its size and loud whinny, I’m fairly sure it was a HAIRY WOODPECKER. When I got back to the road, I saw a FLICKER fly up into a tree — spotted the white rump patch as it landed. As I approached my house, I heard a CATBIRD fussing in my side yard. Home at 7:20 a.m., having seen or heard 28 species.

Starting at 5:15 a.m. It’s 54 degrees out. From my Stone Wall, I heard a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT OVENBIRD, ROBIN, and BLUE JAY. From my side boundary pin, I heard a VEERY, the mystery song that I think is a weird CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, and a CHICKADEE. Walking up the side of the Meadow near Charlie’s house, I heard a SONG SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, CATBIRD, WINTER WREN, and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER. At Bob’s Pond, I added a RED-EYED VIREO and TUFTED TITMOUSE. While I was sitting on the Listening Bench, I heard a JUNCO and HERMIT THRUSH. Walking up through my woods I heard a SCARLET TANAGER, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, and BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER. I think I also heard a PILEATED WOODPECKER drumming from way up near the back boundary (Cote’s Boundary). Heard a BLUE-HEADED VIREO as I approached my Sitting Root near my back corner pin. I think I could make it from the Thinking Bench to my Sitting Root in 10 minutes if I pushed, but with stops to listen to and list the bird songs, it takes me closer to 15 minutes. Just heard a REDSTART and am tempted to hike up onto Cote’s property to look for what I think is the PILEATED WOODPECKER, but his “No Trespassing” signs discourage me. Maybe I should talk to him and ask for special permission? I think I might have just heard a HAWK — “Keeeeer” — while I standing near my back corner pin. Moving on, I heard a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, LEAST FLYCATCHER, and PEWEE. Found a feather on the logging road as I was walking toward my Leaning Rock. From my Leaning Rock I heard 9 bird species of birds singing. Moving on, I heard a GOLDFINCH and wondered what it was doing way up here in the woods. I theorized that maybe one of the Saxtons’ clear-cuts attracted it, so I decided to bushwhack up to the Cote/Saxton corner (as opposed to the Cote/Audubon corner, where I had just been). It was rough going, but I had barbed wire to guide me from tree to tree and Cote’s bright red boundary signs to lead me to the corner. No one seems to have worked this particular part of the woods, maybe because it’s so rough and rocky? I kind of like it up here. No one would ever find me if I decided to hide behind one of the big boundary trees…. Now I’m sitting on a big stump near the edge of the Saxton clear-cut closest to the corner where the three properties come together. It’s an interesting open space in what’s otherwise big woods. Maybe I should add this stump to my regular stops? Or maybe I should visit it once in a while just to see what’s going on way up here? I think I’ll give it a name just in case: Saxtons’ Logging Stump. When I headed downhill, I finally heard a WOOD THRUSH near Malfunction Junction — and also a NUTHATCH. From the Stone Crossing I heard 8 species (all of them repeats) singing at 6:55 this morning. Moving on I heard a BROWN CREEPER and CROW (in the distance). From the Power Bench at Saxtons’ View, I heard fussy bird sounds — maybe young in the nest? — and also the metallic chink of a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. Near Baileys’ Boundary, I saw GRACKLES and a female or maybe an immature EVENING GROSBEAK. Across from the Museum I saw the BALTIMORE ORIOLE flying into its nesting tree. As I approached my house, I heard a finally heard a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER. It just occurred to me that the HOUSE WRENS don’t seem to be singing anymore, but I heard their scolding notes earlier this morning when I walked by where they’ve been nesting. Home at 7:30 a.m., having heard or seen 33 species of birds. Bob says the feather I found up on the logging road near Cote’s Boundary is a TURKEY FEATHER!

At 5:10 a.m., it’s 48 degrees out. From my Stone Wall, I heard a HOUSE WREN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, CHICKADEE, VEERY, and NUTHATCH. And down the road from my side boundary pin, I heard a TUFTED TITMOUSE, WOODPECKER, and BLUE JAY. Starting up into the field, I heard a ROBIN, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, RED-EYED VIREO, OVENBIRD, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, and WOOD THRUSH. Mist rising from Bob’s Pond this morning — no ducks. From my Thinking Bench I heard a HERMIT THRUSH and GOLDFINCH. On the way up to my Sitting Root, I heard a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, and JUNCO. From my Sitting Root at 5:45 a.m., I heard a PEWEE, RED-EYED VIREO, and BLUE-HEADED VIREO. It’s cool but damp in the woods this morning. I might be hearing a PILEATED WOODPECKER  pounding on a big tree uphill from where I’m sitting — or it could, of course, be a smaller woodpecker making a big noise on a hollow branch…. Moving on, I heard a REDSTART and LEAST FLYCATCHER. Got to  my Leaning Rock at 6:00 a.m. It feels cool and good against my back. Heard another Goldfinch — what’s it doing way up here in the woods? Moving on, I’m hearing a SCARLET TANAGER from where I’ve just been and a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK from where I’m headed. At the Stone Crossing at 6:20 a.m., I heard another Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Wood Thrush,  Blue-headed Vireo, and Chickadee, and added a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, BROWN CREEPER, WINTER WREN, AND BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER. This Stone Crossing area is becoming one of my favorite places in these woods. It’s a lovely place to sit and listen — and to think calming thoughts. Moving on, I’m hearing another Least Flycatcher a ways down the Saxtons’ Boundary Trail, near where I can start to see the meadow through the trees. When I got close to the road, I heard GRACKLES moving around in the trees over my head. When I got back to the road, I heard a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and saw a TREE SWALLOW. I think I also saw a family of Blue Jays flying across the road. Some of them landed briefly, then flew up into the trees. There was a lot of noise and fussing and a few recognizable Blue Jay sounds.

At 5:30 a.m. it’s 62 degrees, humid, and misty. Heard a VEERY out my bedroom window this morning before I started my walk. From my Stone Wall and along the road in front of my house, I heard a HOUSE WREN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, CHICKADEE, BLUE JAY, and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER. Starting up into the field, I heard a PHOEBE, saw a TREE SWALLOW, and heard a ROBIN, TUFTED TITMOUSE, and OVENBIRD. When I first got to Bob’s Pond, I saw 2 WOOD DUCKS — either females or young. I heard a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH singing near the pond this morning, which is a first. Also heard a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER,  YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, and a WOODPECKER. In the woods above my Thinking Bench, I heard a BLUE-HEADED VIREO, RED-EYED VIREO, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, and REDSTART. From my Thinking Bench to my Sitting Root, it takes me a bit more than 15 minutes of climbing uphill, much of that time huffing and puffing. From my Sitting Root, I heard a PEWEE and a JUNCO. Moving on, I found my Leaning Rock cool against my sweating back and wet against my butt, but a lovely place to be at 6:15 a.m. Heard a WOOD THRUSH and a LEAST FLYCATCHER. Moving on, I might be hearing a PILEATED WOODPECKER calling from over near the Saxtons’ Boundary, down a short distance from the back corner. Moving on, I heard a WINTER WREN. From the Stone Crossing at 6:35 a.m., I heard a second Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a HERMIT THRUSH, another Ovenbird, a SCARLET TANAGER (from a distance), another Winter Wren and Red-eyed Vireo. As I headed downhill, I heard a BROWN CREEPER, SONG SPARROW, and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD. Home at 7:00 a.m.