I’m starting out at 5:15 a.m. this morning. It’s about 38 degrees. From my stone wall I could hear a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, TUFTED TITMOUSE, CHICKADEE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, CATBIRD, ROBIN, PHOEBE, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, and NUTHATCH. When I turned to start down the road, I noticed some dusty red in the sky over where the sun is going to rise. As I walked down the road, I heard and saw 2 GEESE flying over. Also heard a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, OVENBIRD, DOWNY WOODPECKER (drumming), and BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. At Blood’s I heard a SCARLET TANAGER and WINTER WREN from a distance — maybe from the far side of the brook? Near the Brook Trail I heard a SOLITARY (BLUE-HEADED)VIREO. Near the Big Bend I heard a RED-EYED VIREO, HERMIT THRUSH, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, and BLUE JAY. I noticed that the red sky has now (5:40 a.m.) turned toward pearly white. Got to the Nature Center driveway at 5:45 a.m. and heard a WOOD THRUSH, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, BROWN CREEPER, and GOLDFINCH. Got to the Lookout at 6:00 a.m. Sun’s just coming up, sky is blue, and clouds are now white. Heard a YELLOWRUMP.

THOUGHTS AND INSIGHTS: It would be really hard to map the territories of all the birds I’m hearing because they’re moving around, there are more than one of most species, and some seem to sing for a while and then go silent. I guess I’m beginning to understand the usefulness of POINT COUNTS. I guess also that the only way to confirm that a bird is nesting in a certain place — not just singing on its way through or around the edges of its territory — is to find the nest itself. Maybe that’s what I had in mind when I suggested that the Field Naturalist’s Master’s Project be a NEST QUEST: a season-long search for nests with lots of field notes, marked trees, shrubs, patches of ground, etc. plus quantification of the attributes of each of the confirmed nesting site. Oh well….

Sun’s up. Time to move on. 6:15 Hires Trail: I’m still hearing what I think might be a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER near the intersection of the Spear Trail. I think I just heard a WILD TURKEY gobble in the distance and definitely heard a BLACK-THROATED GREEN along this trail. Got to Lichen Rock at 6:35 a.m. Sun is well up, but only a little bit of its light is filtering through the trees — just enough to make me glad I’m here. A SOLITARY (BLUE-HEADED) VIREO is serenading me this morning. If I were doing point counts, I’d definitely do one here. It’s a obvious landscape feature — a huge vegetated rock that’s elevated enough to give me a clear 360 degree view- and soundshed. I can definitely hear a SCARLET TANAGER from here and a HERMIT THRUSH and some mornings a WINTER WREN, which in my opinion qualifies Lichen Rock as a very special place. (I almost said “sacred,” but that word has been much used and abused by airheads….) As I was starting downhill at 6:55 a.m., I heard more GEESE flying over, headed the other way, I think. Got back to the road by 7:00 a.m., just in time to wave to the school bus as it headed down the hill. I also got to say good morning to Eli and Casie as they ran by like two healthy young deer. Home at 7:15 a.m. Heard a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW when I stopped to get the newspaper out of its delivery box.

LATER: At 1:10 p.m. I spotted a TIGER SWALLOWTAIL (first of season) at the Huntington end of  Dugway Road.

LATER STILL: Bob says he has a PAIR OF BLUE-WINGED TEAL hanging around his pond. They feed on the corn he scatters at the far end for the neighborhood ducks.