November 23, 2014: After days of wind and cold the air warmed overnight and the dawn arrived flushed with pink and gold. Though it is still Autumn, it feels more like winter with a biting northwest wind that blew for days. Yesterday morning was still chilly and cold, but in the afternoon the temperature started to rise so that by nightfall it was warmer than noontime. It should be relatively warm here for the next couple of days, and then another shot of winter weather is headed here for Wednesday. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving this year since my daughter and her husband just moved back to Maine from Colorado! It has been over two years since I have seen her! She and I have been able to spend a little bit of time together since her return and I am so happy to have someone who not only likes nature like I do, but also likes to decorate for Christmas and watch girly movies with me!
On Thursday I drove over Livermore to pick Renee up to spend the day with me. She and her husband only have one car and he needs it to drive to work. Renee was driving as we headed up the steep drive of Waters Hill Road, one of the back roads of Maine near Livermore. I don’t remember who spotted them first, but we saw some small birds alongside the road. There were farm fields on either side and as I looked at the birds it suddenly dawned on me what they were. Since she was driving I screamed at her to STOP THE CAR! STOP THE CAR! She quickly applied the brakes and I couldn’t leap out of the door fast enough, for there in front of me were Snow Buntings! After confirming it with my binoculars, I grabbed for my camera and walked up the road. The road was steep and bumpy. I was walking uphill with the sun directly in front of me, so the birds were backlit, but still, I attempted to get their pictures.
It was a small flock of five brown and white birds feeding along the road edge. As I got nearer they walked farther and I kept snapping away. Finally they decided I was too close for comfort and they flew off a short distance into the closely cropped farm field. By now I was freezing as a stiff wind reached inside my jacket and pinched my flesh! I decided I had enough Snow Bunting pictures and got back into the car! My smile was as wide as the Androscoggin River! Though I had seen snow buntings years before in the town of Jay, Maine I had not eBirded them. This made them a Life Bird on my eBird List.
But, Renee must be my good luck charm, for later that day when we were at my cottage I went out to turn the car around in preparation for a trip to town when I heard the cry of a raptor overhead. Though I see Bald Eagles here on a regular basis, and lately I have been seeing Red-tailed Hawks, this cry was different. Fortunately I did have my binoculars with me and I looked up to see a large accipiter hanging on the wind.
It was light gray below and its size and shape made me realize I was looking at a Northern Goshawk! I ran to the back door for my camera, which I thought was in the kitchen, but it was not. Renee ran to get it from my office, while I stepped back outside to keep my eyes on that bird. It gave its wailing cry again as it slowly drifted over the treetops down towards Maquoit Bay. Just as Renee got to the back door with my camera, it disappeared from view! Too bad! I was alerted to the fact that a goshawk was hanging around the neighborhood by one of my neighbors who is a registered Maine Guide. So when I heard that strange cry that was not an eagle or a Red-tailed Hawk I looked up and found yet another Life Bird! That made two in one day! I was thrilled!
Ring-billed gulls and Dunlin at Wharton Point 11-20-2014
But today, on this sunny Maine day, I have more serious things in mind. I am about to leave for Connecticut to be with my mom as she goes through yet another breast cancer surgery. After being cancer free for three years, she has had a new cancer develop in her other breast. They caught this one while it is still quite small and we are hoping that she will have a successful surgery and only need radiation this time around.
In this new world of cancer I was surprised to learn that there is more than one type of breast cancer. So, this is not the return of her old cancer, but a totally new cancer. Her surgery is first thing tomorrow and I hope to be back in Maine before Thanksgiving. Gus is off, so he is here to take care of the house and pets. Our little dog, Miss Blossom, is nearing the end of her life and needs much more care and attention than she used to. It is an unpredictable life we all live, and ours is a bit tenuous right now, but there are still sunrises and sunsets, and plenty of birds to make me smile. With the spotting of the Goshawk I am now up to 105 Yard Birds here on Mere Point. Recently I have had a female Red-bellied woodpecker hanging around. The American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos have returned from the boreal forest of the north, and yesterday I observed a Brown Creeper climbing the trunk of the apple tree where one of my bird feeders hangs. Life is good.