Birds of Beech Hill | About This Place

I first walked to the summit of Beech Hill in Rockport, Maine, about forty years or so ago, soon after I moved to Maine. Or maybe even before, during an early visit—I don’t remember. Either way, that was also about the time I became a birder. In Austin, where I grew up, I enjoyed hiking and camping in the Texas Hill Country and knew enough about the wildlife to get by, but only when I heard the crazy, unfamiliar songs of those colorful little wood-warblers that first May in Maine did I turn into a true bird nerd.

In the mid-1980s, I got a job with the The Courier Gazette, in Rockland, and started writing a nature column. I gravitated toward the conservation culture, and even served on the first Board of Directors of Coastal Mountains Land Trust (then the Camden-Rockport Land Trust), which soon enough secured an easement protecting Beech Hill, a uniquely open coastal hill with a stone hut called Beech Nut on top. Thereafter, other jobs and pursuits monopolized my time, but I never stopped hiking the hill every so often—more often when Three Islands Press opened an office about five minutes away. Sometimes, I’d take pictures with one of those newfangled digital cameras. Sometimes even pictures of birds.

In the spring of 2010, I adopted Captain Jack, a two-year-old Australian cattle dog mix, from Lucky Pup Rescue. Jack proved to be a wonderful dog: attentive, quiet, patient, a fast learner. Aside from a sabbatical in Salt Lake City between 2019 and 2022, Jack and I have hiked Beech Hill nearly every day since—all but some trips to Monhegan Island during spring or fall migration, and a handful other random days—and I’ve kept lists of the species I hear and/or see. I always bring binoculars and a camera, with a goal of photographing birds. And I couldn’t have dreamed up a better companion.

Back in February of 2014, I gave a presentation (sponsored by CMLT and Mid-Coast Audubon) featuring the birds I’ve seen and photographed in my thousands of Beech Hill hikes so far, and for that I made this website. I’ve added a few (several?) species since—no doubt in part due to anthropogenic warming—and will continue to when new birds appear.

A few notes:

  1. To navigate between photos, click the triangles to the left or right of any page.
  2. The first 160 photos or so comprise a chronology of about a year, from January 2013 to January 2014; the final twenty-something photos document a few other interesting Beech Hill sightings I’ve had in earlier years.
  3. To view the official Beech Hill Bird Checklist, click the warbler icon at the top right of any page. The names of species with photos here will be bolded in this list; simply click the name to display the associated photo(s).
  4. Some of these photos have a video associated with them; if they do, you’ll see a “Video” link at the bottom, under the caption. Click it!
  5. If you’d like to search for a particular species, click "Search."

When possible, I’ll continue to add photos to this site as time marches on. If you have any comments or questions, or simply want to get in touch, please feel free to send me email at Thanks very much for stopping by.

    Brian Willson

All Photos Copyright ©2011–2024 Brian Willson/Three Islands Press