My new favorite trail is the Esker Loop Trail. If you haven’t hiked it, give it a try. This is an easy 1.1-mile loop on North Road. It starts as an easy, rolling walk along Chapman Brook down to the Androscoggin. I did it early one morning just last week. It was damp from a heavy fog. The forest was lush, and I could hear birds everywhere. July and August are sometimes not the best time for bird watching. Leaves are out and finding small birds in a thick forest can be close to impossible. I got on the trail by 5:30 and birds were greeting the morning with their songs. So, even though I didn’t see as many, it was still a delight.

I walked the trail counter-clockwise. The first bird I got a good look at was a male Indigo Bunting singing from a snag jutting over the overgrown pipeline the trail crosses. While watching the bright blue bunting, I could hear a Veery down the line and a Common Yellowthroat sang “wichity, wichity wichity” from somewhere in the scrub. A raven croaked overhead.

Back in the woods, I heard an Ovenbird along with chickadees and nuthatches. I was never out of earshot of Red-eyed Vireos. As I came to the river, a Pileated Woodpecker cackled and shortly after, I heard it hammering on a tree somewhere out of sight. Along the esker, an Eastern Wood Pewee gave its mournful cry. As I neared the end of the loop, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker squawked. I looked up just as a second one joined it, then a third. The squawker was a juvenile begging. As I watched them, a Ruby-throated Humming bird zipped past.

I ended the walk identifying 25 different types of birds – most only by their song. It was still worth it. That’s what birding is all about – getting out in our forests and just looking and listening to what’s around. Who says you have to identify a bird or its song to enjoy a walk like this? So, give it a try. You never know what you’ll see and hear.

The Esker Loop Trail is 5.3-miles from Bethel on North Road. Mahoosuc Land Trust recently put in a nice parking area and is responsible for the trails. After parking, cross the road and you’ll find the trail head. If you’re feeling ambitious, also check out the McCoy Gray Birch Trail which leaves from the parking lot as well.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME. To learn more visit www.mahoosuc.org. To contact James, send your emails to [email protected]

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