Monthly Archives: December 2014

2 Early-Season CBC’s in 2014

Thanks to the calendar, for the first time in 7 years, I was able to partake in the Greater Portland Christmas Bird Count on Sunday. Normally a Saturday event – not something someone in retail can pull off in the last weeks before Christmas! – this year the count was held on the first day of the count period.

I covered my old CBC – and usual outside of the CBC – stomping grounds of the Portland peninsula, joined for half of my day by Luke Seitz.  As usual, the scrubby thickets, warm microclimates, and patches of fruit in the big city did not disappoint.

A second-count record Brown Thrasher in a parking lot crabapple along Spring Street was the highlight…

Phone-binned photo by Luke Seitz.

…followed closely by a total of 6 Hermit Thrushes. The previous circle-wide high count was 5!  This bird feasted on Virginia Creeper climbing up a brick wall along Free St.

Phone-binned photo by Luke Seitz.

Two Swamp Sparrows (1 along the Eastern Promenade and 1 at Mercy Pond) were noteworthy, as were our tallies of 44 Northern Cardinals and 26 Northern Mockingbirds in particular, for a total of 42 species.

(Luke Seitz 8:20-12:45).
Miles by foot: 8
Miles by car: 5.7
Start: 34F, cloudy, NW 7
End: 45F (high of 46), clear, NW8

American Black Duck: 4
Mallard: 112
ABDU x Mallard: 3
Common Eider: 176
White-winged Scoter: 1
Long-tailed Duck: 32
Bufflehead: 81
Common Goldeneye: 9
Red-breasted Merganser: 35
Red-throated Loon: 2
Common Loon: 10
Great Blue Heron: 1
Cooper’s Hawk: CW
Red-tailed Hawk: 5
Ring-billed Gull: 42
Herring Gull: 360
Iceland Gull: 2
Great Black-backed Gull: 51
Rock Pigeon: 484
Mourning Dove: 14
Downy Woodpecker: 3
Hairy Woodpecker: 1
Blue Jay: 9
American Crow: 40
Black-capped Chickadee: 46
Tufted Titmouse: 2
White-breasted Nuthatch: 2
Carolina Wren: 3
Hermit Thrush: 6 (!)
American Robin: 7
BROWN THRASHER: 1 (2nd Count Record)
Northern Mockingbird: 26
European Starling: 257
Yellow-rumped Warbler: 1
American Tree Sparrow: 2
Song Sparrow: 22
Swamp Sparrow: 2
White-throated Sparrow: 44
Dark-eyed Junco: 9
Northern Cardinal: 44
House Finch: 82
Pine Siskin: 1
American Goldfinch: 84
House Sparrow: 247

Portland was birdier than usual for mid-December, likely due to an abundance of fruit (especially crabapples) and overall relatively mild temperatures this fall, allowing things like thrushes to stick around/survive in the area.

Sunrise at Moody Point.

Today, Kristen Lindquist and I covered the Moody (Wells-Ogunquit) area for the Southern York County CBC – my usual, exceptionally productive, territory for this count.  Again, it was a very birdy day, but unlike Portland, the birding was a little more challenging. The lack of snow cover and limited ice in the marsh reduce concentrations of birds, and the mild temperatures minimized concentrations at sunny edges. There was a lot of food to be found, so birds weren’t packed together at feeders or dense thickets in warm microclimates.

Nonetheless, we tallied 59 species (below average for this section), and several “good” birds. The best of which was an Eastern Meadowlark in the saltmarsh off of Furbish Rd, a 5th count record. A Common Yellowthroat (10th count record) was in a cattail marsh at Moody Point where I have had yellowthroats on this count more often than not. 8 Dunlin among a goodly 188 Sanderling on Ogunquit Beach were a 7th count record, and other good birds included a Hermit Thrush, 5 American Pipits (Eldridge Rd), a male and female Northern Pintail, and two Harlequin Ducks at our dawn seawatch at Moody Point. Five Black-legged Kittiwakes off Moody Point and 3 Razorbills off of Ogunquit Beach were expected, but always nice to see.

With Kristen Lindquist
Miles by foot: 10.
Miles by car: 8
Start: 28F, clear, calm.
End: 37F (high of 42), clear, very light Var.

Canada Goose: 80
American Black Duck: 91
Mallard: 251
ABDU x Mallard: 2
Common Eider: 67
Harlequin Duck: 2
Surf Scoter: 26
White-winged Scoter: 100
Black Scoter: 45
Long-tailed Duck: 47
Bufflehead: 15
Common Goldeneye: 11
Red-breasted Merganser: 9
Red-throated Loon: 1
Common Loon: 7
Horned Grebe: 18
Red-necked Grebe: 65
Great Cormorant: 1
Red-tailed Hawk: 6
Sanderling: 188
DUNLIN 8 (7th count record)
Ring-billed Gull: 8
Herring Gull: 171
Great Black-backed Gull: 13
Black-legged Kittiwake: 5
Razorbill: 3
Rock Pigeon: 55 (very low)
Mourning Dove: 58
Downy Woodpecker: 14
Hairy Woodpecker: 2
Blue Jay: 25
American Crow: 46
Black-capped Chickadee: 104
Tufted Titmouse: 10
Red-breasted Nuthatch: 10
White-breasted Nuthatch: 18
Carolina Wren: 2 (very low; presumably affected by last winter)
Eastern Bluebird: 7
Hermit Thrush: 1
American Robin: 18
Northern Mockingbird: 2
European Starling: 582
Cedar Waxwing: 45
Yellow-rumped Warbler: 3
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT: 1 (10th count record)
American Tree Sparrow: 19
Song Sparrow: 38
Swamp Sparrow: 2
White-throated Sparrow: 30
Dark-eyed Junco: 92
Northern Cardinal: 39
EASTERN MEADOWLARK: 1 (5th count record)
Purple Finch: 1
House Finch: 142
Pine Siskin: 1
American Goldfinch: 257
House Sparrow: 188

My next CBC will be Freeport-Brunswick on January 3rd.  Until then, Merry Christmas-counting everyone!

The Deal With Alpha Codes, and some Florida Pics.

This week, my blogging was hosted by the American Birding Association. A synthesis of the results of a query that I put out to the Maine-birds listserve regarding why the use of “four-letter (or “alpha” or “banding”) codes on listserves elicits such strong responses is featured in “Open Mic: The Deal With Alpha Codes.” I hope you’ll check it out, and I hope you’ll enjoy (or at least be thought-provoked by it).

Part 1 is here.

And Part 2 is here.

Please consider joining in on the discussion in the comments field of the ABA blog.

Meanwhile, Jeannette and I escaped the ice for a quick four-day trip to Florida for a wedding, a day with family, and an all-too-short day and a half of birding. I’m not sure if I will get a chance to write much of a blog about it, so let me quickly summarize the highlights:

Florida Scrub-Jay was a life bird for Jeannette.  I think this is a “countable” view!

Jeannette’s first ABA-Area Limpkins were among a lovely diversity of birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, one of which posed nicely.
Limpkin on snag,Circle B Bar Reserve,FL, 12-8-14

And while our mutual-lifer Nanday Parakeets were serendipitously spotted as we stepped out of breakfast at a Waffle House (itself a successful “twitch”), a stop in Gulfport for another look (also successful), presented an unexpected photo session with some, let’s say, very cooperative Wood Storks.

As for local birds, I was happy to see the Townsend’s Solitaire was still at Florida Lake Park in Freeport this morning as I took Sasha for a stroll. I spent about 25 minutes with it today, as it alternated feeding on Winterberry and Multiflora Rose, and in classic solitaire-style, perching up on the tallest trees around. That was a nice welcome home.

Finally today, I wanted to steer you over to the Tri-Town Weekly (Freeport-Pownal-Durham) which ran this nice little feature on our store’s 6th Annual Snowbird(er) Contest for our Saturday Morning Birdwalks.

The All-Time Saturday Morning Birdwalk List

Last Update: 7/18/15.

Our store, Freeport Wild Bird Supply, offers free birdwalks every Saturday morning, all year long. Meeting at 8:00am, we carpool to a local park of seasonal interest, and return to the store for bird-friendly coffee between 10 and 10:30. With the exception of inclement weather, we limit the drive to about 10-15 minutes away, and visit a variety of parks, waterfront overlooks, and other hotspots.

Over the years, we have seen a lot of good birds. We’ve “chased” as species or two, but we have found our fair share of “good” birds.  Encompassing a wide variety of habitats each season, we have seen an impressive array of species. Spurred on by the Townsend’s Solitaire that the Saturday Morning Birdwalk group enjoyed this past weekend, I have finally compiled a list of all of the species seen on Saturday Morning Birdwalks over the past 10 ½ years (and not including any other trips, tours, or special walks).

This is the “unofficial” list at the moment. UPPERCASE is for species seen only once or twice. I am hoping participants will take a look at the list and see if I have missed anything, or made any errors. I’ll edit the list as changes come in, so please let me know what I missed!

    1. Greater White-fronted Goose
    2. Snow Goose
    4. Cackling Goose
    5. Canada Goose
    6. Wood Duck
    7. Gadwall
    9. American Wigeon
    10. American Black Duck
    11. Mallard
    12. Blue-winged Teal
    13. Northern Shoveler
    14. Northern Pintail
    15. Green-winged Teal
    16. Canvasback
    17. Ring-necked Duck
    18. Greater Scaup
    19. Lesser Scaup
    20. Common Eider
    22. Surf Scoter
    23. White-winged Scoter
    24. Black Scoter
    25. Long-tailed Duck
    26. Bufflehead
    27. Common Goldeneye
    28. Barrow’s Goldeneye
    29. Hooded Merganser
    30. Common Merganser
    31. Red-breasted Merganser
    32. Ruddy Duck
    33. Ruffed Grouse
    34. Wild Turkey
    35. Red-throated Loon
    36. Common Loon
    37. Pied-billed Grebe
    38. Horned Grebe
    39. Red-necked Grebe
    40. Double-crested Cormorant
    41. Great Cormorant
    42. American Bittern
    43. Great Blue Heron
    44. Great Egret
    45. Snowy Egret
    46. Little Blue Heron
    47. Green Heron
    48. Black-crowned Night-Heron
    49. Glossy Ibis
    50. Turkey Vulture
    51. Osprey
    52. Bald Eagle
    53. Northern Harrier
    54. Sharp-shinned Hawk
    55. Cooper’s Hawk
    56. Northern Goshawk
    57. Red-shouldered Hawk
    58. Broad-winged Hawk
    59. Red-tailed Hawk
    60. Rough-legged Hawk
    62. American Kestrel
    63. Merlin
    64. Peregrine Falcon
    66. Black-bellied Plover
    67. American Golden-Plover
    68. Semipalmated Plover
    69. Killdeer
    70. Greater Yellowlegs
    71. Lesser Yellowlegs
    72. Solitary Sandpiper
    73. “Eastern” Willet
    74. Spotted Sandpiper
    75. Whimbrel
    77. Ruddy Turnstone
    78. Red Knot
    79. Semipalmated Sandpiper
    80. Least Sandpiper
    81. White-rumped Sandpiper
    82. Baird’s Sandpiper
    83. Pectoral Sandpiper
    84. Purple Sandpiper
    85. Dunlin
    86. Buff-breasted Sandpiper
    87. Short-billed Dowitcher
    89. Wilson’s Snipe
    90. American Woodcock
    92. Laughing Gull
    93. Bonaparte’s Gull
    94. Ring-billed Gull
    95. Herring Gull
    96. Iceland Gull
    97. Lesser Black-backed Gull
    98. Glaucous Gull
    99. Great Black-backed Gull
    100. Common Tern
    102. DOVEKIE
    104. Razorbill
    105. Black Guillemot
    106. Rock Pigeon
    107. Mourning Dove
    108. Black-billed Cuckoo
    109. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
    110. Great Horned Owl
    111. Barred Owl
    112. Chimney Swift
    113. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    114. Belted Kingfisher
    115. Red-bellied Woodpecker
    116. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
    117. Downy Woodpecker
    118. Hairy Woodpecker
    119. Northern Flicker
    120. Pileated Woodpecker
    121. Eastern Wood-Pewee
    122. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
    123. Alder Flycatcher
    124. Willow Flycatcher
    125. Least Flycatcher
    126. Eastern Phoebe
    127. Great Crested Flycatcher
    128. Eastern Kingbird
    129. Northern Shrike
    130. Blue-headed Vireo
    131. Warbling Vireo
    132. Philadelphia Vireo
    133. Red-eyed Vireo
    134. Blue Jay
    135. American Crow
    136. Fish Crow
    137. Common Raven
    138. Horned Lark
    139. Tree Swallow
    140. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
    141. Bank Swallow
    142. Cliff Swallow
    143. Barn Swallow
    144. Black-capped Chickadee
    145. Tufted Titmouse
    146. Red-breasted Nuthatch
    147. White-breasted Nuthatch
    148. Brown Creeper
    149. Carolina Wren
    150. House Wren
    151. Winter Wren
    152. Marsh Wren
    153. Golden-crowned Kinglet
    154. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    155. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
    156. Eastern Bluebird
    158. Veery
    160. Swainson’s Thrush
    161. Hermit Thrush
    162. Wood Thrush
    163. American Robin
    164. Gray Catbird
    165. Northern Mockingbird
    166. Brown Thrasher
    167. European Starling
    168. American Pipit
    169. Bohemian Waxwing
    170. Cedar Waxwing
    171. Lapland Longspur
    172. Snow Bunting
    173. Ovenbird
    174. Louisiana Waterthrush
    175. Northern Waterthrush
    176. Black-and-white Warbler
    177. Tennessee Warbler
    178. Nashville Warbler
    179. Common Yellowthroat
    180. American Redstart
    181. Cape May Warbler
    182. Northern Parula
    183. Magnolia Warbler
    184. Bay-breasted Warbler
    185. Blackburnian Warbler
    186. Yellow Warbler
    187. Chestnut-sided Warbler
    188. Blackpoll Warbler
    189. Black-throated Blue Warbler
    190. Palm Warbler
    191. Pine Warbler
    192. Yellow-rumped Warbler
    193. Prairie Warbler
    194. Black-throated Green Warbler
    195. Canada Warbler
    196. Wilson’s Warbler
    198. Eastern Towhee
    199. American Tree Sparrow
    200. Chipping Sparrow
    203. Savannah Sparrow
    204. Nelson’s Sparrow
    205. Saltmarsh Sparrow
    206. Fox Sparrow
    207. Song Sparrow
    208. Lincoln’s Sparrow
    209. Swamp Sparrow
    210. White-throated Sparrow
    211. White-crowned Sparrow
    212. Dark-eyed Junco
    213. Scarlet Tanager
    215. Northern Cardinal
    216. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    218. Indigo Bunting
    219. Dickcissel
    220. Bobolink
    221. Red-winged Blackbird
    222. Eastern Meadowlark
    223. Common Grackle
    224. Brown-headed Cowbird
    226. Baltimore Oriole
    227. Pine Grosbeak
    228. House Finch
    229. Purple Finch
    230. White-winged Crossbill
    231. Red Crossbill
    232. Common Redpoll
    233. Pine Siskin
    234. American Goldfinch
    235. Evening Grosbeak
    236. House Sparrow
    237. SNOWY OWL, Brunswick Landing, 1/31/15.
    238. Purple Martin, Rossmore Road, Brunswick, 5/2/15.
    239. BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, Old Town House Park, North Yarmouth, 7/18/15.
    240. WHITE-EYED VIREO, Freeport Transfer Station/Hedgehod Mountain Park 10/10/15
    241. LITTLE EGRET, Tidewater Farm, Falmouth, 7/9/16.
    242. UPLAND SANDPIPER, Bowdoin Sand Plains, 7/1/17

I could not find any records of the following species in my notes, but they are all plausible. Does anyone have any notes suggesting we saw any of the species on this list together?

  1. Virginia Rail
  2. Sora
  3. American Coot
  4. Sanderling
  5. Common Nighthawk
  6. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  7. Yellow-throated Vireo
  8. Orange-crowned Warbler

And finally, these are known “holes” on the list that we very well might have to “seek” in the coming years!

1. Snowy Owl

2. Mourning Warbler

3. Hoary Redpoll

240 – and counting! Not to shabby!

And with the 2014-2015 Snowbird(er) Award contest about to get underway, there’s even more incentive to join us on Saturdays.