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…

BRTH,SpringSt,Luke_Seitz_phone-binned,12-14-14_edited-1
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.

HETH,FreeSt,Luke_Seitz_phone-binned,12-14-14_edited-1
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.

7:15-3:15.
(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
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET: CW
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
BALTIMORE ORIOLE: CW
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.

FullSizeRender1_edited-1
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.
me,OgunquitBeach,12-15-14,K

7:17-2:45
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
NORTHERN PINTAIL: 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
AMERICAN PIPIT: 5
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:
Me_with_jay,ArchboldBioSation,12-8-14_edited-1

Florida Scrub-Jay was a life bird for Jeannette.  I think this is a “countable” view!
J-Mo_with_jay1,ArchboldBioStation,12-8-14_edited-1

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.
WOST_handouts,GulfportMarina,12-9-14_edited-1

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
      3. BARNACLE GOOSE
      4. Cackling Goose
      5. Canada Goose
      6. Wood Duck
      7. Gadwall
      8. EURASIAN WIGEON
      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
      21. HARLEQUIN DUCK
      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
      61. GOLDEN EAGLE
      62. American Kestrel
      63. Merlin
      64. Peregrine Falcon
      65. SANDHILL CRANE
      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
      76. MARBLED GODWIT
      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
      88. LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER
      89. Wilson’s Snipe
      90. American Woodcock
      91. RED PHALAROPE
      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
      101. FORSTER’S TERN
      102. DOVEKIE
      103. THICK-BILLED MURRE
      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
      157. TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE
      158. Veery
      159. GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH
      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
      197. YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT
      198. Eastern Towhee
      199. American Tree Sparrow
      200. Chipping Sparrow
      201. CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
      202. LARK 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
      214. SUMMER TANAGER
      215. Northern Cardinal
      216. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
      217. BLUE GROSBEAK
      218. Indigo Bunting
      219. Dickcissel
      220. Bobolink
      221. Red-winged Blackbird
      222. Eastern Meadowlark
      223. Common Grackle
      224. Brown-headed Cowbird
      225. ORCHARD ORIOLE
      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
      243. GREAT BLACK HAWK, Deering Oaks Park, Portland, 12/1/18

     

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.