Especially in November – and often again with the first cold snap in December – I talk about “rarity fever,” when there is that additional motivation and encouragement to go birding thanks to the expectation of the unexpected. And usually we in Maine talk about the “winter doldrums” in an non-irruption year. And this year, there are virtually zero irruptives in the southern half of Maine – other than Snowy Owls. But with the Steller’s Sea-Eagle (as you may have heard!), a Bullock’s Oriole at a feeder in Damariscotta Mills, a Townsend’s Warbler in Cape Elizabeth (I missed it twice this week with a limited amount of effort), and a Barnacle Goose in Rockland, there is no doubt I – and many other birders – are experiencing a little mid-winter Rarity Fever! And that has helped motivate me to get out birding as often as I can. The to-do list can wait until February, right?
With the fairly sudden arrival to a bitter “real winter” cold, once again “pioneering” waterfowl made up most of my highlights this week, as I spent most of my birding time searching for the next big deal. My observations of note over the past seven days include the following:
- 1 Northern Flicker, Village Crossings/Cape Elizabeth Greenbelt Trail, 1/16 (with John Lorenc).
- 7 Brant, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 10/18 (with Jeannette).
- At least 2 hen BARROW’S GOLDENEYES. A third hen is suggestive of an odd Barrow’s or a Common x Barrow’s hybrid (see photo captions), Bernard Lown Peace Bridge, Auburn/Lewiston, 1/20.
- Fun to hear two Carolina Wrens counter-singing across the Androscoggin River – one in Lewiston and one in Auburn – from Little Andy Park, Auburn, 1/20.
- 1 drake Northern Pintail and 3 1st-winter Iceland Gulls, Auburn Riverwalk, 1/20.
- 1 female Northern Pintail, Westbrook Riverwalk, 1/21.
- And finally, we have commissioned these incredible hand-painted, limited-edition Steller’s Sea-Eagle commemorative ornaments. Check them out here, on our website.