Monthly Archives: September 2022

Sandy Point Morning Flight, 9/29/2022

There are some Morning Flights at Sandy Point that deserve their own blog. This was one of those. (I also haven’t finished my Monhegan Tour report blog yet, either).

Let’s start with the 1:00am reflectivity and velocity images from the Gray NEXRAD station. I was very happy that the station was back online in time for this incredible large flight. In fact, it was one of the densest flights I have seen in the area, and you can see how much biomass was offshore.

For an explanation of just what this means, see the “Birding at Night” chapter in my first book, How to be a Better Birder. Furthermore, see previous Sandy Point posts on the topic – you can use the search box in the upper right-hand corner of this blog page, and search “Sandy Point” or “Morning Flight.”

That got my pretty darn excited for the morning. And, well, it was a lot of fun! OK, mostly…at times I was overwhelmed and early on, I just felt beat! For the first 30 minutes, I often just clicked waves of “unidentified” as I tried to keep pace. Luckily, after the massive early rush, the flight became more manageable, although bursts of activity were barely quantifiable.

20 species of warblers, a very rare Blue Grosbeak, and my 195th all-time Sandy Point birds: 2 Little Blue Herons! It was quite a day.

Thanks to Evan Obercian, I learned a ton and had some great species tallies. I have no doubt that some of the records set (e.g. 2nd-highest tally for Cape May Warbler) came from his exceptional auditory skills – some of those birds would have just went unidentified or not even detected by me! Of course, the more eyes (and ears) the better, and Reed Robinson and Weston Barker – splitting time on the “flicker clicker” and pointing out birds landing below – helped immensely as well. Assistance was critical today.

When Evan and I finally departed for desperately needed bagels and coffee at 11:45, there were still a few birds on the move. With some raptors in the air, I am sure that if we didn’t leave then, I would be there all day. I wish I could have been, because this morning was simply awesome. Here’s the scoreboard:

  • 6:36 to 11:45am
  • With Evan Obercian, Reed Robinson, and Weston Barker.
  • 50F, mostly clear, WNW 4.5-5.1 to NW 13.3-16.1
  • 2,389 unidentified
  • 1,036 Yellow-rumped Warblers (*2nd highest)
  • 449 Northern Parulas
  • 374 Ruby-crowned Kinglets (*3rd highest)
  • 286 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (*new record)
  • 251 Northern Flickers
  • 155 Blackpoll Warblers
  • 138 Eastern Phoebes (*new record. Previous high of 26! And this was very conservative as many were swirling, too. But at times, steady pulses of 2-6 were clearly crossing)>
  • 105 Black-throated Green Warblers
  • 93 American Robins
  • 75 White-throated Sparrows
  • 71 Black-and-white Warblers (*new record)
  • 65 Red-eyed Vireos (*new record)
  • 64 Red-breasted Nuthatches (*new record)
  • 58 Magnolia Warblers
  • 57 Cedar Waxwings
  • 44 Blue Jays
  • 41 Dark-eyed Juncos
  • 33 American Goldfinches
  • 31 Blue-headed Vireos (*2nd highest)
  • 26 American Redstarts
  • 25 Cape May Warblers (*2nd highest)
  • 25 Black-throated Blue Warblers
  • 25 Purple Finches
  • 23 Chipping Sparrows
  • 22 Rusty Blackbirds
  • 22 Nashville Warbler (*2nd highest)
  • 22 Broad-winged Hawks
  • 18 Tennessee Warblers (*3rd highest)
  • 18 Golden-crowned Kinglets
  • 16 Palm Warblers
  • 12 Scarlet Tanagers
  • 9 Yellow Warblers
  • 8 Savannah Sparrows
  • 7 Swainson’s Thrushes
  • 7 American Kestrels
  • 7 Turkey Vultures
  • 6 White-breasted Nuthatches (*tied highest)
  • 5 Baltimore Orioles
  • 4 Ospreys
  • 4 Philadelphia Vireos
  • 4 Bay-breasted Warblers
  • 4 Black-capped Chickadees
  • 3 Brown Creepers
  • 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
  • 2 Chestnut-sided Warblers
  • 2 Orange-crowned/Tennessee Warbler
  • 2 Red-winged Blackbirds
  • 2 Eastern Wood-Pewees
  • 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks
  • 2 juvenile LITTLE BLUE HERONS (**high fly-overs. My first record for Sandy Point and Patch Bird #195.)
  • 2 Lincoln’s Sparrows
  • 2 White-crowned Sparrows
  • 1 Pine Warbler
  • 1 Least Flycatcher
  • 1 Northern Harrier
  • 1 Tufted Titmouse (did not cross after a few false starts)
  • 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker (crossed after three false starts)
  • 1 Common Loon
  • 1 Eastern Bluebird
  • 1 Hairy Woodpecker (crossed after 8 false starts)
  • 1 BLUE GROSBEAK (**My 3rd-ever at Sandy Point. Spotted by Evan, photographed by Weston).
  • 1 Common Grackle
  • 1 Wilson’s Warbler
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 1 American Pipit
  • 1 Blackburnian Warbler
  • 1 unidentified Empid
  • 1 Downy Woodpecker (did not cross after 2 false starts)
  • 1 Swamp Sparrow
  • 1 Hermit Thrush
  • 1 Ovenbird (in the woods; warbler #20!)
  • X Common Yellowthroat (I don’t try and count them in the brush here, but there were a lot around this morning and many more than there have been. None even attempted a crossing as usual).

***Total = 6,183 (2nd highest all time!)***

This Week’s Highlights: September 17-21, 2022

A horrific attempt at documenting a lovely Lark Sparrow that Jeanette and I found
on Bailey Island on Tuesday morning.

My observations of note over the past five days before I head out to Monhegan with my annual tour group included a Lark Sparrow, lots of vismig, and two stints (including one 3K bird day!) at Sandy Point.

Sandy Point Morning Flight, 9/17: 3,024 migrants of 39 species including 16 species of warblers including my second highest all-time count for Northern Parulas.  Full count here.

Hawkwatching at the store, 9/17: 1,708 raptors of 10 species. Full count here.

8 Red Crossbills and a deafening number of Red-breasted Nuthatches, Littlefield Wood Preserve, Chebeague Island, 9/18 (with Chebeague-Cumberland Land Trust tour group).

1 LARK SPARROW, intersection of Washington Street and Pasture Road, Bailey Island, Harpswell, 9/20 (with Jeannette). Photo above

Sandy Point Morning Flight, 9/21: 322 migrants of 32 species including 14 species of warbler and my second-ever Brown Thrasher.  Full Count here.

This Week’s Highlights: September 10-16, 2022

Jeannette and I spent some quality time with “sharp-tailed sparrows” in Scarborough Marsh on Tuesday. It’s even more of a challenge this time of year with some birds still molting (such as the Saltmarsh Sparrow on the left) and other birds in fresh plumage, such as this apparent Nelson’s Sparrow on the right
(although a hybrid may be impossible to rule out).

Unlike last week, I was out birding plenty this week, including some of my favorite fall activities: Sandy Point and sorting through shorebirds.  Here are my observations of note over the past seven days:

  • Morning flight over our Pownal yard, 9/10: 6:15-7:30am: 250+ warblers of at least 10 species, led by 40++ Northern Parulas and including 1 Bay-breasted and 2++ Cape May Warbler.
  • “Zeiss Day” Hakwatch right here at the store, 9/10 (with Rich Moncrief): 95 individuals of 11 species of raptors led by 21 Ospreys and 18 Broad-winged Hawks.  Full count here.
  • 20-25 Common Nighthawks, over our yard in Pownal at dusk, 9/10, and 5-10 on 9/11.
  • 6 Northern Waterthrushes, 6 Swainson’s Thrushes, etc, Capisic Pond Park, Portland, 9/11 (with Down East Adventures Fall Songbird Workshop group).
  • 3 Saltmarsh Sparrows, 2 Nelson’s Sparrows, 15+ “sharp-tailed sparrow sp.,” 5 Pectoral Sandpipers, etc, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 9/13 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 3rd-cycle LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, Pine Point, Scarborough, 9/14 (with clients from CA and CO).
  • 1 juv. WESTERN SANDPIPER, Biddeford Pool Beach, Biddeford, 9/14 (with clients from CA and CO; Noah Gibb photo).
  • 1500-2000 Tree Swallows, Mile Stretch, Biddeford, 9/14 (with clients from CA and CO).
  • Sandy Point Morning Flight, 9/15: 2,115 migrants of 40 species including 15 species of wablers. Full count here.
  • Sandy Point Morning Flight, 9/16: 394 migrants of 33 species including 12 species of warblers. Full count here.

This Week’s Highlights: September 5-9, 2022

Incredibly, there are still White Ibis in the Webhannet Marsh of Wells. Present since 8/10, I had at least 7 birds on the 9th, including a group of 6 that was relatively close to Drake’s Island Road.

After returning from a weekend in Massachusetts, I was unfortunately unable to get in much birding over the past six days, other than our yard and morning dogwalks. However, our yard in particular has been very productive, including over a dozen species of warblers and three continuing juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  Furthermore, since the storm pulled away, dead calm nights have precluded any drifting of migrants and therefore there wasn’t a single morning where I attempted a morning flight count at Sandy Point. Therefore, my observations of note over the past 5 days was limited to Friday, when I actually went birding. The highlights included:

  • 1 adult with 1 juvenile CASPIAN TERN and four Common Nighthawks, Seapoint Beach, Kittery, 9/9.
  • 1 immature Great Cormorant, The Nubble, Cape Neddick, 9/9.
  • 7 continuing WHITE IBIS, Webhannet Marsh, Wells, 9/9. 1 distant to the south of Harbor Road and 6 close to Drake’s Island Road in the early pm high tide.

Tomorrow (Saturday, 9/10) is our second Zeiss Day here at the store. We’ll have a full range of Zeiss products to test drive during our morning birdwalk, and day-long hawkwatch.  For more information, see this link on our website.

The weather conditions precluded time at Sandy Point this week, but I was also suffering from peep withdrawal. Luckily, I had 255 Semipalmated and 12 Least Sandpipers to sort through at Kittery’s Seapoint Beach on Friday morning. Couldn’t tease out a rarity though, but I tried.

This Week’s Highlights, August 24-September 2, 2022

The amazing run of ultra-rare raptors in Maine continued with the all-too-short visit of a Eurasian (Western) Marsh Harrier last week. First found on North Haven on 8/25, it was then relocated the next day in Weskeag Marsh. I finished a tour that morning and raced eastward to South Thomaston. After waiting only 20 minutes (others had been waiting nearly 5 hours), it appeared and put on a show for about 30-45 minutes.  After a reappearance the next morning, it has disappeared up birders up and down the East Coast are on high alert!

After returning from our summer vacation to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (see link)…

…my observations of note over the past seven days included:

  • EURASIAN (WESTERN) MARSH HARRIER, Weskeag Marsh, South Thomaston, 8/26 (with Evan Obercian and m.obs). Photo above.
  • 1 Olive-sided Flycatcher, Highland Road, Brunswick, 8/27 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 154 Snowy Egrets, 106 Green-winged Teal, etc, etc, Pine Point, Scarborough, 8/28.
  • 1 continuing proposed TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X SNOWY EGRET hybrid, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 8/28.
  • 7 continuing WHITE IBIS in non-exhaustive search, Harbor Road, Wells, 8/30 (with Jeannette).
  • 6 SANDHILL CRANES (two pairs with one juvenile each), Mayall Road, Gray/New Gloucester, 9/1.
  • SANDY POINT MORNING FLIGHT (FOY), 9/2: 482 total individuals including 2 DICKCISSELS and 20 species of warblers.  Complete tally here.

And my shorebird high counts over these past ten days included some fine tallies but much reduced diversity, mostly due to recent heavy rains filling the best high-marsh salt pannes:

  • AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER: 2 ad, Pine Point, Scarborough, 8/28.
  • Black-bellied Plover: 118, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 8/27 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • Killdeer: 14, Mayall Road, Gray/New Gloucester, 8/25.
  • Semipalmated Plover: 179, Pine Point, 8/28.
  • Sanderling: 2, Sebago Lake State Park (rare inland), 8/25.
  • Least Sandpiper: 66, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 8/28.
  • White-rumped Sandpiper: 8, Pine Point, 8/28.
  • Pectoral Sandpiper: 1, Eastern Road Trail, 8/28 and Walsh Preserve, Yarmouth, 8/30.
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1,000++, Weskeag Marsh, South Thomaston, 8/26. Honorary mention of 45-500 at Wharton Point on 8/27 – my highest tally here in years (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • Short-billed Dowitcher: 24, Pine Point, 8/28.
  • Spotted Sandpiper: 2, Sebago Lake State Park, 8/25.
  • Solitary Sandpiper: 1, several locations this week.
  • Lesser Yellowlegs: 48, Walsh Preserve, Yarmouth, 8/30.
  • “Eastern” Willet: 16, Pine Point, 8/28.
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 15, Weskeag Marsh, South Thomaston, 8/26.
Just a very small part of an impressive feeding frenzy of Double-crested Cormorants and
Snowy Egrets that were at Pine Point in Scarborough on the 25th.