Category Archives: Birding in Maine

This Week’s Highlights: November 26 – December 2, 2022

I found this rather cooperative, late Orange-crowned Warbler at Pond Cove in Cape Elizabeth – my 10th of the fall. Unfortunately, my camera was insisting it was the sticks I wanted a photo of, so this is the best I did.

Some of my highlights over the past seven days included the following. For the most part, my birds of note were decidedly more wintery than in the past weeks, although “late/lingering” oddities are making an appearance with the slow progression of the season and resultant concentration at seasonal hotspots.

  • 1 Red Crossbill, private property in Freeport, 11/24 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Hermit Thrush, private property in Freeport, 11/25.
  • 1 light morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (FOS), Hinckley Road, Clinton, 11/28 (with Jeannette).
  • 59 Green-winged Teal (late, especially for such a large number), 1 Wood Duck, 6 Lesser Scaup, etc, Sebasticook Lake, 11/28 (with Jeannette).
  • 4 drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYES (FOS), University of Maine – Orono Steam Plant Nature Trail, 11/28 (with Jeannette).
  • 1+ PINE GROSBEAK (FOS), Sunkhaze NWR, 11/29 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 immature Northern Shrike (FOS), Veazie Waterfront Park, 11/29 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 1st-winter Iceland Gull, Bangor Waterfront Park, 11/29 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Pond Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 12/2.
  • 1 FIELD SPARROW, 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, 1 imm. White-crowned Sparrow, and 1 Winter Wren, Private property in Cape Elizabeth, 12/2.
  • 4+ Red Crossbills, flying over the store, 12/2.

This Week’s Highlights: November 11 – November 18, 2022

I found this presumptive BLACK-HEADED X RING-BILLED GULL HYBRID along Greely Road in Cumberland during steady rain in the late morning of the 13th. It looks very similar to the individual of this hybrid pair that wintered on the Falmouth waterfront for at least two years, 2019-20, and 2020-21. Could it be the same bird with a little more black on the head due to the earlier date?

Rarity season is upon us, but most of my birding this week was in and around our yard. Not that that wasn’t extremely enjoyable though!  A few forays afield did not produce those hoped-for November “Megas,” but I did see a few things of note over the past eight days including:

  • Evening Grosbeaks have been present daily at our feeders in Durham all week. 7 on 11/11 peaked at 32 on 11/12 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Lapland Longspur (FOF), over our yard in Durham, 11/11.
  • 1 RUSTY BLACKBIRD, our feeders in Durham, 11/12 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 first-winter Iceland Gull (FOF), Thornhurst Farm, 11/13.
  • 1 PUTATIVE BLACK-HEADED X RING-BILLED GULL HYBIRD, Greely Road, Cumberland, 11/13. First distant observation in driving rain suggested a much, much darker head and mantle, but finally relocated closer to the road. Joined by Nick Lund and Reed and Laura Robinson. 
  • Red Crossbills have been regular fly-overs in our Durham yard this week, but 10 were feeding on Eastern Hemlocks on 11/17.
  • 3 continuing CANVASBACKS, 398 Ruddy Ducks, 320 mixed scaup (too far to reliably sort through, 1 Evening Grosbeak, 1 Winter Wren, etc, etc, Sabattus Pond, Sabattus, 11/17.

This Week’s Highlights: October 29 – November 4, 2022

Evening Grosbeaks are predicted to head south in good numbers this fall and winter, and the first indications of that are appearing locally. Here’s one of the 8 that arrived at our
Durham feeders on the morning of the 3rd.

My observations of note over the past seven days included the following:

  • 2 Rusty Blackbirds, Wolfe’s Neck Center, 10/29 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 4+ Red Crossbills and 1 Eastern Phoebe, Morgan Meadow WMA, 10/31 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 “Ipswich” Savannah Sparrow (FOF), 1 Semipalmated Plover, etc, Reid State Park, Georgetown, 11/1 (with Jeannette).
  • Sandy Point Morning Flight, 11/2: 154 individuals of 18 species in what was likely my last visit of the season. Complete count here.
  • Sabattus Pond, 11/3 (with Dan Nickerson): 469 Ruddy Ducks, 79 Greater Scaup, 55 Lesser Scaup, 2 Common Goldeneyes (FOF), etc.
  • 8 EVENING GROSBEAKS, our feeders in Durham, 11/3 (first of fall locally; photo above).

This Week’s Highlights: October 15 -21, 2022

I spent a lot of time looking at sparrows this week, as I love to do in October. This snappy immature White-crowned Sparrow was at Wolfe’s Neck Center on the 16th.

My observations of note over the past seven days included the following:

  • 1 continuing HUDSONIAN GODWIT, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 10/15 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group; the 247th all-time Saturday Morning Birdwalk species!). Observed at closer range later from the Maquoit Bay Conservation Land.
  • 1 Indigo Bunting, Wolfe’s Neck Center, Freeport, 10/16.
  • Incredibly morning at Bailey Island, Harpswell with Jeannette on 10/17: 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 1 CAPE MAY WARBLER, 1 Blue-headed Vireo, 1 Red-eyed Vireo.  6 total species of warblers; 7 species of sparrows. 400+ Dark-eyed Juncos, 200+ Yellow-rumped Warblers, 150+ White-throated Sparrows, 150+ Song Sparrows, etc, etc.
  • 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, our yard in Durham, 10/17.
  • 1 Red Crossbill, our yard in Durham, 10/19.
  • 353 Ruddy Ducks, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 61 Lesser Scaup, 18 Greater Scaup, etc, Sabattus Pond, Sabattus, 10/20.
  • 2 EVENING GROSBEAKS, 1 Common Yellowthroat, 50+ Swamp Sparrows, etc, Old Town House Park, North Yarmouth, 10/21.
I whiffed on phone-binning an Orange-crowned Warbler at Bailey Island on the 17th as I apparently followed the wrong bird. Turned out the other bird was this tardy Blue-headed Vireo, however.

This Week’s Highlights: October 8 -14, 2022

Northern Fulmar on our ½ day Pelagic on Tuesday.

My birding levels were closer to par for me this week, albeit concentrated on building our new yard list! The last two group tours of the year – both by boat – were conducted this week, with overall great success. It was also nice to have a few mornings to get some casual birding in before work. This is my favorite time of the birding year, afterall!

  • 1 Marsh Wren (in a dry patch of burdock!), our yard in Durham, 10/8.
  • 1 Bobolink, Wolfe’s Neck Center, Freeport, 10/8 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Long-tailed Duck (first of fall), 3 Snowy Egrets, 115 Surf Scoters, etc, Birds of Casco Bay Boat Tour, 10/9.
  • 1 Indigo Bunting in a very light morning flight at Sandy Point, Cousin’s Island, Yarmouth, 10/10 (total – 87 migrants).
  • ½ Day Pelagic out of Boothbay Harbor on 10/11: 1 Common Murre, 1 Parasitic Jaeger, 1 Pomarine Jaeger, 3 Northern Fulmars, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, etc.  Full trip report with photos and annotated checklist, along with my Stercorariidae mea culpa can be seen here.
  • Sabattus Pond, Sabattus, 10/13: 158 RUDDY DUCKS, 84 Lesser Scaup, 56 Greater Scaup, 2 American Wigeon, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Ring-necked Duck, etc.

Boothbay Mini-Pelagic Trip Report, 10/11/22

Northern Fulmar

Our third and final ½ Day Pelagic with our partners Cap’n Fish’s cruises out of Boothbay Harbor took place on a glorious fall day on Tuesday, October 11th.

OK, let’s get right down to business: it was NOT a South Polar Skua. This is not the first time a mea culpa was issued over a Stercorariidae. It won’t be the last. Certainly not my last, anyway.  But yeah, I got this one wrong, and I apologize.

We spotted a large, dark, and very heavy-looking skua/jaeger in flight parallel to the boat. Captain Nick did an exceptional job of staying with it, staying parallel to it, affording incredible views for an unusually long amount of time.  We were traveling at 18.2 knots, and the bird was slowly taking the lead. When it looked like it was thinking of landing, I had Nick angle slightly away so as not to make the bird concerned. It worked! It landed, we slowly worked our way up to it, and almost circled it before it took off.  High-fives were exchanged. Smiles reigned. We got a skua!  Big, barrel-chested, thick dark bill, and short tail. The very cold tones and extensive molt strongly suggested South Polar Skua. It would be a life bird for many.

I was convinced in the field, and I was convinced when I got off the boat. Everyone I talked to was convinced too. Other than a small feeling that the bill looked a little long, and the bird looked a little, well, not-menacing on the water, I had little doubt. But as I announce on all of my pelagics, all jaeger and skua identifications are provisional until I can review photographs.

The doubt -err, fear – began in the evening, as I looked over Jeannette’s shoulder as she began to sort photos. Starting with the skua, I wanted to make sure it was in fact a South Polar, and not a Great. That was my only real concern.  But then I saw her pics. I was observing through 8x binoculars, she was shooting at 400mm.  Details would likely emerge that I could not see in the field.  And I didn’t like those details.

That rear end did look a little tapered. The bill did seem a little thin. And wait, is that barring in the underwings? Uh-oh. Are we sure? What about the location of white within the outer primaries? Is it too narrow? And boy, it looks cuter on the water than I expected. And that bill does look two-toned and kinda long.

Photos were sent to a friend. The shadow of doubt cast over the room. He immediately said “Pomarine.”  But we discussed, and he left it off as “but I could buy this as a skua.” Another friend “That’s a skua.”  “I’m flip-flopping…maybe a hint of barring on the undertail and underwing coverts, but it looks so skua-like…the molt pattern is identical to one I saw a couple of weeks ago.”  Back and forth with these three friends continued. I posted to the Skuas and Jaegers of the World Facebook page; “Definitely a skua…” said the first commentor. Books and papers were referenced.

More photos were received.  And discussion continued.  Some photos showed what could be nearly impossible to argue was anything other than a South Polar Skua. I only wanted to look at these.

I mean, look at that short little tail!
And those dark underwings!

Sheepishly – knowing how tired he must be after a long drive to and from in the same day, I asked my friend Bill Thompson to check his photos. He jumped right on it, and sent this.

Well, crap.

Is that the beginning of the long, round-tipped central tail feathers of a Pomarine Jaeger? They’re so broad. And the rest of the tail is a worn, ratty disaster. That would explain why it looked so short-tailed in the field. But that bill looks short, stout, and all-dark.

I asked for an underwing shot.

Yeah, that looks barred. But still, that bird was a massive keg.

These photos were entered into the various discussions, and uncertainty ruled as I finally passed out from boat and skua-induced exhaustion.

I awoke – stalled in turning my phone on – and what little glimmer of hope was crushed when I opened some emails from Tony Carapella that clearly showed a Pomarine Jaeger. I mean clearly, unequivocally, without a doubt.

“And upon further review, the call on the field is overturned. After the play, personal foul, unnecessary roughness on the trip leader’s self esteem. 15 yards…”

Sorry, folks, I got this one wrong.

But, hey, the rest of the trip was decent, too, even if we scratched the headliner off the top. Right? Please tell me it’s all OK?

Of course, this wasn’t the only quandary on the day either. Late in the trip, three jaegers gave us the slip. I am hoping someone got some distant photos that might yield a hint, but for now, they will go unidentified.  There were also two larger dolphins within a small group of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins.  Kelsey and I are still trying to figure things out. Stay tuned. They were not skuas, either, however.

Several Northern Fulmars included one that eventually gave fantastic views. We had a few Black-legged Kittiwakes, and Captain Nick did an amazing job getting us a close look at the first one that was loafing on the water. We also had an American Pipit fly-by, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler land in the cabin and rest for a while before departing.  

And it was an absolutely, insanely gorgeous day. The water had only a slight ripple, there was virtually no swell, and it was warm with plenty of sun (but just enough high clouds to reduce the glare). There could not be a better day to head into deep water in the Gulf of Maine.

In fact, the unreasonably benign conditions allowed us to motor even further offshore than usual to explore a new area. After finding two of our favorite spots a little, well, low on birds, we headed out about 28 miles to an area we found on the map known as “Mistaken Ground” where the bottom plunged to a depth of 918 feet.  I accept the name as a warning that maybe this would not be a good decision. But alas, it was where most of our action was. I could have spent all day here.

Northern Gannets

While the chum slick failed to work, perhaps because it wasn’t windy enough to waft the odor towards hungry birds, and there were long stretches with virtually no life in sight, overall, we had a solid list for merely 4.5 hours offshore.  The proximity to deep water and interesting underwater topography afforded by starting from Boothbay Harbor allows us to run these trips in a shorter timeframe, especially for those learning to get their sea legs. And today was definitely a day for building up one’s oceanic confidence. Confidence in skua identification, however, well, that is another story. Apparently, my “mistaken ground” was thinking I could identify these birds before studying photos on the computer! 

Here’s the annotated trip list:

  • 8 Canada Geese
  • 970 Common Eider
  • 113 Surf Scoter
  • 12 White-winged Scoters
  • 24 Rock Pigeon
  • 1 POMARINE JAEGER (see treatise above)
  • 1 PARASITIC JAEGER (one of the three distant birds that turned out to be identifiable from photos)
  • 2 Unidentified jaegers
  • 1 COMMON MURRE (spotted in outer harbor by a few observers)
  • 1 Razorbill (confirmed from jaeger photo bomb)
  • 9 Black Guillemots
  • 7 Black-legged Kittiwakes
  • 2 Bonaparte’s Gulls
  • 145 Herring Gulls
  • 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
With Great Black-backed Gull (right)
  • 51 Great Black-backed Gulls
  • 3 NORTHERN FULMAR
With Great Black-backed Gulls
  • 1 Red-throated Loon
  • 15 Common Loons
  • 242 Northern Gannets
  • 75 Double-crested Cormorants
  • 2 Great Blue Herons
  • 2 Bald Eagles
  • 1 Merlin
  • 8 American Crows
  • 1 American Pipit
  • 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 1 Unidentified passerine.

Mammals:

  • 1 Minke Whale
  • 1 small pod of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins
  • 2 unidentified larger dolphins (still working on ID possibilities but we have no conclusive photos yet)
  • 2 Gray Seals
  • # Harbor Porpoise
  • # Harbor Seals

Insects:

  • 1 Monarch

This Week’s Highlights: September 22- October 7, 2022.

“Warblers on the ground” was the theme of this year’s Monhegan Fall Migration Weekend tour. While Blackpoll Warblers dominated the apple piles, this Cape May Warbler was my favorite photo subject.

It’s been a crazy two weeks! Other than two wonderful weekends on Monhegan – personal and professional – and an incredibly Sandy Point Morning Flight last week, my birding has been seriously limited. With the weather pattern and so many rarities around, this was frustrating, but as of today, we have (mostly) completed our move from Pownal to Durham. 

  • Monhegan Island, 9/22-9/26. Highlights included 1 LARK SPARROW, 6 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, 3 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS, 2 DICKCISSELS, 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 16 species of warblers, and an insane falcon show. Complete Tour Report and daily checklist here. 
  • Sandy Point Morning Flight, 9/29: 6,183 migrants of 69 species highlighted by 1 BLUE GROSBEAK, 20 species of warblers, and my 195th all-time patch bird in 2 high-flying Little Blue Herons!  It was a great enough day to deserve its own blog, which can be found here.
  • 1 Brown Thrasher, here at the store, 9/29. Our second ever in the garden here.
  • Pownal Morning Flight, 9/30: 289 individuals of 29 species. Complete list here. Our last morning flight at our old property, with a final yard list of 136.
  • Monhegan Island, 9/30-10/2 with Jeannette. We were here for a friends’ event, so birding was not always the priority. Nonetheless, we had some good birds included the continuing juvenile RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, at least one continuing CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and DICKCISSEL, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, our first coastal Pine Siskin of the fall, a late Veery, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in every apple tree, warblers on the ground, and a big Yellow-rumped Warbler morning flight on the 1st

Monhegan Fall Migration Weekend, Sept 2022.

This Cape May Warbler was one of many birds that escaped the strong winds by finding large flies eating rotting apples that littered the ground all over the island.

I arrived on the island on Thursday (9/22). Be happy that the tour didn’t start this day. It rained. A Lot. However, I was greeted by 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Smuttynose Island upon my arrival: 5 adults and 1 juvenile.  It turned out to be one of the highest counts ever on the island. That would also turn out to be my birding highlight of the day, as a short jaunt in the afternoon only yielded one species that I would not end up seeing with the group: a juvenile Ring-billed Gull, which is actually a very uncommon bird out here.

The sunset, however, was worth the trip, and the clearing skies foretold some good birding to come.

Overnight, a moderate migration on clearing skies brought many new birds to the island. The group met at 9:00, and we picked up the rest of the day’s participants as their ferry arrived. It was very windy today, but all day long, whenever we found a pocket of shelter, we found birds. It was mostly Yellow-rumped and Blackpoll Warblers, as expected for the date, but there was a decent smattering of diversity. 

Between the winds and the raptors, birds were keeping low though! But speaking of raptors – wow, the falcon show!  It was incredible. There is absolutely no way of knowing how many Peregrine Falcons and Merlins we saw today, with birds whipping by overhead. Some were hunting, and likely circling the island to do so, but it’s also possible that there was a steady flow of birds moving south, only pausing to wink at the island. It was impossible to quantify, but it was a whole lot of fun to watch!

Merlin.
Immature Peregrine Falcon
Northern Flickers had to stay low and out of sight to survive the day.

We enjoyed quality time with Cedar Waxwings, Monarch butterflies, and enjoyed some gorgeous Question Mark butterflies as well.  White-crowned Sparrows were rather conspicuous, and we had a good lesson in duck identification with Mallards, an American Black Duck, and a hybrid thereof all side-by-side.

Black-throated Green Warbler on post-cider-making apple mash.

Wind was whipping all night long and continued to gust well over 20mph as of sunrise. With a high-pressure system building in, and powerful Hurricane Fiona passing well to our east, the wind would just not let up. Several ferries were cancelled, and if you happened to be in the room that a screen door was slamming up against all night (ahem), then maybe you were not as rested as you would have liked.

The Gray NEXRAD radar was down, but the Caribou station showed a moderate flight of birds overnight with marginally lighter winds over the mainland. A light morning flight – mostly strong-flying Blackpoll Warblers – didn’t portend a lot of birds had arrived, but pockets of White-throated Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers in places where they weren’t yesterday suggested otherwise.  In fact, there were a bunch of birds around, and it was a very productive morning!

We visited with two cooperative Dickcissels that have been around for days, caught up with the lingering Lark Sparrow, and were among the lucky ones who caught up with an early Orange-crowned Warbler.   All before lunch.

Dickcissels.
Lark Sparrow

And while the wind continued to gust, and uncountable falcons continued to wreak havoc, anytime we found a corner of shelter, we found birds – and often lots of them!  White-throated Sparrows littered the woods, and because of the wind, many birds were insanely easy to see.

One of the highlights were warblers on the ground – hatches of large flies were feasting on rotting apples below laden trees, and with no flying insects able to survive a foot into the air today, we spent a lot of time looking DOWN at warblers.

Blackpoll Warblers
Cape May Warbler.
We also made it over to the cliffs to see what may have been in the island’s lee.
Female Green-winged Teal
Scarlet Tanager
We saved this Gartner Snake from a cat’s mouth on our way to not seeing a Red-headed Woodpecker that was playing hard to get for us.

Finally, as dusk fell, the winds subsided. Unfortunately, by early nightfall, the winds were already a little more westerly than we would have liked. Come Sunday morning, a surprisingly light morning flight, dominated by Yellow-rumped Warblers almost exclusively, reflected the lack of the northerly component overnight.  Birds seemed to be in lower quantities overall – a lot of Blackpoll Warblers had apparently departed – and with calm conditions (so, so welcome), there were fewer concentrations of birds. 

Throughout the day, it was relatively slow by Monhegan standards, but we just kept adding new species to the triplist, and basking in repeated stellar views. The two Dickcissels were in their usual place throughout the day, a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull continued, and later in the morning we found a Marsh Wren – very uncommon out here.

Marsh Wren

In the afternoon, we had a splendid sparrow session. We had our longest looks yet at the Lark Sparrow, but after a report of one Clay-colored Sparrow at the same spot, we arrived to find three!  A Lincoln’s Sparrow even came out into the open to join the Song, Chipping, White-throated, White-crowned, and Savannah Sparrows, making for an impressive total of 7 species of sparrows from one spot!  Of course, the comparative experience makes all the difference in learning these species – as most look so very different from each other. Well, most of them did, anyway!  A solid 76 species were tallied by day’s end.

Clay-colored Sparrow with juvenile Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Blackpoll Warbler.

The last day of the tour was Monday the 26th, and our time was winding down. So were the number of non-Yellow-rumped Warblers. Some light showers overnight may have put a few birds down, but winds were southwesterly thereafter, and the Caribou radar (the Gray station was still down) showed little movement.  The morning flight was therefore virtually non-existent.

We found an Indigo Bunting, and later, an Alder Flycatcher confused and disoriented, stuck in the ice cutting display building of the Monhegan Museum.  Three Clay-colored Sparrows were still present; we had good looks at two of them at the school and had another session comparing them to the variety of ages of Chipping Sparrows they were cajoling around with. The Lark Sparrow also performed nicely for us again.

Alder Flycatcher in the museum’s ice-cutting shed. It eventually figured out the lighting and got itself out.
Clay-colored Sparrow
Two of the three Clay-colored Sparrows, here, with a Chipping Sparrow in the middle.

It felt very slow, especially in the afternoon, when we took time to enjoy Fringed Gentian and repeatedly “dip” on a Red-headed Woodpecker that most everyone except us had eventually seen. Yet interestingly, we kept finding new species for our day’s list, and by the time the tour ended in time to catch the 4:30 ferry to Port Clyde, we had accumulated our highest species total of the weekend – a goodly 81.

The apparent abundance of some species – such as White-breasted Nuthatch, which we conservatively estimated included the presence of 4-6 pairs despite apparent omnipresence and Blackpoll Warblers on the ground – continued to impress as well.

Blackpoll Warbler.

With today’s new additions along with Laughing Gulls on our ferry ride back, our total trip listed amounted to 95 species! So despite the strong winds that howled for the first two days of the tour, and unfavorable southerly winds for the last day and a half, our 95 species was exactly average for the 11 years we have run the trip on this same weekend. 16 species of warblers was a mere one species below average. Taking our challenging weather into consideration, I would absolutely call this a win! Plus, we were on Monhegan, so all is well, as an average day/weekend on Monhegan sure beats the same anywhere else – for so many reasons.

* denotes ferry ride only           

23-Sep  24-Sep  25-Sep  26-Sep

Canada Goose 8 18 19 8
Wood Duck 0 1 1 1
American Black Duck 2 2 1 1
Mallard 15 24 24 24
Mallard x American Black Duck Hybrid 1 1 1 1
Green-winged Teal 0 1 2 1
Common Eider x x x x
Ring-necked Pheasant 20 12 12 8
Mourning Dove 20 15 18 18
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2 2 1 0
Semipalmated Plover 0 0 1 0
Killdeer 0 0 1 0
Solitary Sandpiper 1 1 1 0
Black Guillemot 2 6 2 6
Laughing Gull 0 0 0 2*
Herring Gull x x x x
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL 2 0 1 1
Great Black-backed Gull x x x x
Common Loon 0 0 0 1
Northern Gannet 10 10 8 20
Double-crested Cormorant x x x x
Great Cormorant 0 0 0 3
Northern Harrier 0 0 1 0
Osprey 4 4 2 2
Bald Eagle 1 0 1 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0 2 2
Belted Kingfisher 1 1 0 0
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 12 10 20
Downy Woodpecker 2 2 2 2
Northern Flicker 30 40 20 30
American Kestrel 1 2 3 4
Merlin 8 15 10 10
Peregrine Falcon 10 10 5 5
Eastern Wood-Pewee 0 1 0 1
Alder Flycatcher 1 0 0 1
“Traill’s” Flycatcher 0 0 0 1
Least Flycatcher 1 1 0 0
Eastern Phoebe 6 4 4 6
Red-eyed Vireo 10 10 6 8
Blue Jay 8 6 18 12
American Crow 6 4 4 4
Common Raven 1 2 2 2
Black-capped Chickadee x x x x
Golden-crowned Kinglet 0 0 4 4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 2 6 6
Cedar Waxwing 50 2 38 38
Red-breasted Nuthatch 15 10 6 10
White-breasted Nuthatch 4 6 4 4
Brown Creeper 0 0 1 1
House Wren 0 0 1 2
Carolina Wren 3 3 4 4
MARSH WREN 0 0 1 0
Gray Catbird 6 8 6 10
Brown Thrasher 1 0 0 0
European Starling 18 18 18 18
Veery 0 0 1 0
Swainson’s Thrush 1 6 3 4
American Robin 4 4 8 12
American Pipit 1 1 1 0
Purple Finch 14 8 4 4
LARK SPARROW 0 1 1 1
American Goldfinch 8 10 14 14
Chipping Sparrow 0 10 15 15
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW 0 0 3 3
Dark-eyed Junco 2 10 6 10
White-crowned Sparrow 2 4 8 8
White-throated Sparrow 26 150 50 50
Savannah Sparrow 1 4 3 4
Song Sparrow 20 30 20 20
Lincoln’s Sparrow 0 0 2 2
Swamp Sparrow 0 0 1 2
Baltimore Oriole 2 2 6 6
Red-winged Blackbird 0 1 1 1
Bobolink 0 0 1 0
Rusty Blackbird 0 0 6 0
Common Grackle 12 24 24 24
Black-and-white Warbler 1 1 0 0
Tennessee Warbler 0 15 3 3
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER 0 1 0 0
Nashville Warbler 0 4 1 1
American Redstart 0 2 0 2
Common Yellowthroat 8 10 4 10
Cape May Warbler 5 10 6 6
Northern Parula 1 7 4 2
Magnolia Warbler 2 0 0 0
Yellow Warbler 5 3 2 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler 0 0 0 1
Blackpoll Warbler 50 75 20 15
Palm Warbler 2 4 10 6
PINE WARBLER 0 2 0 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 70 50 50 75
Black-throated Green Warbler 5 3 0 1
Scarlet Tanager 0 2 2 2
Northern Cardinal 6 8 8 10
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 0 0 1 3
Indigo Bunting 1 0 0 1
DICKCISSEL 2 2 1 1

Day Total 67 71 80 81
Warbler day total 10 14 9 12

4-Day Tour total= 95
Plus on my own before the tour =2 (Ring-billed Gull and Tree Swallow)
Total warblers = 16

Blackpoll Warblers were the “migrant of the weekend” with unforgettable views and quality time each day.

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 Barker; photo below).
  • 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 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.