A remarkable bird for Maine, let alone in under-birded (away from Sabattus Pond anyway) Androscoggin County, I was privileged to be able to visit this Harris’s Sparrow on private property in Turner on the 13th, the day after we returned from vacation. It was most cooperative, being constantly in view for the 35 minutes I was there. Unfortunately, it was a dark and dreary morning, so my photos leave something to be desired!
A few observations of note over the past five days as I tried to squeeze in as much birding as I could before I undergo shoulder surgery included the following. Even if I missed the Livermore Falls Townsend’s Solitaire twice (darn it), it was a very productive week, headlined by my second Harris’s Sparrow in Maine (and one of my favorite sparrows, too!).
1 female Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bernard Lown Peace Bridge, Lewiston/Auburn, 1/13.
1 adult Iceland Gull, North River Road boat launch, Auburn, 1/13.
1 continuing HARRIS’S SPARROW (present since 1/11), private property in Turner, 1/13 (photo above).
1 Pine Grosbeak (first of season), Hillman Ferry Road, Livermore Falls, 1/13 (did not find the Townsend’s Solitaire that day, unfortunately).
2 drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYES, between Winslow Park and the Harraseekett Yacht Club, South Freeport, 1/14 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
8 Black-legged Kittiwakes, Short Sands Beach, York, 1/15 (with Down East Adventures Winter Waterbirds Workshop group).
1 adult Iceland Gull, The Nubble, York, 1/15 (with Down East Adventures Winter Waterbirds Workshop group).
It was a busy – and exceptionally productive – birding week for me! The extensive list of highlights – including two full days of private guiding which cleaned up on most of our regular wintering species in southern Maine – were as follows:
7 BARROW’S GOLDENEYES, Winslow Park, Freeport, 2/26 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk Group). Two days later, on 2/28, Allison Anholt, Cameron Cox, Jeannette, and I had an incredible EIGHT birds (4 pairs). This is my highest count here (or anywhere else in southern Maine) in nearly a decade. At least 6 were still present on 3/3 (with clients from Texas).
1 interesting, likely hybrid GLAUCOUS GULL X HERRING GULL, Bath Landfill, 3/1 (with Jeannette). Showing characteristics consistent of this fairly-regular hybrid pair, the much darker primaries suggest the possibility of a second-generation hybrid – perhaps a backcross with a Herring Gull. Discussion on this bird continues but this is the current consensus. Unfortunately, the phone-scoped photos were further challenged by photographing through the debris netting.
1 drake Northern Pintail, Falmouth Town Landing, 3/2.
1 2nd winter Iceland Gull, Mill Creek Cove, South Portland, 3/3 (with clients from Texas).
1 Killdeer (FOY), Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth, 3/3 (with clients from Texas).
Returning from vacation late on Tuesday night, it was right back to work. But a limited time out and about on Thursday morning followed by a full-day of private guiding on Friday produced several highlights:
1 adult BLACK-HEADED GULL, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 2/17 (photo above).
THE STELLER’S SEA-EAGLE, Rte 127 bridge between Arrowsic and Georgetown, 2/18, 10:45 to 12:30pm (with clients from Delaware). While searching for it earlier – as well as while watching it and birding elsewhere thereafter – the number of Bald Eagles in the air today was impressive. We had at least 25 over the course of the day. But many were pairs in courtship flight. It made we wonder if the recent unpredictable movements of the Steller’s was related to increased territoriality in our local, abundant Bald Eagles. Here’s a distantly-phone-scoped-with-wind-driven-scope-shake-and-cold-hands for what it’s worth.
1 drake and 2 hen BARROW’S GOLDENEYES, Doughty Cove, Brunswick/Harpswell, 2/18 (with clients from Delaware).
3 Turkey Vultures, over downtown Bath, 2/18 (with clients from Delaware).
3 Turkey Vultures, over the store here in Freeport, 2/18.
It was another great week of winter birding for me! Unfortunately, we had friends visiting for three days and the Steller’s Sea-Eagle was not seen on any of them. In fact, it has not been seen since Monday morning, 1/24 in the Boothbay area. I joined them for two days of searching, and we did have several birds of note as we scoured the area thoroughly. Meanwhile, with the deep freeze continuing, river ice is building up and so it was a great week to see Barrow’s Goldeneyes – one of my favorite winter birds in Maine.
6 (!) BARROW’S GOLDENEYES, Winslow Park, Freeport, 1/22 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group). This is my highest count in at least 4-5 years here.
1 adult Peregrine Falcon, Upper Street, Turner, 1/23 – I rarely see them away from downtown L-A in Androscoggin County, especially in winter. I would have assumed this was one of those Lewiston birds but I had just left the pair looking content in downtown. Not that I drive faster than a Peregrine, mind you.
1 Turkey Vulture, Drake’s Island, Wells, 1/24 (with Jeannette).
1 Horned Lark, Parson’s Beach, Kennebunk, 1/24 (with Jeannette).
18+ Razorbills, Spruce Point Inn, Boothbay, 1/25 (with Tom Reed, Emily Wilmoth, and Jeannette).
1 pair BARROW’S GOLDENEYES, Doughty Cove, Harpswell, 1/27 (with Tom Reed, Emily Wilmoth, and Jeannette).
1 SNOWY OWL, Land’s End, Bailey Island, Harpswell, 1/27 (with Tom Reed). This was a really incredible and memorable sighting. In the desperate searching for the Steller’s Sea-Eagle, I was following a very distant eagle (it was a Bald) out over the bay to our east when I called out “I think I have an owl!” Materializing out of the distance and heat shimmer, it took a while for us to identify it as a Snowy Owl. We followed it for several minutes as it finally came closer and passed by, landing on the backside of Jaquish Island. This was only my second-ever Snowy Owl observed in apparent “visible migration,” or at the very least, making a long diurnal water crossing.
1 drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE and 1-2 Yellow-rumped Warblers, Bailey Island, 1/27 (with Tom Reed and Emily Wilmoth).
21 Sanderlings, Reid State Park, 1/27 (with Tom Reed and Emily Wilmoth).
NOTES: Due to the posting of a blizzard warning for tomorrow, we are canceling the Saturday Morning Birdwalk and we expect to be closed for the day. Stay tuned to our store’s Facebook page for any updates.
It was a very good week of birding for me! My observations of note over the past seven days included the following:
1 female KING EIDER, The Nubble, Cape Neddick, 2/14.
1 continuing pair Green-winged Teal, Abbott’s Pond, York, 2/14.
1 Northern Flicker, US Route 1, Kittery, 2/14.
1 Hermit Thrush, Maquoit Bay Conservation Land, 2/15.
175-200 distant scaup spp, Mere Point Boat Launch, Brunswick, 2/15.
26 Lesser Scaup and 420 Greater Scaup in careful count of birds closer than they have been, Simpson’s Point, Brunswick, 2/15.
4 BARROW’S GOLDENEYES (2 pairs), Winslow Park, Freeport, 2/18 (with Beth Edmonds and Dan Nickerson; this is my highest count in three years here).
1 putative BLACK-HEADED X RING-BILLED GULL HYBRID, Falmouth Town Landing, 2/18 (with Beth Edmonds and Dan Nickerson). Was present in February of 2020; this was the first report for this winter that I am aware of. Video at: https://fb.watch/3KpP3olnTd/
This Week in Finches:
Red Crossbill: 15 (neighborhood behind Marginal Way, Ognuquit, 2/14).