Tag Archives: Birding

This Week’s Highlights, May 7 – May 12, 2022.

This stunning Prothonotary Warbler headlined my best warbler day of the spring so far when I found it at Florida Lake Park early in the morning on the 12th. Details below. This photo does not do the Swamp Canary justice!

It was another slow week of migration. This week, high pressure dominated, and a northerly to easterly flow continued essentially unabated from Saturday through Thursday.  Winds were at least light enough at night that some birds fought the unfavorable conditions and “new” birds arrived almost every day, just never in large numbers. But it remains slim pickings, especially at migrant traps this week. Even on Thursday morning (more calm winds overnight allowed a few more birds to proceed) – my best day of the spring so far – numbers at Florida Lake were still very low for the date. The quality more than made up for it, however!

My observations of note over the past six days included:

  • 10 species of warblers in one place for the first time this spring – finally – but led by only 14 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 8 Black-and-white Warblers, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1-2 continuing Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, private property in Durham, 5/9 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 continuing Louisiana Waterthrush, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/11.
  • 1 PROTHONOTARY WARBLER among 15 species of warblers, Florida Lake Park, 5/12, led by ~25 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 9+ Black-and-white Warblers. The PROW was my 169th all-time species at the park!  I first found it along the base of the long dike at the north edge of the pond, as it belted out a song within about 8-10 feet from me. Foraging in low shrubs along the pond edge, in perfect light, I was of course without my camera. I did get some identifiable video and a recording of the song with my phone, before taking off in a sprint to the parking lot. I returned with my camera and eventually refound the bird when it sang again from the small wooded island in the lake (photo above), just as Noah Gibb arrived. It then flew right past me as it disappeared into the woods. It reappeared a short while later on the island and was seen by several more people. I am still kicking myself, however, for leaving the camera in the car when it was so close.  Such a stunning bird deserves a better photo.
If the owlet is asleep and doesn’t know you are even there, you are a safe distance away!
Great Horned Owl chick at an undisclosed location.

And my list of personal “first of years” this week also included the following:

  • 1 Veery, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Nashville Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Lincoln’s Sparrow, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Northern Waterthrush, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 Baltimore Oriole, our yard in Pownal, 5/7.
  • 1 Yellow Warbler, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 5/8.
  • 4 Common Terns, Wharton Point, 5/8.
  • 1 Great-crested Flycatcher, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/8.
  • 4 Warbling Vireos, Green Point WMA, Dresden, 5/9 (with Jeannette).
  • 3 Least Flycatchers, Green Point WMA, 5/9 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Eastern Kingbird, Green Point WMA, 5/9 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Spotted Sandpiper, Green Point WMA, 5/9 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak, private property in Durham, 5/9 (with Jeannette).
  • 2 Blackburnian Warblers, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/10.
  • 1 Chestnut-sided Warbler, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/11.
  • 1 Magnolia Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/12.
  • 1 Wilson’s Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/12 (with Noah Gibb).
For much of Tuesday afternoon, it was just me and Hawkwatch Junco at the summit of The Brad.

This Week’s Highlights, April 30 – May 6, 2022.

Maine’s 4th ever observation of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks have graced downtown Camden
for over a week now.

It was a slow start to the week with just a trickle of migrants arriving from the weekend through the storm system on Wednesday. However, a successful twitch, and a couple of light flights overnight made for a great week of spring birding.  Of course, there was also another successful Feathers Over Freeport: A Birdwatching Weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Even though they didn’t produce any birds of note, it was a wonderful weekend full of birdwatching highlights.  Photos will be posted soon, while the summary of our morning birdwalks is posted here.

My observations of note over the past seven days included:

  • 1 SANDHILL CRANE (Finally, my FOY after missing a bunch of them at the watch this year), Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/1.
  • 1 SANDHILL CRANE, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/3.
  • 1+ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, private property in Durham, 5/5 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 continuing Louisiana Waterthrush, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/6.

And my list of personal “first of years” this week also included the following:

  • 2 Chimney Swifts, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/1.
  • 1 PURPLE MARTIN, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/1.
  • 2 Black-and-white Warblers, Lily Pond, Rockport, 5/2.
  • 1 Northern Parula, Lily Pond, Rockport, 5/2.
  • 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird, our yard in Pownal, 5/3.
  • 1 Bank Swallow, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/3.
  • 2 Black-throated Green Warblers, Florida Lake, 5/3.
  • 1 Gray Catbird, feeders here at the store, 5/4.
  • 1 Ovenbird, private property in Durham, 5/5 (with Jeannette).
  • 2 Common Yellowthroats, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/6.
  • 1 Prairie Warbler, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/6.

This Week’s Highlights, April 23-29, 2022.

Palm Warblers were on the move this week, although concentrations remain low.

Persistent winds from unfavorable directions precluded a big push of migrants this week, but the season is slowly progressing. There were a couple of decent nights of migration this week, on Sunday and Monday nights. My observations of note over the past seven days included:

  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (FOY), our yard in Pownal, 4/23.
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cape Elizabeth Greenbelt Trail, 4/25 (with Jeannette).
  • 40 Purple Sandpipers, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 4/25 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, private property in Durham, 4/27.
  • 2 pairs of Gadwall, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 4/29.

And my list of personal “first of years” this week also included the following:

  • 1 Laughing Gull, Winslow Park, Freeport, 4/23 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 House Wren, here at the store, 4/23.
  • 1 early CLIFF SWALLOW, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 4/23.
  • 1 Blue-headed Vireo, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 4/24.
  • 1 RUSTY BLACKBIRD, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 4/29.
  • 1 Willet, Dunstan Landing, Scarborough Marsh, 4/29.
  • 1 LITTLE BLUE HERON, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 4/29.

And don’t forget, this weekend is Feathers Over Freeport! With the weather of the past three days in particular, it should be a great weekend for migrants!

Carolina Wren from the Saco Riverwalk on Sunday.

This Week’s Highlights, April 16-22, 2022.

Unlike last week, my birding was more limited this week, and coupled with less-than-conducive weather for migrants on most days, my observations of note were few.

  • ~50 Palm Warblers, ~25 Yellow-rumped Warblers, and 2 Pine Warblers, Florida Lake, Freeport, 4/16 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 2 female BARROW’S GOLDENEYES, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 4/17 (with Jeannette).
  • 7 Gadwall, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 4/17 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Fish Crow, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 4/20 (my 168th species here!)

And my list of personal “first of years” and other new arrivals also showed the reduced time in the field and only one good night of migration this week:

  • 78 Glossy Ibis, Scarborough Marsh, 4/17 (with Jeannette)
  • 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, Scarborough Marsh, 4/17 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, Morgan Meadow WMA, 4/21.

I hope to see you all on Monday when Jeannette and I will be presenting a program on Birding in Cuba for Merrymeeting Audubon at the Curtis Library in Brunswick at 7:00pm.

And don’t forget, next weekend is Feathers Over Freeport!

This Week’s Highlights, April 9-15, 2022.

This stunning male Indigo Bunting really brightened up a wet and dreary morning on Bailey Island on Tuesday. Rather than just a very early migrant, this bird is more likely part of an “overshooting” vagrancy event that brought several southern birds to Maine in the past week.

I had relatively few things scheduled this week, so I took full advantage to spend a little extra time in the field – it might be July by the time I get a week this open again!  While I definitely “swung for the fences” a few times in my pursuit of finding rare birds, I enjoyed a really great week of birding overall.

My observations of note over the past seven days included:

  • 1 Northern Goshawk, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 4/10.
  • 1 Red Crossbill, Waterboro Barrens Preserve, Waterboro, 4/11 (with Jeannette).

But my highlight was experiencing a fallout along the southern York County coast on 4/14, led by Song Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Golden-crowned Kinglets, but also including goodly tallies of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Flickers, and especially Hermit Thrushes. I also totaled 10 sparrow species on the day, several first-of-years, but alas, none of the hoped-for rarities. I summarized the event briefly in this post.

And my list of personal “first of years” and other new arrivals this week really showed the progression of the season.

  • 2 Hermit Thrushes, Winslow Park, Freeport, 4/9 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 7 Pam Warblers, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 4/10.
  • 2 Swamp Sparrows (FOS), Florida Lake Park, 4/10.
  • 16 Wilson’s Snipe, Highland Road, Brunswick, 4/10.
  • 5 RUDDY DUCKS, Sabattus Pond, Sabattus, 4/10.
  • 1 Barn Swallow, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 4/10.
  • 1 INDIGO BUNTING, Bailey Island, Harpswell, 4/12 (with Jeannette. See photo and note above).
  • 1 Savannah Sparrow, Bailey Island, 4/12 (with Jeannette).
  • 7 Broad-winged Hawks, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 4/12 (with Jeannette)
  • 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Florida Lake Park, 4/13.
  • 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers (FOS), Florida Lake Park, 4/13.
  • 1 drake Blue-winged Teal, Spring Brook Farm, Cumberland, 4/13.
  • 1 Chipping Sparrow, feeders here at the store, 4/13.
  • 1 Field Sparrow, Fort Foster, Kittery, 4/14.
  • 1 Eastern Towhee, Fort Foster, 4/14.
  • 1 Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Fort Foster, 4/14.
  • 1 pair GADWALL (FOS), Seapoint Beach, Kittery, 4/14.
  • 1 Dunlin (FOS), Seapoint Beach, 4/14.

And finally, the first event of this year’s extended Feathers Over Freeport celebration is Wednesday, 4/20 at Maine Beer Co. A portion of the proceeds of every food purchase will directly support the weekend’s events! I’ll be joining park staff to answer questions about our local state parks, local birding, and the Feathers Over Freeport Weekend.  For more information, visit: www.maine.gov/feathersoverfreeeport

This Week’s Highlights, April 2-8, 2022.

A distantly-phone-scoped photo of a drake Eurasian Wigeon does not do this spiffy bird justice!

A few “good” ducks, an increasing roster of new arrivals, and a successful tour were my sightings of note over the past seven days:

  • 12 NORTHERN SHOVELERS (one of my highest Maine counts), Maquoit Bay Conservation Land, Brunswick, 4/2 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 continuing drake EURASIAN WIGEON, Route 136, Durham, 4/7 (photo above). Originally found by N. Gibb on 4/3.

New Arrivals this week:

  • 2 Pied-billed Grebes (FOY), Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 4/3 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 5 Tree Swallows (FOY), Morgan Meadow WMA, 4/4 (with Jeannette).
  • 8 Great Egrets (FOY), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 1 Snowy Egret (FOY), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 1 Greater Yellowlegs (FOY), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 1 Double-crested Cormorant (FOS), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • Big arrival of more Eastern Phoebes and Song Sparrows in particular night of 4/5-6.
  • 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (FOY), private property in Durham, 4/7 (with Jeannette).

This Week’s Highlights, March 26-April 1, 2022.

Red-throated Loon, Race Point, Cape Cod.

Jeannette and I escaped for a long weekend in Cape Cod, Friday through Monday. We were mostly looking for North Atlantic Right Whales, but of course we did some birding too!  Jeannette’s whale and bird photos from the weekend are posted in this short blog about our trip:

Meanwhile, back in Maine, the strong northwesterly winds slowed the pace of migration. However, by week’s end, I had some time do a little local birding, producing the following highlights:

  • 1 Winter Wren (FOY), our yard in Pownal, 3/31.
  • 3+ American Wigeon, 2+ Northern Pintail, 30+ Wood Ducks, etc, Route 136 fields, Durham, 3/31.
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe (FOY), Thornhurst Farm, North Yarmouth, 3/31.
  • 1 Osprey (FOY), Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 4/1.

The weather is looking good for Saturday night for our annual “Woodcocks Gone Wild” evening.  If there’s any uncertainty about when the forecast winds will diminish, be sure to check the News Page of our website. More information about the tour, and last year’s trip report, can be found here.

The Right Whales of Race Point.

Over the weekend, Jeannette and I made a little escape to Cape Cod. I’ve been wanting to take this trip for many years, but our schedule rarely allows it. But thanks to Jeanne and Haley holding down the fort at the store, and the return of Zane to the hawkwatch, we felt we could make a run for it.

While Cape Cod is always great for birding, especially Race Point, from late winter into the middle of spring Race Point is even more famous for its whale-watching. From land. Of one of the rarest animals on the planet: the North Atlantic Right Whale.

While much to most of the world’s diminishing population arrives in Cape Cod Bay in February, the best time to see the whales is in late March and April of most years (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) when they frequent the waters immediately off of the very tip of Cape Cod. Here, a narrow and deep channel come in close proximity to land and its shallow shores, providing a rich area of upwelling and unrivaled proximity to rich feeding areas for whales and birds.

For some background reading on the phenomenon, you can start with this article from last spring from the NOAA Fisheries.

We arrived Friday afternoon and decided to get the lay of the land. I haven’t been to Race Point in over 20 years – sadly – and Jeannette had never been here, despite growing up a short ferry ride away. While we didn’t see any whales this afternoon in a brief visit, we got to know the viewing spot, a little of the strategy from another visiting couple, and got to spend some time with the birds. It’s really extraordinary how much birdlife is at this place!

100’s of Red-throated Loons, at least a dozen Iceland Gulls, Razorbills, a couple of newly-arrived Piping Plovers, and a local avian specialty – Pacific Loon!  Arguably the best place in the Atlantic to see this – yes, you guess it- Pacific species, we found one fairly close to shore with a minimum amount of effort. This photo was the best that Jeannette can do, and while my phone-scoped photos are marginally better (or at least, more diagnostic, WordPress is being stupid with its photos uploading right now and I have given up!)

But with perfect afternoon light, Jeannette did much better with the “real” photography.

Red-throated Loon
1st winter Iceland and Glaucous Gulls with a Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gulls of several ages.
Piping Plover

We were back early on Saturday morning, ready for the 1.5-2-mile slog over fairly soft sand.  We would have been to the point much sooner were it not for all of the birds along the way once again. And the soft sand.

Our pace quickened markedly when we saw a North Atlantic Right Whale in the distance. Well, distant to us. It was clearly right off the point! We also spotted a Minke Whale moderately close to shore just as our walk began. We were getting excited now.

In position at the point by about 8:20 – after reassurances from the local expert – we began to wait. Flocks of Common Eiders were moving out of the bay, as were many of the dozens of Northern Gannets.   A Northern Harrier did not even hesitate to head straight offshore, its bearings set for landfall in Nova Scotia.

Red-throated Loon
Common Eiders
White-winged Scoter

And then there were the Razorbills!  Singles, handfuls, small flocks; a steady stream heading out of Cape Cod Bay.  I tallied 356 when not distracted by other things.

Like Right Whales. Close to shore. Like right there Right Whales. In the surf of the rips just off the point.  First there was one who showed its fluke to announce its presence and departure. The next one (or the same that had circled around) was spotted off in the distance to the west, first by it’s v-shaped blow. It slowly but steadily came closer, feeding with shallow dives as it passed in front of us. Then, completely catching all of the photographers off-guard, a breach! Like right there. Right in front of us. It was absolutely breathtaking.

About when we realized it was almost noon and we forgot to pack snacks, two whales appeared in the rips nearby. We forgot about being hungry as we watched them feed for almost 45 minutes!  We also forgot to continue to click Razorbills. But that’s OK.


I don’t know what to say. It was a moving experience. We were so close to something so special, so rare, and whose continued existence is so precarious. At least one tear escaped my ducts. It was amazing. I am so glad we finally did this.

The adrenaline and satisfaction, as well as the reflection of it all, powered us back to the car, passing another Glaucous Gull with more Iceland Gulls, another or the same Minke Whale, and just as we reached the parking lot, one more North Atlantic Right Whale fluke in the distance for good measure.

Ist Winter Iceland Gull
Ipswich” Savannah Sparrow

We did some casual birding and tourist-ing for the rest of the afternoon. The perfect weather of the day  – light winds, fairly warm (we were most enthused about being overdressed!), gave way to some rain with an approaching cold front.  

Said front made for a much cooler and windier morning on Sunday. We decided to forgo another trek to the point – with much reservation and consternation – and try our luck at Herring Cove after a leisurely breakfast. We were on vacation afterall, no matter how mini.

There weren’t nearly as many birds here as the day before, so we went back to Race Point.  A series of blows from a North Atlantic Right Whale from the beach just beyond the parking lot made us ponder sucking it up and taking another walk, but the fact that we couldn’t see the massive animal at all because of the surf made us think twice. Again.

Our experience on Saturday – including the delightful weather – was something to savor and remember. We didn’t need a sand-blasted facial to sour our experience. So begrudgingly, we departed, working our way towards Providence for the night, to indulge in some Rhode Island birding and way too much divine Italian food. Seriously the spaghettoni alla carbonara at Ristorante Il Massimo might have been almost as memorable as the whales. Almost.

We’ll be back for the pasta. The question is, how much longer will we be able to see North Atlantic Right Whales?  With less than 340 remaining on Earth, this is a trip we could no longer delay. And nor should you.

This Week’s Highlights, March 19-24, 2022.

My personal highlights over the past six were as follows. Not surprisingly, it was mostly first-of-year new arrivals. The new bird for my Bradbury Mountain list, however, was definitely more of a surprise!

  • 3 male and 1 female NORTHERN SHOVELERS (FOY), 100+ Greater and 10+ Lesser Scaup, 1 drake American Wigeon, 1 Bonaparte’s Gull (FOY), etc, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 3/19 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 4 Horned Larks and 1 American Wigeon, Highland Road, Brunswick, 3/19 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 2 Eastern Meadowlarks (FOY) and 5 Brown-headed Cowbirds (FOY), Chesley Hill Road, Durham, 3/20.
  • 1 Great Blue Heron (FOS), Cousin’s River Marsh, 3/20.
  • 4 American Kestrels (FOY), Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 3/20.
  • 1 adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, fly-by at the Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 3/20 (with Zane Baker). This was my 142nd all-time Bradbury Mountain State Park species!
  • 20 Ring-necked Ducks (FOY), 2 American Wigeon, etc, Mouth of the Abagadasset River, Bowdoinham, 3/21 (with Jeannette).
  • 6 Fish Crows (FOY), Maine Mall Road, 3/22.
  • 6 Brant, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 3/22.
  • 7+ American Woodcocks, Pownal, 3/23 (with Jeannette).

And in case you missed it, I was one of the guests on Thursday’s Maine Calling, talking about spring migration, bird feeding, and bird health. You can listen to the replay of the episode here.

And finally, our spring tour season gets kicked off next Saturday with our annual “Woodcocks Gone Wild!” See the Tours page of our website for more info.

This Week’s Highlights, March 12-18, 2022.

The 16th Annual Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch got off to a great – and mild – start this week. Not surprisingly, most of my birding time this week was spent on the mountain. For more information about the project, visit: https://www.freeportwildbirdsupply.com/post/the-bradbury-mountain-spring-hawkwatch-gets-underway-tuesday-3-15

My personal highlights over the past seven days were as follows, mostly new spring arrivals as expected for the middle of March:

  • 1 pair American Wigeon, Thornhurst Farm, North Yarmouth, 3/12 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 pair Northern Pintail, Riverbank Park, Westbrook, 3/14 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 NORTHERN GOSHAWK (FOY) and 4 Red-shouldered Hawks (FOY), Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch, 3/15.
  • 1 Fox Sparrow (FOY) and 1 Northern Flicker (FOS), Bradbury-Pinelands Corridor Trail, Pownal, 3/18.