My highlights over the past seven days included the following:
1 Red Crossbill, Runaround Pond, Durham, 4/3.
1 drake “EURASIAN” GREEN-WINGED TEAL, Mouth of the Abagadasset River, Bowdoinham, 4/4 (with Jeannette).
3 Red Crossbill, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 4/8.
1 probable WHITE-FACED IBIS (as previously reported; FOY), Rte 1/9 Salt Pannes, Scarborough MarSh, 4/9. However, it did not have particular bright bare parts or “face,” so it is either not yet in high breeding, or it could be a hybrid. My views were just a little too insufficient to be 100% sure.
And my personal first-of-years and new spring arrivals included (obviously I had not been to Scarborough Marsh in a while!):
With the Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch underway, not surprisingly, just about all of my time was spent up there, getting our new counter up to speed and prepared for the flights to come. My observations of note over the past seven days included:
Good pulse of American Robins, Song Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Common Grackles into the area this week.
4 Fox Sparrows (FOY), our yard in Pownal, 3/14. At least 3 continued through week’s end.
2 Red-shouldered Hawks (FOS), Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch, 3/16.
2 Wood Ducks (FOY), Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch, 3/16.
3 Fox Sparrows, Runaround Pond Recreation Area, Durham, 3/18.
This Week in Finches. I guess the “return flight” of most species moved northward to our west so far.
Red Crossbill: 1, Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch, 3/16.
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).
1 continuing RUDDY DUCK, 11 Lesser and 6 Greater Scaup (in close small group in flight) and 250+ distant scaup. I am sure the ratio of species in that close group of 17 does not reflect the makeup of the large group which will be mostly (at least) Greater. Simpson’s Point, Brunswick, 1/25.
8 Lesser Scaup, Fort Point State Park, 1/11 (with Evan Obercian).
1 American Kestrel, Upper Street, Turner, 1/12 (with Jeannette).
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pond Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 1/15. Declining in Maine as a wintering species, there are even fewer this year due to the failure of the Northern Bayberry crop.
1 Northern Flicker, Village Crossings/Cape Elizabeth Greenbelt Trail, 1/15.
This Week in Finches. A query on our store’s Facebook page suggested there is another wave of redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks arriving in yards, and more siskins, etc, still widely scattered here and there. But for me:
EVENING GROSBEAK: 0
Red Crossbill: ~20 (Merrill Road, Pownal, 1/9, with Beth Edmonds and Dan Nickerson).
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL: 0
PINE GROSBEAK: 14 (here at the store, 1/9); 4 (Woodside Road, Brunswick, 1/10); 5 (Route 1, Wiscasset, 1/11); 9 (Belfast City Park, 1/11 with Evan Obercian); 5 (Stockton Harbor, 1/11 with Evan Obercian); 15 (Cumberland Town Landing, 1/13); 1 (Eastern Promendade, Portland, 1/15).
Purple Finch: 0
Common Redpoll High Count This Week: 0
Pine Siskin High Count This Week: 1 (Belfast, 1/11, with Evan Obercian).
It’s once again time for my annual Predictions Blog, where I view into my crystal binoculars and attempt to forecast some of the “new” birds to grace the State of Maine – and then my own personal state list – in the coming year.
2020 was definitely a different year. “Worst year ever” was a common refrain by year’s end, but don’t tell that to 2021 which seems to be taking up the challenge so far. I’ve written this blog for over a decade now, but this was the first one written about, and during, a national crisis that was so deadly that many birders stayed home for much of the year. Before spring had arrived in Maine and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic had fully arrived in Maine, trips were cancelled, many folks stayed closer to home if venturing out at all, and many birders avoided crowded seasonal hotspots. I wrote about birding in a pandemic in this early spring blog, but a small silver lining to this tragedy was the huge growth in birding, especially in the backyard. I was even interviewed about this in the New York Times this summer.
By fall, the growth in birding and bird-feeding and the new online community connections made while stuck at home yielded even more opportunities to see amazing birds and add some really spectacular rarities to brand-new life lists. A massive incursion of birds from the western US was underway throughout the East this fall, and this resulted in some of the most incredible “mega” rarities, such as Rock Wren and Bullock’s Oriole. The first chaseable Rufous Hummingbird in many years was another real crowd-pleaser and was made accessible by gracious hosts.
Nonetheless, there were not any first state records detected this year. Therefore, my list of next 25 species to occur in Maine for 2021 remains unchanged:
Trumpeter Swan (of wild, “countable” origin)
Audubon’s Shearwater – on “hypothetical” list, but I think the record is good).
As usual, there were also a handful of potential state birds for me that I did not see. Common Ringed Plover (#12) on Seal Island in September and a Sooty Tern (Honorable Mention) on Matinicus Rock following Tropical Storm Isaias were obviously beyond my reach, obviously, a Franklin’s Gull (#5) in Lamoine on 11/5 did not linger, and a Yellow Rail (#22) was kept secret. The big miss however was the Golden-crowned Sparrow (Honorable Mention) in October at a feeder in Abbot that I just did not chase for a variety of reasons, including how busy the fall was at the store.
So a few tweaks to my list for my next additions to my personal state list are as follows:
American White Pelican
Common Ringed Plover
So let’s see what 2021 brings to the Maine birding world. A return to a sense of normalcy would be a nice start, however.
My observations of note over the past seven days included the following:
1 Hermit Thrush, several record high counts including White-breasted Nuthatch and Eastern Bluebird, Pine Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls, etc, Brunswick-Freeport CBC “West Freeport Sector,” 1/3 (with Jeannette). Full list and analysis here.
2 SNOWY OWLS, Biddeford, 1/5 (with Jeannette).
1 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and 5 Horned Larks, East Point, Biddeford Pool, 1/5 (with Jeannette).
1 1st winter Iceland Gull, Portland Harbor, 1/8.
This Week in Finches. Although finch numbers are greatly reduced now, I’ll continue to post this section if only to organize my own notes, track any mid-winter waves, and perhaps be ready for a northbound flight in the late winter and early spring.
EVENING GROSBEAK: 0
Red Crossbill: 0
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL: 0
PINE GROSBEAK: 8 Brunswick-Freeport CBC “West Freeport Sector,” 1/3 (with Jeannette); 2 (Memak Preserve, North Yarmouth, 1/7).
Purple Finch: 0
Common Redpoll High Count This Week: 3 singletons (Brunswick-Freeport CBC “West Freeport Sector,” 1/3; with Jeannette).
Pine Siskin High Count This Week: 2 (Webster Road, Freeport, Brunswick-Freeport CBC “West Freeport Sector,” 1/3; with Jeannette).