Tag Archives: “Birds

This Week’s Highlights: December 31, 2022 to January 2, 2023.

It took over a month, but I finally made time to look for the Townsend’s Solitaire in Wells on the 2nd. Quality time with it was a worthy consolation for just missing the Northern Lapwing in Arundel that departed this morning.

A few observations of note over the past three days before we head off on vacation included the following:

  • 1 drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE (first of season locally) and 19 DUNLIN, Winslow Park, Freeport, 12/31 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 40 continuing American Coots, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, 14 Lesser Scaup, 10 Greater Scaup, etc, Chickawaukie Pond, Rockland (with Paul Dioron, Kristen Lindquist, and Jeannette).
  • 1 continuing Killdeer, Arundel Road, Kennebunkport, 1/2. I missed the Northern Lapwing by 28 minutes.
  • 1 continuing TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm, 1/2. After about 45 minutes, heard calling from marsh edge north of viewing platform on Laird-Norton Trail. Called as Eastern Bluebirds arrived, often chasing or at least following them. Followed them right through viewing platform and alighted in small tree only about 30 feet away. Unfortunately, it was backlit for photos, but great look. Vocal and conspicuous for 15-20 minutes until bluebirds flew out across marsh. Photo above.
  • And as the calendar changes, it’s time for my annual Predictions Blog where I attempt to forecast the next 25 birds to occur in Maine, and for my own list:

This Week’s Highlights: December 17-23, 2022

This snazzy, fresh adult male Red-winged Blackbird at a feeder in Wells was one of the few highlights in my usually-very-productive “Moody Sector” of the Southern York County CBC.

T’was the week before Christmas and all through Wild Bird Supply, no one was birding much, even this guy.  Nonetheless, I found some great birds when I did get out this week:

  • 1 incredibly late NELSON’S SPARROW, 1 Savannah Sparrow, 1 Northern Flicker, 4 Snow Buntings, etc, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 12/18.  I was unaware that the Portland CBC was being conducted that day, but apparently, the Nelson’s was a first count record! 
  • 1 THICK-BILLED MURRE (FOS), Pine Point, Scarborough, 12/18. Not in great shape; I first saw it on land fighting off a crow on land before eventually waddling into the water.
  • 20-21 continuing AMERICAN COOTS, 2 female GADWALL, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, 1 pair American Wigeon, 1 drake Northern Pintail, etc, Grondin Pond, Scarborough, 12/18.
  • “Moody Sector” of the Southern York County CBC, 12/19: 1538 individuals of 52 species (both quite low for me) with highlights including 4 American Wigeon (very surprisingly only a second count record!), 1 male Red-winged Blackbird, 2 Northern Harrier, and 18 Horned Larks.
  • 1 Great Blue Heron (late for inland) and 1 1st-winted Iceland Gull, Auburn Riverwalk, 12/22.
  • 1 SAGE THRASHER, Gilsland Farm, Falmouth, 12/22. 2nd State Record found earlier in the morning by Doug Hitchcox. I eventually had fantastic looks at it, including in flight, but I was on the wrong side of its favored tree for photographs, so this was the “best” I did!
  • Meanwhile, left off my weekly updates for the past four weeks has been my regular observation of one particular rarity right here in Freeport – Maine’s first ever Broad-tailed Hummingbird!  Here’s the full story.

New Brunswick – PEI Roadtrip Bird Photo Journal, 8/2022.

Jeannette and I enjoyed a summer roadtrip to the Atlantic Provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island from August 15th through 23rd. Shorebirds were our birding focus, because August, but our expectations were far surpassed! Here are a few photo highlights from the journey.

We began our roadtrip in Bangor, where we could not resist some quality time with an unusually-confiding family group of Least Bitterns that has been hanging out in Essex Marsh.
We then drove straight to Johnson’s Mills, New Brunswick, near the head of the Bay of Fundy.
Here, at and nearby the Shorebird Interpretive Center, nearly half of the world’s population of Semipalmated Sandpipers passes through. After a day count of 100,000 a couple of days before we arrived, we had to settle for a tally of about 60,000. It was awesome (in the literal sense of the word).
I wrote about this special place and how everyone needs to visit in a blog back in 2017 that can be read here.
Staying in the delightful town of Sackville, we made multiple visits to the downtown Waterfowl Park. Copious amounts of dabbling ducks breed and stage here.
. Here are a couple of Gadwall.
Good numbers of American Wigeon are also present.
But of course you’re really here at this time of year for the shorebirds, so on the next day, we were right back to Johnson’s Mills for the incoming tide.
. Here’s a Semipalmated Sandpiper pool party.
So. Many. Shorebirds.

It’s hard for still photos to do the scene true justice however, so we posted a few videos to our store’s Facebook Page. They can be viewed here.

As per tradition in this blog, a photo of our meal of the trip! This was our “lifer” Kurdish food from Fener’s Place in Sackville. Since we have not had this cuisine before, it notched out the win from several great meals in Charlottetown and elsewhere throughout the tour.
Then it was off to Prince Edward Island, our primary destination of the trip. Our first stop was Brackley Marsh, but rain caught up with us and it was absolutely pouring. Birding was not easy, although we found two good birds: Long-billed Dowitcher and “Western” Willet.
However, it took us until the next morning to find what we were looking for
… this Gray Heron! A vagrant from Europe, this is the first we have seen in North America. With this trip cancelled for the last two years due to the closed border, it was serendipitous for it to show up when we could finally make it. A big thanks to our friend Dwaine for rising early and pinning it down for us!
We were amazed by the number of Great Blue Herons all over the island, too, such as this group near
Savage Harbor.
Dwaine showed us around, and after lunch, we birded Borden-Carlton
…where we returned the favor by finding this very rare for the island Black Tern at Borden Beach.
Standing next to Bonaparte’s Gulls and Semipalmated Sandpipers, you can see how tiny this marsh tern is.
Jeannette was put in charge of documenting it thoroughly!
We spent the next day vehicle-free in Charlottetown, starting with morning birding at Victoria Park, where we quickly tallied a dozen species of warblers in scattered mixed-species foraging flocks.
After Charlottetown, we relocated to Goose River and the next morning began with sewatching at East Point. There, we found another mid-summer rarity in a first-summer male Harlequin Duck. Unfortunately, it was too distant for photos.
Later, however, at Rollo Bay, we had plenty of opportunities for close shorebird photography, including ample numbers of Black-bellied Plovers.
And Semipalmated Plovers.
Common Tern fledgling following an adult. Six Red Knots were among the highlights here.
On our last morning in PEI, we once again began at East Point, where we enjoyed 3 Pomarine Jaegers chasing Northern Gannets, a few more Razorbills, and a Mourning Warbler along the road.
Then, as our last stop before crossing the bridge, it was back to Borden-Carlton Beach.
We just could not get enough of the shorebirds here, and photographing them against the island’s red sand really makes them – especially these Sanderlings – pop!
Sanderlings and White-rumped Sandpiper.
We just could not get over, nor stop enjoying, the plethora of White-rumped Sandpipers that stage and pass through the island. We had counts of over 200 in some places, and in some beaches and salt pannes, it was the most abundant shorebird. Here at Borden Beach, we took some more time to marvel at it.
Shorebirds tracks and probes.
And photograph some more Semipalmated Sandpipers…bringing our trip full-circle
before beginning the trek home.

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

While small numbers of juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPERS can be found in Maine in late summer and early fall, we rarely see adults. Therefore, this was an exciting find at Hill’s Beach in Biddeford
on the incoming tide on the 22nd.

Another dandy week of summertime birding produced the following highlights for me. Shorebird numbers and diversity are growing rapidly now.

  • 1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Old Town House Park, North Yarmouth, 7/16 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group; few around locally this summer). One calling in our Pownal yard on 7/22.
  • 2 continuing HENSLOW’S SPARROWS, Crystal Spring Farm, Brunswick, 7/20.  Both birds singing, but the west bird continued long past the east bird went silent. I spent my time this morning attempting to observe the east bird, but never saw it once it stopped singing about 5 minutes after I arrived.
  • 1 Fish Crow, Point Sebago (Private; with Point Sebago Birdwalk group) and 1 at Sebago Lake State Park, 7/21 (still wondering if these are from the Windham colony or not).

Shorebird high counts this week (see last week’s post for an explanation):

  • Black-bellied Plover: 4, Pine Point, Scarborough, 7/22.
  • Killdeer:  22, Crystal Spring Farm, Brunswick, 7/20.
  • Semipalmated Plover: 10, Hill’s Beach, Biddeford, 7/22.
  • Piping Plover: 1 adult with 2 nearly-fledged juveniles that are somehow close to making it on Pine Point Beach, Scarborough, 7/22.
  • Whimbrel (FOF): 5, Pine Point, 7/22.
  • Ruddy Turnstone: 1, Eastern Egg Rock, 7/16 (with Hardy Boat Evening Puffin Cruise group).
  • Sanderling: 18, Hill’s Beach, 7/22.
  • Least Sandpiper: 31, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 7/22.
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper: 140, Pine Point, 7/22.
  • WESTERN SANDPIPER: 1 rare adult, Hill’s Beach, Biddeford, 7/22 (photo above).
  • Short-billed Dowitcher: 165, The Pool, Biddeford Pool, 7/22.
  • Spotted Sandpiper: 2, Eastern Egg Rock, 7/16 (with Hardy Boat Evening Puffin Cruise group) and Sebago Lake State Park, 7/21.
  • Solitary Sandpiper (FOF): 1, Old Town House Park, North Yarmouth, 7/16 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group) and 1, Eastern Road Trail, 7/22.
  • Lesser Yellowlegs: 53, Eastern Road Trail, 7/22.
  • “Eastern” Willet: 96, The Pool, 7/22.
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 10, Eastern Road Trail, 7/22.

Beat the heat tomorrow, Saturday, July 23rd with a boat trip to Seal Island. No “Troppy” this year, but you know we’ll be looking hard for the Tufted Puffin! A limited amount of space on this extended charter is available.

This Piping Plover is one of two siblings that have somehow survived on the jam-packed Pine Point Beach. Often exercising their wings on the 22nd, they are probably just a
few days away from being able to fly away from crowds.

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, 2/26-3/4, 2022

There are few better places to photograph Wood Ducks in Maine than Abbott’s Pond (aka the “York Duck Pond”) in York. A quick stop here on Friday with clients visiting from Texas afforded some great photo ops!

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 first-winter Glaucous Gull, Winslow Park, Freeport, 2/26 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk Group).
  • 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).
  • 4 Brant, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 3/3 (with clients from Texas).
  • 3 Green-winged Teal, Bayshore Road, Falmouth, 3/3 (with clients from Texas).
  • 1 first-winter Iceland Gull, Winslow Park, 3/3 (with clients from Texas).
  • 25 Horned Larks, 1 pair American Wigeon, 1 pair Northern Pintails, etc, The Pool, Biddeford Pool, 3/4 (with clients from Texas).
  • 1 continuing PACIFIC LOON, The Cliff House, York (with clients from Texas).
  • 1 continuing pair Wood Ducks and 1 female Green-winged Teal, Abbott’s Pond, York, (with clients from Texas). Photo above.

This Week’s Highlights, 1/22-28, 2022

While we didn’t see the Steller’s Sea-Eagle in two full days of searching this week, we did enjoy some great birds and photo ops during our search. I spotted this Barred Owl alongside a road on Southport Island as it emerged from a roosting cavity in the late afternoon on the 25th and Jeannette got some photos out the car window.

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 continuing adult female BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, Bernard Lown Peace Bridge, Auburn, 1/23.
  • 2 first-winter Iceland Gulls, Auburn Riverwalk, 1/23.
  • 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.

Another good photo op while not seeing a sea-eagle was this cooperative Black Guillemot having lunch off the Maine State Aquarium on 1/25. Can anyone identify the fish?

Additional Highlights This Week, 10/16-22

Here’s the world’s worst photo of the Orange-crowned Warbler that appeared at Sandy Point on Tuesday. I drew an outline around it to (maybe) help you find it. It was my 8th ever here.

My non-Sandy Point observations of note over the past seven days included:

  • ~60 American Pipits, Mayall Road, Gray/New Gloucester, 10/16 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • Sabattus Pond, Sabattus, 10/19 (with Jeannette). Choppy water made a thorough count challenging.

360+ Ruddy Ducks

173+ mixed Greater and Lesser Scaup

31 Mallards

15 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS

3 Buffleheads

2 Common Loons

  • 1 Nashville Warbler, 4 Red-throated Loons (FOF), etc, Peak’s Island, 10/22 (with Dan Nickerson).