Tag Archives: Black-bellied Plover

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 in Shorebirds: 8/22-28/2015

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Two juvenile Baird’s Sandpipers at Popham Beach State Park on Friday morning, “rare-but-regular” fall migrants.

August is for shorebirds. Although the “fall” southbound migration started in late June (when the first non-breeders begin to turn around to mosey back south) and continues into November when Purple Sandpipers are still filling in, August is the month of peak numbers and diversity in Maine.
Most weeks from mid-July into September of recent years, I post a weekly “shorebird high counts this week” summary to my weekly “Additional Highlights This Week” summary posts to the Maine-birds listserve. While I do hope this is interesting and of value to folks, I also do it to organize my own notes, allowing me to quickly reference the peaks and valleys of particular species with ease should I need to.

I generally only post this when I have hit at least two “primary” and at least one “secondary” site each week, to make the numbers meaningful. And I prefer at least one prime high tide location (Eastern Road Trail in Scarborough Marsh, Biddeford Pool Beach/Ocean Avenue, or Popham Beach State Park in some years) with one low or mid-tide hotspot (Pine Point, Hill’s Beach/The Pool, or Popham and nearby environs).

This week was a particularly productive week for my own shorebirding, so this week’s summary is a helpful future reference for me. I also thought it was worth going into a little more detail, since it yielded a goodly 21 species (plus one subspecies) and some excellent totals.

The inclement weather of the weekend into the middle of the week (regular rain, lots of fog, easterly or southerly winds) was perfecting for “grounding” shorebirds and allowing numbers to build. I think my only surprise was my lack of a real rarity – like Western Sandpiper (although I worked pretty hard for one!)

I hit the low-tide hotspot of Pine Point on Monday with Jeannette, followed by the Eastern Road Trail at high tide later that afternoon. Jeannette and I spent the incoming to high tide at Biddeford Pool Beach on Tuesday, and on Friday, Serena Doose and I visited Popham on the incoming to high tide. Additionally, Jeannette and I checked one of the “secondary” sites, Brunswick’s Wharton Point on Tuesday and on Thursday I visited Wells Harbor before the evening’s Scott Weidensaul talk that we co-sponsored with Birds and Beans coffee and York County Audubon.

It’s always good to hit a freshwater location for diversity and high counts of pond-preferring-migrants, so when my Poplar Hut Tour Group with Maine Huts & Trails visited the Carrabassett Valley Snowfluent Ponds on Sunday, my high counts of Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers were acquired, along with my only Wilson’s Snipe of the week.

And, as if often the case during the peak of shorebird migration, there is some other “incidental sighting” of a migrant in some weird place – but not as weird as the Whimbrel (my only of the week) foraging at 4,200 feet atop Sugarloaf Mountain that Paul Doiron, Kristen Lindquist, and I observed on Sunday afternoon. While I knew they forage on mossberry during migration, such as in the bogs Downeast, I was most definitely not expecting one up here!

Therefore, with a total of 7 shorebirding locations – plus that mountaintop Whimbrel! – “this week’s shorebird high counts” scoreboard looks like this:

AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER: 1 ad, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
Black-bellied Plover: 160, Pine Point, Scarborough, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
Semipalmated Plover: 350, Pine Point, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
Killdeer: 3, Pine Point, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER: 5, Pine Point, 8/11 (with Jeannette).
Greater Yellowlegs: 12, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 8/25 (with Jeannette).
Lesser Yellowlegs: 38, Eastern Road Trail, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
“Eastern” Willet: 8 juvs, Pine Point, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
“WESTERN” WILLET: 1 juv. (FOY), Pine Point, 8/24 (with Fyn Kind, Gary Roberts, and Jeannette).
Solitary Sandpiper: 4, Carrabassett Valley Snowfluent Ponds, 8/23 (with Poplar Hut Tour group).
Spotted Sandpiper: 5, Carrabassett Valley Snowfluent Ponds, 8/23 (with Poplar Hut Tour group).
Whimbrel: 8, Wells Harbor, 8/27.
Ruddy Turnstone: 8, Pine Point, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
Sanderling: 40, Biddeford Pool Beach, 8/25 (with Jeannette).
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1000, Biddeford Pool Beach, 8/25 (with Jeannette)..
Least Sandpiper: 75 mostly juv, Eastern Road Trail, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
White-rumped Sandpiper: 80-100 adults, Eastern Road Trail, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
BAIRD’S SANDPIPER: 2 juveniles, Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg, 8/28 (with Serena Doose).
Pectoral Sandpiper: 6, Pine Point, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
STILT SANDPIPER: 4 ads, Eastern Road Trail, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
Short-billed Dowitcher: 19 juveniles, Pine Point, 8/24 (with Jeannette).
Wilson’s Snipe: 1, Carrabassett Valley Snowfluent Ponds, 8/23 (with Poplar Hut Tour group).

Furthermore, writing this blog gives me a chance to show off some of Jeannette’s photography! These are just a few of the shots she got during our visit to Scarborough on Monday.
IMG_2024_edited-2Adult Black-bellied Plover, Pine Point, 8/24.

IMG_2069_edited-2Juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher, Pine Point, 8/24.

IMG_2092_edited-2Adult Semipalmated Plover, Pine Point, 8/24.

IMG_2148_edited-2Adult and juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers with one juvenile Semipalmated Plover, Pine Point, 8/24.

IMG_2256_edited-2Adult Pectoral Sandpiper and juvenile Least Sandpiper, Eastern Road Trail, 8/24.

IMG_2295_edited-2Adult White-rumped Sandpiper, Eastern Road Trail, 8/24.

IMG_2331_edited-2Semipalmated Sandpipers with one adult Semipalmated Plover and one adult Sanderling, Biddeford Pool Beach, 8/25.

Jeannette in Marsh_edited-1

Of course, it’s not just shorebirds that are on the move – there are plenty of passerines as well! A migrant Wilson’s Warbler and a whopping 14 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were at Old Town House Park on Saturday morning when I visited it with my Saturday Morning Birdwalk group. My tour group to the Poplar Hut encountered mixed-species foraging flocks as we hiked to and from the hut, highlighted by an immature female Cape May Warbler in a little wave around the hut itself on Sunday morning.
Poplar Falls_edited-1

Other highlights this week included 14 Wood Ducks and a bumper crop of juvenile Common Yellowthroats at Florida Lake Park (8/24), the whiter of the two Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret hybrids (“Splotchy”) in the Rte 1/9 salt pannes in Scarborough Marsh with Jeannette on the same day and a drake White-winged Scoter off of Biddeford Pool Beach on 8/25.

While a diversity of shorebirds will continue for several more weeks (and there’s a better chance for Western, Baird’s, and Buff-breasted Sandpipers), I tend to spend less time focusing on them (and therefore not enough time at enough prime locations over the course of the week), and therefore only occasionally post summary totals. In fact, if the much-reduced numbers at Popham today are any indication, a lot of shorebirds departed with the passage of this recent cold front.

Instead, I spend most of my free mornings now at “my office,” the bridge at Sandy Point Beach, Cousin’s Island, Yarmouth, observing and obsessively counting migrant passerines in the “Morning Flight.” In fact, my first visit of the season there on Thursday morning yielded 438 migrants, including 17 species of warblers, 1 early Dickcissel, 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (my 3rd-ever here), and 5 Prairie Warblers – my 2nd highest count.

(Much) more on that soon.