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.
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Birding "Away" and tagged "Birds, American Wigeon, Bangor, Birding, Black Tern, Black-bellied Plover, Common Tern, Essex Marsh, Gadwall, Gray Heron, Great Blue Heron, Johnson's Mills, Least Bittern, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Sackville, Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, shorebirds, White-rumped Sandpipers on . August 27, 2022
This Black Tern (far right, with Roseate Terns) has been slowly molting out of breeding plumage since it arrived at Pine Point back on July 2 nd. It was still present in the morning of August 5 th.
It’s August, so as usual, shorebirds were the focus. Here are my observations of note over the past seven days.
1 Surf Scoter, off Sisters Island, Casco Bay, 7/31 (with Birds of Casco Bay Tour group).
1 Fish Crow continues, Point Sebago Resort (private), 8/4 (with Point Sebago Birdwalk group).
1 Red Crossbill, our yard in Pownal, 8/5.
1 continuing molting adult BLACK TERN, Pine Point, Scarborough, 8/5.
Shorebird high counts this week:
Black-bellied Plover: 39, Pine Point, Scarborough, 8/5. Killdeer: 24, Mayall Rd, Gray/New Gloucester, 8/4. Semipalmated Plover: 389, Pine Point, 8/5. Piping Plover: 14, Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg, 8/2. Whimbrel: 3, Pine Point, 8/5. Ruddy Turnstone: 2, Pine Point, 8/5. Sanderling: 16, Popham Beach State Park, 8/2. Least Sandpiper: 65+, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 8/5. White-rumped Sandpiper: 9, Eastern Road Trail, 8/5. Pectoral Sandpiper: 1-2, Eastern Road Trail, 8/5. Semipalmated Sandpiper: 240+, Popham Beach State Park, 8/2. Short-billed Dowitcher: 13, Pine Point, 8/5. Spotted Sandpiper: 2, Sebago Lake State Park, 8/4. Lesser Yellowlegs: 26, Rte 1/9 salt pannes south, Scarborough Marsh, 8/5. “Eastern” Willet: 14, Pine Point, 8/5. Greater Yellowlegs: 9, Eastern Road Trail, 8/5.
This Henslow’s Sparrow was a new “Maine Bird” for me – and virtually everyone who saw it during its stay Brunswick from 7/5 through week’s end. Details below.
So much for the mythological “summer birding doldrums.” They never really existed, but between climate change, land use changes, and better birding communication, they certainly don’t exist now. Several rarities headlined the week, along with the first wave of southbound (fall!) shorebird migration. My highlights of note over the past seven days included the following:
1 adult Black Tern, Pine Point, Scarborough, 7/2 (early migrant/post- or failed-breeding dispersal. With client from North Carolina). N. Gibb had two that afternoon, and one bird continued through 7/8 (with Buffalo Ornithological Society)
“Fall” migration is definitely underway, with the vanguard of southbound shorebirds now arriving. A good diversity for the date in Scarborough Marsh on 7/2 included 9 Black-bellied Plovers, 7 Greater Yellowlegs, 3 Short-billed Dowitchers (first of fall), and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs (FOF). (With client from North Carolina).
1 HENSLOW’S SPARROW, Crystal Springs Farm at intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Casco/Church St, Brunswick, 7/6. Found on 7/5 by Gordon Smith. Observed from 6:25am through 8:15am, singing nearly constantly. Video (better than the photo above) at: https://fb.watch/e5wtcTjSrV/
4-5 Red Crossbills and 4 Short-billed Dowitchers, Reid State Park, Georgetown, 7/7.
1 continuing BLACK-NECKED STILT, salt pannes on north end of Scarborough Marsh from US Rte 1, Scarborough, 7/8 (with Buffalo Ornithological Society).
1 continuing proposed TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET hybrid, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 7/8 (with Buffalo Ornithological Society). *Hybrid combo as proposed in: Lovitch, Derek J. 2022. Photo Salon: Hybrid Herons of Maine. North American Birds 72 (2): 28-40.
Migrant shorebird migrant totals from Scarborough Marsh on 7/8 (with Buffalo Ornithological Society): 100+ Least Sandpipers, 19 Short-billed Dowitchers, 8 Lesser Yellowlegs, 4 Greater Yellowlegs, and 4 Black-bellied Plovers.
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Birding in Maine, Week Reports and tagged Birding, birds, Black Tern, Black-necked Stilt, Brunswick, Crystal Spring Farm, Henslow's Sparrow, Pine Point, Scarborough, Scarborough Marsh, Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret x Little Egret hybrid on . July 8, 2022
In an article to be published this fall in the journal North American Birds, I propose this bird as a Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret hybrid backcrossed with a Little Egret (TRHE x SNEG x LIEG). This individual has been present since 2014 and seems to visit marshes between Hampton, NH and Cape Elizabeth. Note the two long neck plumes and the greenish lores.
My highlights over the past seven days included the following:
58 White-winged Scoters, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/15. 15 species of warblers led by 25+ Yellow-rumped and an incredible 15+ Cape May Warblers, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group). 12-15 Red Crossbills and 1 Evening Grosbeak, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group). 17 species of warblers, led by 17 Common Yellowthroats and 9 Ovenbirds, Florida Lake Park, 5/17 (with Jeannette). 1 Louisiana Waterthrush, Elmwood Trail, Pownal, 5/19. 16 species of warblers led by 23 Common Yellowthroats and 8 Ovenbirds, Florida Lake Park, 5/20. 1 continuing SNOWY OWL, Pennell Way, Brunswick, 5/21. Proposed TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET HYBRID, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 5/21. See caption above. 2 drake and 1 hen NORTHERN SHOVELER, Eastern Road Trail, 5/21. 3 continuing TRICOLORED HERONS and 1 drake NORTHERN SHOVELER, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 5/21.
My personal first-of-years and new spring arrivals included the following mix of on-time and early arrivals plus “catching up” on coastal birds:
1 BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (early!), Old Town House Park, North Yarmouth, 5/15 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group). 2 Scarlet Tanagers, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group). 1 Green Heron, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group). 1 Red-eyed Vireo, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group). 1 White-crowned Sparrow, feeders here at the store, 5/16. 2 Laughing Gulls, Wolfe’s Neck Center, Freeport, 5/17 (with Jeannette). 1 Indigo Bunting (late), Wolfe’s Neck Center, Freeport, 5/17 (with Jeannette). 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/18 (with Jeannette). 1 Common Nighthawk (early), our yard in Pownal, 5/19. 1 Alder Flycatcher, Florida Lake Park, 5/20. 1 Bay-breasted Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/20. 3 Common Terns, Simpson’s Point, Brunswick, 5/20. 1 GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, our yard in Pownal, 5/21. 16 Saltmarsh Sparrows, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 5/21. 3 Nelson’s Sparrows, Eastern Road Trail, 5/21. 32 Short-billed Dowitchers, Pine Point, Scarborough, 5/21. 50+ Ruddy Turnstones, Pine Point, 5/21. 10+ Roseate Terns, Pine Point, 5/21. 1 BLACK TERN – always a treat to catch one in migration – Pine Point, 5/21.
This Saltmarsh Sparrow posed for a quick photo this morning along the Eastern Road Trail. My first of the year were today, although at least a few have likely been present for a week to 10 days in and around Scarborough Marsh.
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Birding in Maine, Week Reports and tagged Birding, birds, Black Tern, Brunswick, Eastern Road Trail, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Maine, Northern Shoveler, Pennell Way, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Scarborough Marsh, Snowy Owl, Tricolored Heron, Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret hybrid, Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret x Little Egret hybrid on . May 21, 2021