Tag Archives: Freeport

Maine’s 1st Broad-tailed Hummingbird in Freeport (Nov-Dec 2022).

In the afternoon of 11/19, a customer of the store alerted me to the presence of a hummingbird in her Freeport yard, present since the 5th of November. For over 15 years, we have promoted keeping hummingbird feeders up late into the fall and letting us know about any hummingbirds after October 1st.  In addition to several incredibly late reports of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (now annual in small numbers well into the second week of October), this campaign has resulted in the detection and documentation of a Selasphorous hummingbird on 10/16-17, 2015 in Yarmouth, and a long-staying Rufous Hummingbird observed by many between 10/18 and 12/5, 2020, also in Yarmouth – the first “chaseable” Rufous in eight years in the state.

Upon receiving the report, we urged the homeowner to get any sort of photo. Later that day the bird finally obliged, and the photos sent to us were suggestive of a Selasphorous hummingbird.  I was invited to the property the following day to attempt more documentation.  I arrived at 3:05pm with snow flurries falling, and soon heard the bird. The call was clearly of a Selasphorous-type hummingbird. My limited experience with separating Selasphorous by call did not permit me to draw any further conclusions (in hindsight though!)

Twenty minutes later, the bird appeared at the feeders, feeding long enough for photographs, before alighting on a nearby snag in a sliver of sunlight.  In the field, and upon review of photographs, I immediately knew it was a Selasphorous. Lucky photos of a semi-spread tail showed a fairly broad outer tail feather, but I assumed it was probably “just” a Rufous. Or at least I am not knowledgeable enough to have thought beyond Rufous/Allen’s (it was clearly not a Calliope).

I reached out to Scott Weidensaul with the first few photos, and since he was available the next day to band it, I made arrangements with the homeowner. Scott was intrigued by the tail, and stated “I cannot rule out Broad-tailed from the photos” but also assumed it was likely to be a Rufous. They usually are.

Scott, Doug Hitchcox, and I arrived at noon on 11/21 to attempt to band the bird. In less than an hour, we had safely trapped the bird, and took a series of measurements and photos. The bird was healthy, undergoing active molt, and had a fat score of 1.

When we first observed the bird, Scott pointed out the bluish hue that was sometimes apparent on the back of the bird. He mentioned he saw that in one of my photos from the prior day, but dismissed it as probably being an artifact of the photo. I was unaware of this impression until he pointed it out.

However, as the banding process began, we were still working under the assumption that this was going to be a Rufous Hummingbird, until the “numbers” kept coming in. Doug was recording and noted the significant difference between Rufous Hummingbirds on the data sheet. When Scott read the width of the outer tail feather aloud, he seemed shocked, and immediately measured again. And again. Doug and I kept glancing at each other, eyes wide, attempting to hold back exuberance.

Wing: 49.15mm

Tail: 30mm

Bill: 18.62mm

Width of Outer Tail Feather (R5): 5.44!!!

We double-checked all measurements, took lots of photos, and Doug and I tried to not explode with excitement as Scott calmly but clearly excitedly expressed comments such as “this is the biggest tail I have ever seen on a Selasphorous in the East.”  We, as well as the homeowner who had joined us for the banding, were all shaking with excitement by now. The below-freezing air temperature played much less of a role.  A quick check of references, a final check of the measurements, and then the bird was released.  Of course, the bird’s host had the honor of letting it go. After processing, it immediately returned to the feeder and fed regularly for the rest of the day, calling even more vociferously in between.

Upon checking some references at home, and sending photos out for additional opinions, it was clear to Scott that we (OK, he) had just documented the first Broad-tailed Hummingbird, a hatch-year male, for Maine – and apparently, for all of New England!

Jeannette was invited to observe the bird on the 22nd, while I spoke to the homeowner several times over the phone to discuss the opportunity for others to share in the excitement. I arranged for a small group to visit in the morning of the 23rd as a test-run – a few close friends and young birders were the guests. After that successful visit when we all had repeated views, I suggested a feeder be placed in the front yard. If the bird took to it, visitors would have the chance to see it from a public road, without entering the yard. 

I placed that one of our feeders on the morning of the 25th, after the holiday so as not to bother the homeowner. I also observed the bird, regularly feeding in the cold rain, making two visits to the feeders within 15 minutes – a faster pace now. It was cold, but was it also tanking up?  Later in the day, Jeannette returned with a small shepherd’s hook to give the feeder even better visibility from the road, along with getting it into the morning sun to help keep it warmer on these frigid mornings. 

The homeowner has been taking in the feeder (now, feeders), every night so the first feeding will be at room temperature nectar. She’s been heading out early with a headlamp so as not to miss it’s first feeding session! What an amazing host!

My Saturday Morning Birdwalk group was invited over on that first Saturday morning, but the bird never came to the new feeder. As per prior arrangement, an hour later we were able to enter the yard and in doing so we enjoyed immediate prolonged views of it at the original feeder in the backyard.

The next test run was another small group on Sunday morning. We arrived at 8:00, and for almost an hour were teased by the hummer as he darted around the backyard, calling constantly, and briefly perching in obscured views.  Then, at 8:56, he finally made a brief visit to the new feeder!

In the next 30 minutes, he visited that carefully-place feeder three times, including two prolonged drinking bouts which provided ample opportunity for people to study, enjoy, and photograph the bird.  Success!  He is now using a feeder in view from the road, without entering the yard!

And with that success, on Wednesday the 28th, I was given the go-ahead to let the word get out, slowly, methodically, and carefully managed to avoid crowds and overwhelming the homeowner and the neighbors.

In consultation with the homeowner, I was tasked with managing the crowds and birders’ behaviors. People needed to email me for the set of visitation instructions and caveats, and since the end of November birders visited, saw, photographed, and mostly remained on their best behavior. The vast majority (but of course, not all) even followed all of the rules! I remained in close contact with the homeowner and reassured her that just about everyone was receiving the instructions directly from me. I did my best to respond to every one of the emails I received, spacing out visitation as much as possible. Of course, not everyone followed every rule – especially the one about sharing the location.

The bird continued into the middle of December. I would say “miraculously” given the plummeting temperatures, but it was mostly through the passionate dedication of the homeowner. When temperatures failed to reach the freezing mark for a high on December 10th,  it ushered in the most challenging stretch of weather in which temperatures did not hit 32 for four days.  During the time, the homeowner would go out regularly throughout the day with unfrozen sugar water to replace the simple syrup popsicles. The hummingbird learned to recognize her and this activity and would often visit the feeder immediately after she walked away.

Unfortunately, however, during this time, it saved energy by sitting for long periods in the sun, out of view from visiting, shivering observers. Even more frustrating for some, was hearing it vocalize in the backyard and never seeing it from the road – at the side feeder or his favorite perch. Thankfully, no one decided to tempt fate by entering the yard to look around back.

Earlier in the month, I had asked Scott Weidensaul about possible departure times, given his experience with vagrant hummingbirds in the Northeast. He told me that birds often depart on the first nice day after the first significant cold snap where the temperatures failed to reach the freezing mark for multiple days.  Such a day occurred on 12/15, where temperatures reached the low 40’s and a light northerly wind was increasing.  Thinking it could be his last day, I finished my morning’s birding at the location.

I arrived at 10:02 and immediately found him sitting in one of his favorite perches in the multiflora Rose. He sat there – save for one short sally, presumably for an insect – for the next 16 minutes before buzzing off, presumably to the feeder in the backyard. I heard him for most of the time but did not glimpse him again before I departed at 10:30. 

By the middle of December, his first gorget feathers had already begun to appear – but only on one side of its head, best seen in this photo from the homeowner on 12/12.

I was sure this was it. Storm a’coming. Temperatures above normal in the low 40’s, a light northerly breeze, and the sun was shining for a while. But alas, with the wet snow falling on Friday the 16th, the homeowner informed us that he was still present and feeding actively.  He was still present on Saturday Morning, with heavy flakes starting to pile out.

Luckily, the heated hummingbird feeders that the homeowner ordered had arrived and were deployed just in time!

Over 90 100 people have seen it now, and visitors are still welcome to view it, as long as they follow a strict set of rules. If you would like to see it, email us at freeportwildbird@yahoo.com with a day that you are interested in going, and we’ll send the instructions and address the day before, as long as the numbers of visitors remain manageable each day and on our best behavior. To minimize the number of emails in the queue, please include the day in your original email.

***12/26 UPDATE:*** We just received an email this afternoon from the homeowner, reporting that she has not seen the bird since 3:47 pm on Friday, 12/23. Pressure was dropping rapidly through the day with rain, heavy at times, and southwesterly winds gusting over 50mph for much of the day. She reported it was drinking regularly throughout that stormy day, with temps rising into the low 50s. Overnight temperatures dropped dramatically, by 40 degrees by sunrise, despite still-strong SW winds. Certainly not the time and conditions I would have expected it to depart on (assuming it survived the night), but it does bring up some interesting questions. Did it survive the storm? Was the storm the final incentive to depart? And if so, did it depart in the “wrong” direction that perhaps it arrived on (i.e. it was a “mirror vagrant” flying in the wrong direction to start with)? But since it’s banded, should it be found anywhere else, we very well might know, but short of that, we are left to conjecture.

The homeowner is leaving the feeders out for a little longer, just in case. If he returns, we’ll post an update here and include new instructions for visitation if possible.

This Week’s Highlights: October 15 -21, 2022

I spent a lot of time looking at sparrows this week, as I love to do in October. This snappy immature White-crowned Sparrow was at Wolfe’s Neck Center on the 16th.

My observations of note over the past seven days included the following:

  • 1 continuing HUDSONIAN GODWIT, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 10/15 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group; the 247th all-time Saturday Morning Birdwalk species!). Observed at closer range later from the Maquoit Bay Conservation Land.
  • 1 Indigo Bunting, Wolfe’s Neck Center, Freeport, 10/16.
  • Incredibly morning at Bailey Island, Harpswell with Jeannette on 10/17: 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 1 CAPE MAY WARBLER, 1 Blue-headed Vireo, 1 Red-eyed Vireo.  6 total species of warblers; 7 species of sparrows. 400+ Dark-eyed Juncos, 200+ Yellow-rumped Warblers, 150+ White-throated Sparrows, 150+ Song Sparrows, etc, etc.
  • 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, our yard in Durham, 10/17.
  • 1 Red Crossbill, our yard in Durham, 10/19.
  • 353 Ruddy Ducks, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 61 Lesser Scaup, 18 Greater Scaup, etc, Sabattus Pond, Sabattus, 10/20.
  • 2 EVENING GROSBEAKS, 1 Common Yellowthroat, 50+ Swamp Sparrows, etc, Old Town House Park, North Yarmouth, 10/21.
I whiffed on phone-binning an Orange-crowned Warbler at Bailey Island on the 17th as I apparently followed the wrong bird. Turned out the other bird was this tardy Blue-headed Vireo, however.

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, 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, 2/19-25, 2022.

This ultra-confiding Harlequin Duck wowed the crowd at Sohier Park (the Nubble) in York during my Winter Waterbird Workshop for Down East Magazine’s Down East Adventures tour group on the 20th. 

A handful of observations of note over the past seven days included both signs of spring and winter specialties.

  • 2 male, 1 female BARROW’S GOLDENEYES, Winslow Park, Freeport, 2/19 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 male Red-winged Blackbird, wicked early FOY, feeders here at the store, 2/19-present. Four as of 2/23.
  • 1 THICK-BILLED MURRE, The Cliff House, Ogunquit, 2/20 (with Down East Adventures Winter Waterbird Workshop group).
  • 1 first-winter Iceland Gull, Auburn Riverwalk, 2/22 (with Jeannette).
  • 6 Common Grackles (FOY), Capisic Pond Park, Portland, 2/24.
  • 1 female Northern Pintail, Riverbank Park, Westbrook, 2/24.

This Week’s Highlights, 1/29-2/6, 2022

While not the rarest bird this week, I have been thoroughly entertained by this Brown Creeper who has taken to picking up bits of seed from under a feeder at our home in Pownal. The horizontal position makes the bird look so different! Sorry for the lousy photos though…they were taken through a screen during the ice/snow storm on 2/4.

The Blizzard of 2022 provided some great opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing locally for the first time this winter, so I took full advantage of that, even if it did further limit my dedicated birding during this busy week plus.  Interestingly, my most “serious” birding was a half day (post-snowblowing and shoveling) on Sunday searching Portland through Cape Elizabeth for storm-related birds, but that effort turned up nothing at all of note! Here are my observations of note over the past 9 days:

  • 5 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, 2 COMMON REDPOLLS (FOY), 6 Pine Siskins (FOY), and 1 Purple Finch, Long Falls Dam Road area of Carrying Place Township, 1/31 (with Jeannette).
  • The Androscoggin River between the downtowns of Lewiston and Auburn remain a surprisingly productive mid-winter hotspot. On 2/1, Jeannette and I discovered an incredible (especially for the interior of Maine) five species of dabblers from the Auburn Riverwalk!  Amongst the Mallards and a couple of American Black Ducks, there were single female GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN WIGEON, and NORTHERN PINTAIL.  Making this even more interesting is the fact that it’s usually the drakes that we find overwintering in Maine.  Additionally, the drake RING-NECKED DUCK continues, and we had a single 1st-winter Iceland Gull. Two Bufflehead and 5 Hooded Mergansers joined the usual Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers for a goodly inland total of 10 species of waterfowl. A unusually conspicuous Beaver continues to amuse here as well.
  • 3 drake and 1 hen BARROW’S GOLDENEYES and 8 Dunlin (FOW here), Winslow Park, Freeport, 2/13.

Other Notes:

  • My article – a 13-page photo salon – on the Hybrid Herons of Scarborough Marsh (Patches!) has finally been published in the most recent issue of North American Birds. In it, I lay out the theory that at least 5 different individuals have been seen in Scarborough Marsh since I first found an odd juvenile heron in July of 2012 that we now believe is a hybrid between a Snowy Egret and a Tricolored Heron.

I made the case that the two current birds are backcrosses, one with a Snowy Egret (SNEG X TRHE X SNEG) and the other with a Little Egret (SNEG X TRHE X LIEG). I’ll be watching them carefully for the potential of a developing hybrid swarm.

Unfortunately, at this time, the journal is only available online to members of the ABA. However, digital e-memberships (with access to all of the ABA publications) are only $30 a year, and you can purchase issues of the magazine directly from the ABA by emailing info@aba.org. Also, if you wanted to take a peek at the article, I do have a couple of extra copies here at the store for you to peruse.

Believe it or not, a hybrid heron is much rarer than a Steller’s Sea-Eagle, at least from a world perspective…in fact, it’s possible these birds are one of a kind!

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?

This Week’s Highlights, 1/1-7, 2022

This dapper drake American Wigeon at Brunswick’s historic Swinging Bridge on the 4th very well could have been the same bird that I found upriver in Durham three days prior, as the river was finally beginning to freeze over.

Happy New Year (List) everyone!  My sightings of note over the past seven days were as follows. Unfortunately, they did not include the Steller’s Sea-Eagle on Saturday or Sunday (but last week, on Friday…wow, just wow. Still can’t really believe that happened!) but did include a few goodies while searching for where it may have ended up (before its re-discovery in Boothbay on Thursday).

  • 1 drake American Wigeon, Rte 136, Durham, 1/1.
  • 18 Greater Scaup, Simpson’s Point, Brunswick, 1/3 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED X HERRING GULL HYBRID, Bath Landfill, 1/4 (with Jeannette)
  • 1 drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, Thorne Head Preserve, Bath, 1/4.
  • 1 drake American Wigeon, Swinging Bridge, Brunswick, 1/4.
  • 44 Greater Scaup, 38 distant unidentified scaup, 625+ American Black Ducks, 130+ Surf and White-winged Scoters, etc, Maquoit Bay Conservation Land, Brunswick, 1/6.
  • Here is our “West Freeport” territory tally from Sunday’s Freeport-Brunswick CBC:

– 5 American Black Ducks

– 30 Mallards

– 1 Hooded Merganser (2nd sector record)

– 1 Red-tailed Hawk

– 1 Ruffed Grouse

– 30 Wild Turkeys

– 12 Herring Gulls

– 26 Mourning Doves

– 4 Red-bellied Woodpeckers

– 28 Downy Woodpeckers

– 15 Hairy Woodpeckers

– 6 Pileated Woodpeckers (sector high count)

– 1 Northern Flicker (2nd sector record)

– 40 Blue Jays

– 104 American Crows

– 1 Common Raven

– 413 Black-capped Chickadees (2nd highest count)

– 90 Tufted Titmice (sector high count; old record of 44)

– 16 Red-breasted Nuthatches

– 45 White-breasted Nuthatches

– 1 Brown Creeper

– 11 Golden-crowned Kinglets

– 1 Carolina Wren

– 26 Eastern Bluebirds

– 1 American Robin

– 73 European Starlings (sector high count)

– 10 American Tree Sparrows

– 2 Song Sparrows

– 1 White-throated Sparrow

– 18 Dark-eyed Juncos

– 20 Northern Cardinals

– 20 House Finches

– 204 American Goldfinches (2nd highest count)

33 species (2nd highest for territory thanks to extensive open water this year).

8.5 hours: 22.4 miles by car; 18.5 miles by foot.

At the very least, it confirmed some of our preconceived notions: sparrows and frugivores are in short supply; winter finches and other irruptives are not around at all – but a huge pulse of goldfinches arrived late last week; and local resident breeding birds seemed to have done quite well this year.

  • And finally today, here is my annual blog prognosticating the Next 25 species to appear in Maine, and on my own list. Spoiler alert: I did not predict a Steller’s Sea-Eagle.