Tag Archives: Georgetown

2022 Maine Birds Predictions Blog

No one could have predicted the bird of the year, err..century..err, ever.  This magnificent Steller’s Sea-Eagle spent four days in Georgetown right around the New Year.

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.

I feel like I could have just recycled my blog from 2021.  “…Worst Year Ever.”  Ha. 2021 replied, “hold my beer!”  That all being said, a complete summary would show the full picture, with all its ups and downs (and there were a lot of downs), but undoubtably with many happy moments contained within.  That’s all beyond the scope of this blog. I’ll just stick to the birds.

Of course, nothing compares – or perhaps, ever will compare! – to the headliner of 2021: The Steller’s Sea-Eagle. No, this was not on my predictions list – or anyone else’s at the start of the year. That being said, following reports this summer in New Brunswick, November in Nova Scotia, and then December in Massachusetts, there is no doubt it would have been optimistically added to the list for 2022…had it not shown up in Georgetown on December 30th (or perhaps earlier).  This mega-of-megas, one of the world’s most extraordinary birds, might render almost any other first state record pedestrian, or at least anticlimactic.

At the very least, it does overshadow the only other chaseable first Maine record for this year: Redwing, a European thrush. What was the “bird of the year” until three days remaining on the calendar, this bird delighted many hundreds of birders at Capisic Pond Park in Portland at the end of January 2021 – which seems like eons ago! The first state record, however, actually came earlier in the month, when a Redwing – perhaps the very same individual – was a one-day wonder on private property in Steuben. Lucky for all, the next one/sighting of it showed up on public property and stayed around for about three weeks.  Redwing was #16 on my “Next 25 Species for Maine” list.

And finally, a Masked Booby surprised observers on Mount Desert Rock on August 9th.  With increasing observations of tropical seabirds north of the Gulf Stream, this is less shocking than it would have been a few years ago.

Three first state records in one year is pretty good, and the quality of this year’s roster is impressive. How will 2022 compare?

Therefore, my list of next 25 species to occur in Maine receives just a few tweaks.

  • 1) Neotropical Cormorant
  • 2) Graylag Goose
  • 3) California Gull
  • 4) Spotted Towhee
  • 5) Hammond’s Flycatcher
  • 6) Bermuda Petrel
  • 7) Black-chinned Hummingbird
  • 8) Common Shelduck
  • 9) Trumpeter Swan (of wild, “countable” origin)
  • 10) Audubon’s Shearwater – on “hypothetical” list, but I think the record is good.
  • 11) Little Stint
  • 12) Anna’s Hummingbird
  • 13) “Western” Flycatcher (Pacific-slope/Cordilleran)
  • 14) Common Ground-Dove
  • 15) Allen’s Hummingbird
  • 16) Spotted Redshank
  • 17) Painted Redstart
  • 18) Ross’s Gull
  • 19) Black-capped Petrel
  • 20) Lesser Nighthawk
  • 21) Barolo Shearwater (a good record, with photographs, unlike my “it has to be this” sight record!)
  • 22) Elegant Tern
  • 23) Kelp Gull
  • 24) Black-tailed Gull
  • 25) Common Scoter

Personally, I was fortunate to add two birds to my own state list this year. And they were good ones!

The aforementioned Redwing got things started. It was not on my Top 25 list because I expected it to be a one-day wonder in some far-off place, never to be seen again. It was. But then it, or another bird – there were several Redwings in the Northeast part of the continent last winter – debuted at Capisic. That was fun.

Did I mention there was a Steller’s Sea-Eagle? That was my 390th species in Maine.

So neither of my state birds were on my Predictions list. I’ll be OK though, all things considered.

And, as usual, there were also a handful of potential state birds for me that I did not see.  Franklin’s Gull appears to be on its way to becoming my nemesis, with another one this year: a one-day wonder at the Sanford Lagoons on 9/9. It was #3 on my list.

A Sandwich Tern at Mount Desert Rock on 7/6 was on my Honorable Mention list, as was Brown Booby, which has started to become regular north of Cape Cod.  There was one off of Biddeford Pool on 7/8 ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa, followed by one on Mount Desert Rock August 2nd through 9th (not an easy place to chase!). 

So a few tweaks to my list for my next additions to my personal state list are as follows:

  • 1) American White Pelican
  • 2) Neotropic Cormorant
  • 3) Franklin’s Gull
  • 4) Brown Pelican
  • 5) Graylag Goose
  • 6) California Gull
  • 7) Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  • 8) Brown Booby
  • 9) Slaty-backed Gull
  • 10) Boreal Owl
  • 11) Calliope Hummingbird
  • 12) Common Ringed Plover
  • 13) Cerulean Warbler
  • 14) White Ibis
  • 15) Gull-billed Tern
  • 16) Hammond’s Flycatcher
  • 17) Spotted Towhee
  • 18) Pacific Golden-Plover
  • 19) Wood Stork
  • 20) Ross’s Gull
  • 21) Black-chinned Hummingbird
  • 22) Brewer’s Blackbird
  • 23) Yellow Rail
  • 24) Virginia’s Warbler
  • 25) Common Shelduck

So let’s see what 2021 (edited: 2022) brings to the Maine birding world. A return to a sense of normalcy would be a nice start, however.

I am overdue to luck into an American White Pelican in the state!

This Week’s Highlights, 12/29-31, 2021

At this point, this bird really needs no introduction. Here are Jeannette’s photos of the famous Steller’s Sea-Eagle that we caught up on the morning of on New Year’s Eve at Five Islands in Georgetown.

What an incredible bird!
  • 1 drake Northern Pintail, Harraseeket Yacht Club, Freeport, 12/29.
  • 1 Double-crested Cormorant, dusk at Five Islands, Georgetown, 12/30.
  • 5 Double-crested Cormorants, 4++ Razorbill, etc, Five Islands, Georgetown, 12/31.  Oh yeah, that bird in the photos above, too.
While spending Christmas with family in New Jersey, Jeannette and I successfully chased this Wood Stork at my old stomping grounds of Sandy Hook. It was my 350th species in New Jersey.
Not bad for a place that I haven’t lived in over 20 years!

Not Your Usual December Highlights!

While this fall’s rarity season got off to a fairly slow start at the end of October, things have really heated up lately. In fact, it’s been a really outstanding couple of weeks.  And in the past few days, I have enjoyed some really great birding.

The mild temperatures have certainly played a role – while the southerly and southwesterly winds that have ushered in much of the unseasonably warm air may still be facilitating the arrival of some vagrants, at the very least the mild temperatures and benign weather are allowing vagrants and unseasonable “lingering” migrants to survive long enough to be found! And, the lovely weather is certainly keeping more birders out in the field. I have certainly been taking full advantage of this beautiful weather.

On Sunday, Ed Hess and I visited the Saco Riverwalk. While this is always a hotspot at this season, it is really extraordinary this year. After 8 species of warblers were seen there in November, the mild weather has allowed at least 5 species to continue – almost unprecedented for December. Ed and I saw the Tennessee Warbler, a really remarkable December record…
L1040092_TEWA,SacoRiverWalk, 12-6-15_edited-1

…both of the two continuing Yellow Warblers (the photos are of one of the two individuals), which is another exceptional species for the date…
L1040022_YWAR,SacoRiverWalk,12-6-15_edited-1

…the Nashville Warbler (and confirmed the continued presence of a second Nashville!)…
NAWA by Ed_edited-1

…the Common Yellowthroat (more expected for the season)…
L1040098_COYE1,SacoRiverWalk,12-5-15_edited-1

…and we saw one of the two Ruby-crowned Kinglets still present (much more regular in December than any warbler).
L1040116_RCKI,SacoYachtClub,12-6-15-edited

And although we didn’t see it, the most amazing of them all, a Blackburnian Warbler is still present. (Jeannette and I saw and photographed it earlier in the week, 11/30).
IMG_3040_edited-2

Ed and I then headed to Cape Elizabeth, where we photographed the continuing Grasshopper Sparrow at Dyer Point, and odd bird to see juxtaposed with Harlequin Ducks (18) and Purple Sandpipers (6)…
L1040136_GHSP2,DyerPt,12-6-15_edited-1L1040151_GHSP3,DyerPoint,12-6-15_edited-1L1040163_GHSP1,DyerPoint,12-6-15

…And we twitched a Wilson’s Warbler found earlier in the day nearby, just so we could say we saw five species of warblers in a day in December!  It cannot, however, be said that we “photographed” five species:
WIWA,CapeElizabethm12-6-15

The Grasshopper Sparrow was also our fifth species of sparrow on the day (Song, American Tree, White-throated, and Dark-eyed Junco) – I doubt I’ve had five species of warbler and 5 species of sparrows in the same day in December in Maine before.

Of course, that only somewhat consoled us about missing the vagrant Western Tanager that was found at the Riverwalk later in the afternoon. Damn.

On Monday, I headed over to Reid State Park in Georgetown with Kristen Lindquist. It was a rather quiet day here, but it’s always one of my favorite places to take a walk, especially on such (another) gorgeous morning.  43 Red-necked Grebes, a Northern Harrier, a flyover Red Crossbill (my first of the season), oh yeah, and another rarity: “Oregon” Junco.

While some might dismiss it as “merely a subspecies,” the westernmost subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco is truly a rarity in the Northeast, and this was the first definitive “Oregon” Junco that I have seen in Maine (although I have never chased one at a feeder, where they are usually seen). It was in a small flock of “Slate-colored” Juncos and an American Tree Sparrow in the scrubby central ridge in the middle of the Griffith’s Head parking lot.

The flock flushed from short grass at the edge as we rounded the corner, and as it briefly alighted in a shrub, I was shocked to see a black-hooded junco. Closer inspection as we followed it for about 20 minutes yielded all of the pertinent field marks for a “textbook” Oregon, nicely eliminating the intermediate “hybrid swarm” – or whatever it is – that we sometimes refer to as “Cassiar’s” Junco.

Note the complete, black (not dark gray) hood, lacking contrast in the supraloral area. Also, the hood is cleanly demarcated on the back of the head, contrasting crisply with the reddish-brown back. The flanks and sides are particularly pale salmon-buff, which is not atypical for adult males (although many are much brighter). At the lower margin of the hood, note the smooth, rounded margin across the chest and up to the “shoulder.”
IMG_6908_ORJU4,meIMG_6909_edited-1IMG_6910_ORJU1,K_edited-1IMG_6912_edited-1,K.Lindquist

Afterwards, Kristen and I birded around Bath – no white-winged gulls or Barrow’s Goldeneyes yet, no doubt related to the mild temperatures as well, but we did spot one of the Snowy Owls at Brunswick Landing – unlike warblers, a slightly more expected highlight for early December in Maine.

While Jeannette and I didn’t turn up any rarities – or much of anything else for that matter! – birding Harpswell Neck this morning, I very much look forward to what the coming weeks will produce, especially when it finally turns cold!