Tag Archives: Maine

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, April 2-8, 2022.

A distantly-phone-scoped photo of a drake Eurasian Wigeon does not do this spiffy bird justice!

A few “good” ducks, an increasing roster of new arrivals, and a successful tour were my sightings of note over the past seven days:

  • 12 NORTHERN SHOVELERS (one of my highest Maine counts), Maquoit Bay Conservation Land, Brunswick, 4/2 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 1 continuing drake EURASIAN WIGEON, Route 136, Durham, 4/7 (photo above). Originally found by N. Gibb on 4/3.

New Arrivals this week:

  • 2 Pied-billed Grebes (FOY), Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 4/3 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 5 Tree Swallows (FOY), Morgan Meadow WMA, 4/4 (with Jeannette).
  • 8 Great Egrets (FOY), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 1 Snowy Egret (FOY), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 1 Greater Yellowlegs (FOY), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • 1 Double-crested Cormorant (FOS), Scarborough Marsh, 4/4 (with Levi Burford and Katrina Fenton).
  • Big arrival of more Eastern Phoebes and Song Sparrows in particular night of 4/5-6.
  • 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (FOY), private property in Durham, 4/7 (with Jeannette).

This Week’s Highlights, March 26-April 1, 2022.

Red-throated Loon, Race Point, Cape Cod.

Jeannette and I escaped for a long weekend in Cape Cod, Friday through Monday. We were mostly looking for North Atlantic Right Whales, but of course we did some birding too!  Jeannette’s whale and bird photos from the weekend are posted in this short blog about our trip:

Meanwhile, back in Maine, the strong northwesterly winds slowed the pace of migration. However, by week’s end, I had some time do a little local birding, producing the following highlights:

  • 1 Winter Wren (FOY), our yard in Pownal, 3/31.
  • 3+ American Wigeon, 2+ Northern Pintail, 30+ Wood Ducks, etc, Route 136 fields, Durham, 3/31.
  • 1 Eastern Phoebe (FOY), Thornhurst Farm, North Yarmouth, 3/31.
  • 1 Osprey (FOY), Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 4/1.

The weather is looking good for Saturday night for our annual “Woodcocks Gone Wild” evening.  If there’s any uncertainty about when the forecast winds will diminish, be sure to check the News Page of our website. More information about the tour, and last year’s trip report, can be found here.

This Week’s Highlights, March 19-24, 2022.

My personal highlights over the past six were as follows. Not surprisingly, it was mostly first-of-year new arrivals. The new bird for my Bradbury Mountain list, however, was definitely more of a surprise!

  • 3 male and 1 female NORTHERN SHOVELERS (FOY), 100+ Greater and 10+ Lesser Scaup, 1 drake American Wigeon, 1 Bonaparte’s Gull (FOY), etc, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 3/19 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 4 Horned Larks and 1 American Wigeon, Highland Road, Brunswick, 3/19 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 2 Eastern Meadowlarks (FOY) and 5 Brown-headed Cowbirds (FOY), Chesley Hill Road, Durham, 3/20.
  • 1 Great Blue Heron (FOS), Cousin’s River Marsh, 3/20.
  • 4 American Kestrels (FOY), Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 3/20.
  • 1 adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, fly-by at the Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 3/20 (with Zane Baker). This was my 142nd all-time Bradbury Mountain State Park species!
  • 20 Ring-necked Ducks (FOY), 2 American Wigeon, etc, Mouth of the Abagadasset River, Bowdoinham, 3/21 (with Jeannette).
  • 6 Fish Crows (FOY), Maine Mall Road, 3/22.
  • 6 Brant, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 3/22.
  • 7+ American Woodcocks, Pownal, 3/23 (with Jeannette).

And in case you missed it, I was one of the guests on Thursday’s Maine Calling, talking about spring migration, bird feeding, and bird health. You can listen to the replay of the episode here.

And finally, our spring tour season gets kicked off next Saturday with our annual “Woodcocks Gone Wild!” See the Tours page of our website for more info.

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.

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) *Edit, 4/1. See Below*
  • 9) Audubon’s Shearwater – on “hypothetical” list, but I think the record is good.
  • 10) Little Stint
  • 11) Anna’s Hummingbird
  • 12) “Western” Flycatcher (Pacific-slope/Cordilleran)
  • 13) Common Ground-Dove
  • 14) Allen’s Hummingbird
  • 15) Spotted Redshank
  • 16) Painted Redstart
  • 17) Ross’s Gull
  • 18) Black-capped Petrel
  • 19) Lesser Nighthawk
  • 20) Barolo Shearwater (a good record, with photographs, unlike my “it has to be this” sight record!)
  • 21) Elegant Tern
  • 22) Kelp Gull
  • 23) Black-tailed Gull
  • 24) Hooded Oriole
  • 25) Common Scoter

***EDIT, 3/31 – When a Trumpeter Swan arrived in Scarborough Marsh, it was noted as the 2nd State Record. I realized that the 2011 bird from Fortune’s Rock Beach in Biddeford was indeed added to the “official” state list. I had counted it on my own list (so no change below), but I never followed up on its status, apparently. With the rapidly expanding introduced populations in the Northeast, along with increasing amount of states “declaring” the bird “established,” I’m shocked it’s taken this long to get a second one. The predictions list has been updated accordingly.***

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 391st 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!