Tag Archives: shorebirds

Post-Arthur Beach Birding and Catch-Up

I know I haven’t been blogging much this summer, but I hope you know that doesn’t mean I haven’t been birding. Quite the contrary, actually! My June was as busy with tours and private guiding as it could have been, and with some other projects going on, much of my birding was rather purposeful. Of course, there was some wholly-recreational birding mixed in as well from time to time. Despite my irregular blogging, I did my best to keep folks up to date with my birding adventures and discoveries, mostly with near-daily posts to our store’s Facebook Page. (Remember, you need not be “on Facebook” to browse the posts of a business page.)

It was a busy month. But that’s not a complaint. And now, Jeannette and I are off to Colorado for a bona-fide vacation, to visit friends, family, and yes, do some birding. But first, I had Sunday morning to find some birds. My third attempt to organize a charter to see the Tufted Puffin that has been seen irregularly at Machias Seal Island (3rd or 4th record for the entire Atlantic Ocean!) was thwarted by residual high seas and localized damage from the passage of Tropical Storm Arthur. While Arthur took away my chance to see a Tufted Puffin in Maine waters, I was hoping it would produce some rarities of its own.

In a tropical system, birds are sometimes entrained in the eye, while others are pushed out ahead of the storm. This displacement usually occurs in the strong northeastern quadrant of the storm, and birds escape the eye when it hits land. With the storm passing to the east of Maine, I did not expect to see any vagrants on Friday. However, when the storm reached land in southern Nova Scotia on Saturday morning, birders there were in prime position for rarities. And sure enough: lots of Black Skimmers, several Gull-billed, Royal Terns, and Forster’s Terns…all rarities from points further south. (You can peruse the reports from the province, here).

These birds, commonly displaced by tropical systems, were likely picked up by the storm as it passed over North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Thursday. Here’s the cumulative wind map as of 11:00am on Friday, with the storm’s center already off of the Delmarva Peninsula.
entrainment

As the storm hit Nova Scotia, birds finally had a chance to escape its grips. But notice the winds for Maine – they were already strong out of the northwest, on the backside of the storm (note the light winds of the disintegrating eye over the northern Bay of Fundy).
current winds,7-5-14

So Nova Scotia birders were having a lot of fun…and I was not seeing a Tufted Puffin. So instead, I decided to comb the beaches to look for some of these terns that perhaps are already returning south. While most of these birds likely made a bee-line straight across the Gulf of Maine on their return journey, some birds might conceivably follow the coast.

After birding Eastern Road at high tide (34 Least Sandpipers and 20 Short-billed Dowitchers – fall migration is definitely underway!), Lois Gerke and I headed to Pine Point Beach, where we spent a little more than an hour watching from the jetty. As the tide went out, exposing the sandbar and flats, Common, Least, and a few Roseate Terns were feeding, roosting, and loafing with at least a hundred Bonaparte’s Gulls. But alas, there was nothing unusual among them.

I then checked the mudflats from the co-op (more Short-billed Dowitchers, a few more Roseate Terns, and a lot of feeding Common Terns) before I spent the remainder of low tide at Hill’s Beach in Biddeford. At least 8 Roseate Terns, 75+ Bonaparte’s Gulls, 17 Short-billed Dowitchers, and my first Whimbrel of the year joined the regulars, but alas, no rare terns.

It appears I had the right idea, but just the wrong timing. Later in the afternoon, a Royal Tern was found at Hill’s Beach. And then, this morning, two Black Skimmers were roosting at Stratton Island. There are still quite a few waifs being seen in Nova Scotia, so it is conceivable that the coming days could see some reports of returning rarities here in Maine. Unfortunately, this morning, I had time only for a quick stroll at Capisic Pond Park. No rare terns there, but I did see my first Monarch butterfly of the season – which, the way things are going for this species, is even more exciting.

Meanwhile, indirectly storm-related were the 6 Glossy Ibis that were a little bit of a surprise on my Saturday Morning Birdwalk along Highland Road in Brunswick. The heavy rain nicely saturated the soil, and gulls and these ibis had moved inland to take advantage of the bounty.

In other birding news, a pair of Evening Grosbeaks has been frequenting our Pownal feeders – which are particularly exciting considering the dearth of them this year…in fact, these are the only ones that I have seen all year long. And, even more unexpectedly, three Eastern Bluebirds have hatched right here at the store!

Arthur gave us a momentary glimmer of rarity fever, and “fall’ shorebird migration is definitely underway. But July is for breeding birds – from terns to “sharp-tailed” sparrows to bluebirds and warblers. In other words, there’s no such thing as the “summer birding doldrums!”

South Coastal Maine Rarity Roundup TEN!

BLPW,SheridanStreet,Portland,11-3-14
This Blackpoll Warbler was one of the record 9 species of warblers tallied on the day, and one of the top birds in my Portland territory. It was only the third time that this species was spotted by Rarity Roundup teams.

Each year on the first weekend of November, a group of us get together to scour the Southern Maine coast for vagrants, lingering migrants, pioneers, irruptive, and other seasonal highlights.  Coinciding with the peak of “Rarity Season,” we set out to use the geography of the Maine coast, coupled with knowledge of the best habitats and vagrant traps in order to find as many “good” birds as possible.  While this year failed to produce any “Megas,” we once again had a great day in the field, found lots of fun stuff, and enjoyed good food and beer at the Great Lost Bear at the end of the day (the real reason we all get together for this event!)

119 species were tallied by the 8 teams of the TENTH Annual South Coastal Maine Rarity Roundup, six species above our 10-year average, despite somewhat more limited coverage than in the past few years. The continuing “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler was added to the cumulative checklist, while we also had our second-ever Snowy Egret, Prairie Warbler, and Nelson’s Sparrow.  Blackpoll Warbler and Clay-colored Sparrow appeared for the third time.

Most teams experienced a decidedly “birdy” day, especially from Portland through Scarborough.  A fallout of Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and Hermit Thrushes occurred with overnight northwesterly winds and a line of pre-dawn showers, with the fallout especially evident on the Portland Peninsula.  I’ll have more about the fallout on a blog entry later today.

Record high tallies were set for Pectoral Sandpiper (13), Northern Flicker (10), Carolina Wren (11), Hermit Thrush (52: the 26 in Portland alone was only one short of the previous all-time high), “Western” Palm Warbler (3), Chipping Sparrow (12), Field Sparrow (3; tie), and Lapland Longspur (37).  9 species of warblers was a new record as well, and Painted Turtle was added to our non-feather species list.  All but the longspurs can likely be explained by the unusually warm season to date.

Territory Highlights were as follows:

– Area 1, Kittery-York: Davis Finch.
1 NASHVILLE WARBLER, Legion Pond, Kittery.
1 Pine Warbler, Fort Foster.
1 PRAIRIE WARBLER, Fort Foster.
1 “AUDUBON’S” YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, Fort Foster.

– Area 2, Ogunquit/Kennebunport: Turk Duddy.
2 American Wigeon, Phillip’s Cove, Ogunquit.
1 Northern Pintail, Phillip’s Cove, Ogunquit.
1 Lesser Yellowlegs, Goose Rocks Beach.

– Area 3, Wells/Kennebunk: Doug Suitor, David Ladd, and Slade Moore.
2 Semipalmated Sandpipers, Webhannet Marsh
2 Gray Catbirds, Laudholm Farm.

– Area 4, Biddeford-Saco: Pat Moynahan, Marian Zimmerman, Joanne Stevens, et al.
1 NASHVILLE WARBLER, Saco Yacht Club.
1 CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, Timber Point.
1 NELSON’S SPARROW, Day’s Landing.
2 Lapland Longspurs, Day’s Landing.

– Area 5, Scarborough: Ed Hess, Noah Gibb, and Leon Mooney.
8 Great Egrets
1 SNOWY EGRET, Pelreco marsh
12 American Coots, Prout’s Pond.
8 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, Eastern Road.
35 Lapland Longspurs

– Area 6, Cape Elizabeth: International Man of Mystery, Claudia, Robby Lambert.
2 “Western” Palm Warblers, private property
1 “Yellow” Palm Warbler, private property
1 DICKCISSEL, Higgin’s Beach.

– Area 7, South   Portland: John Berry and Gordon Smith.
1 Ring-necked Pheasant, Fort Williams Park.
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Calvary Cemetery.
1 Pine Warbler, Bug Light Park

– Area 8, Portland: Derek Lovitch and Kristen Lindquist; Jeannette Lovitch (Capisic and Evergreen); and a cameo by Doug Hitchcox.
2 Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Promenade.
1 BLUE-HEADED VIREO, Mercy Pond.
1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, Eastern Promenade.
1 BLACKPOLL WARBLER, Sheridan Street.
1 White-crowned Sparrow, West Commercial Street.

As usual, I exhaustively cover the Portland Peninsula and once again the most urban block in the state produced some great birds.  Kristen joined me for the second year in a row, while Jeannette (and Sasha) helped out with a few outlying patches.  Doug joined us just long enough to find the only White-crowned Sparrow of the entire day.  In addition to the goodies listed above, Kristen and I amassed 9 species of sparrows.

The fallout that I mentioned above was very evident in the morning, as we birded Portland’s East End. 150+ White-throated Sparrows and 100+ Song Sparrows littered the Eastern Promenade.  While Dark-eyed Juncos were fewer there, we encountered some big groups elsewhere, such as 60+ behind the East End School and 50+ in the lot on Sheridan Street, with 70+ later in the day in Western Cemetery. White-throats were everywhere: 50+ on Sheridan   Street for example.  And once again there was a decidedly disproportionate number of White-throated Sparrows in gardens and landscaping of downtown Portland.  A short loop from One City Center through Monument Square, behind Portland High, and back through Post Office Park yielded 35 White-throats, with the only other native migrant being 7 Hermit Thrushes.  Like the sparrow, Hermit Thrushes appear in a wildly disproportionate number to other migrants – especially all other thrushes – in downtown Portland.  I’m convinced that something causes White-throated Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes to either a) become disoriented by urban lights more often/more readily, especially under low ceilings (it was cloudy for most of the night and morning) or perhaps b) they simply don’t leave these lots in a morning flight as species such as Dark-eyed Juncos might.  In fact, I just read in an article in the Brown Alumni Magazine that a friend of the store dropped off about collisions in New York City that since 1997, more White-throated Sparrows have been found dead than any other species.  Coincidence?

Our sum of 26 Hermit Thrushes was truly amazing, as was our overall diversity on the day.  While the mild weather certainly has a lot to do with the number of lingering/pioneering birds that we, and other teams, encountered, the late-season fallout earlier in the morning certainly helped our cause.

Here are the overnight reflectivity and velocity images, with 10pm, 1am, and 4am once again used as an example.
a 10pm 11-2-13 ref

b 10pm 11-2-13 vel

c 1am 11-3-13 ref

d 1am 11-3-13 vel

e 4am 11-3-13 ref

f 4am 11-3-13 vel

At 10pm, there’s mostly rain in the area, but birds are mixed in.  By 1:00am, birds are on the move, as the rain has mostly moved into the Mid-Coast and offshore.  Birds were still on the go at 4:00am, as a narrow line of showers moved through the coast.  About an hour later, a steady rain developed (not shown) that continued until a short time before the 6:20 sunrise.  I believe this is why there were so many sparrows in and around the city come dawn.

In other words, it was another great day of birding in urban Portland in the heart of “Rarity Season!”

Current Birds, Weather, Predictions . . . and Pretty Shorebird Photos

Yesterday’s record high temperatures (92 in Portland shattered the old record of 87) were ushered in on a strong southwesterly flow.  Unseasonably warm air continues today, as the southwesterly winds aloft are picking up ahead of tonight’s cold front (more on that shortly).

Here are the continental wind maps from yesterday afternoon, and this afternoon.  Yesterday, you can see the south-southwesterly flow originating from under a broad area of high pressure over the Southeast…
wind,9-11-13

…but notice that by today, cool, Canadian air was pouring down into the Upper Midwest (which resulted in some big flights over the last two nights in that region).
wind,9-12-13

In addition to hot and very muggy conditions, this strong southerly flow has the potential to usher in some hot new rarities to our neck of the woods. While it appears that the Biddeford Pool Kentucky Warbler has moved on, I am expecting some more southern strays to turn up in our region.  Keep in mind, however, that these winds are not “blowing” birds north, but instead facilitating birds to arrive here that are either wandering (post-breeding dispersal, prospecting for new territories, etc) or area already flying in the wrong direction (e.g. “180-degree misorientation”).

In other words, if a Kentucky Warbler – for example – was “miswired” and began to fly north instead of south, a strong southerly wind would push it even farther the “wrong” way.  Then, with tonight’s cold front, the strong northwesterly winds that follow could push the birds towards the coast.  There, they find a coastal migrant trap – i.e. a dense thicket full of fruiting bushes in the woods of Biddeford Pool – to seek shelter in while they refuel.  There, they are more likely to be found by an alert birder than say somewhere in the valleys of the western Maine mountains.  Many migrants spend 3 to 7 days to “refuel.”  I don’t think it was a coincidence that the Biddeford Pool KEWA was seen for five days…and that it disappeared after a night of light southerly winds. Of course, it may have just moved to a richer food patch, or one without birders unnecessarily blasting a tape at it all afternoon.

Anyway, what will the weekend produce?  I might be thinking more along the lines of birds like Summer Tanagers and Hooded Warblers based on this recent weather pattern.  Unfortunately, I won’t be around to find them!  Instead, I will be helping out at the Leica Sports Optics booth at the Cape Cod Birding Festival in Hyannis (I’ll also be signing copies of “How to Be a Better Birder,” which of course covers many of the vagrant-producing and Mega-finding topics that I have touched upon here).

Ahead of tonight’s cold front, and before the forecasted thunderstorms of the afternoon, I – not surprisingly – was out birding this morning.  It’s September – there’s really no such thing as a night with “no” migration.  However, what was flying last night was not being noticed on the radar; likely a limited number of birds were flying below the clouds, however.

Here’s the midnight radar image for example:
12am radar, 9-12-13

That would be thunderstorms.  Not birds.  And we can verify it from the velocity image:
12am velocity, 9-12-13

…A distinct west to east movement, unlike the northerly to southerly movement of southbound fall migrant birds.  Therefore, I was not surprised to have very, very few birds overhead at dawn over our yard this morning, or later on at Hedgehog Mountain Park.  I did, however, find a lot of birds in the woods.  While some of these might have been new arrivals that snuck in below the clouds and between the storms, the mixed-species foraging flocks working through the woods was much more indicative of birds that have been around for a day or two.  The flock that moved through our yard shortly after sunrise, consisting mostly of Blackpoll Warblers, also contained not one, but two new Yard Birds for us: Cape May Warbler and Philadelphia Vireo!  Also, at least two Tennessee Warblers.

Multiple mixed flocks were encountered at The Hog, led by Blackpoll Warblers, along with a healthy serving of Black-throated Greens.  A Lincoln’s Sparrow foraged at the edge, and a mixed-species flock consisting of 40+ Chipping Sparrows, 6 Eastern Bluebirds, and 1 Pine Warbler worked the edge of the transfer station and out through the ballfields.

Afterwards, I zipped down to Pine Point for the low tide.  Shorebird numbers are down considerably, as expected by the middle of September.  And, I would expect a lot of the birds I saw today to clear out behind this next cold front.  About 180 Semipalmated Sandpipers led the way, punctuated by a juvenile Red Knot, and two continuing American Oystercatchers (they were too far to determine age, visible over on Western Beach as viewed from Pine Point Beach).  Four juvenile Dunlins were a sign that their migration – one of our two latest migrant shorebirds – is just now picking up.  The highlight, however, were side-by-side “Eastern” and “Western” Willets.  Unfortunately, I was only able to get the two in the frame together by phone-scoping, here with a Greater Yellowlegs for a convenient reference.
EWIL_with_WWIL2, Pine Point, 9-12-13

I then carefully approached with my “real” camera, but I never again saw the two birds in the same field of view.  However, I did get solid photos of both the juvenile Western…
DSC_0002_WesternWILL1,Pine Point,9-13-13

…and the juvenile Eastern.
DSC_0005_EasternWILL1,Pine Point, 9-13-13

Even from the lousy phone-scoped photos, you can see how distinctive these two subspecies (for now!) are.  The smaller, “dumpier,” browner Eastern nicely contrasts with the larger, lankier, and much grayer Western.  Also, note how the darker brown scapulars of the Eastern contrast with the rest of the wing; Western is more uniform.  The head of the Eastern is also more contrast-y, and in this individual, the bill is so distinctly shorter and blunter.

Elsewhere, I finally got a chance to look for – and find – the juvenile Hudsonian Godwit that has been frequenting the river behind the Scarborough Marsh Nature Center for about a week now.  This is the first “Hud-wit” that I have seen in two years here in Maine – this once-common migrant has definitely declined dramatically in the state.
DSC_0010_HUGOjuv1,NatureShed,9-12-13 DSC_0050_HUGOjuv3,Nature_Shed,9-12-13

Now, my eyes are on the weather maps, and after dusk, the radar, to see if I will be at SandyPoint at sunrise on Friday. This is the wind map as of 5pm.  The northwesterlies behind the front are barely peeking into the region north of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.
winds at 5pm, 9-12-13

Currently, forecasters are suggesting that the cold front won’t pass through until tomorrow morning.  However, with very light winds overnight, perhaps with a westerly component, there could be some birds on the move…depending on when this latest batch of rain and thunderstorms (the storms last night and this afternoon were wicked, weren’t they?  And very un-September-like) moves through. Will the front get here soon enough?  Will birds be moving directly behind the front?  Will they be pushed offshore enough to need to reorient in the morning?  I’ll let you know tomorrow!

Shorebird Pseudo-Big Day

Luke Seitz and I embarked on a semi-serious “Shorebird Big Day” on Wednesday.  I say “semi-serious” because we didn’t exactly try too hard to build our list…at least not after our first stop.  Instead, we spent more time watching shorebirds, studying, and photographing them.  We still, however, tallied 14 species of shorebirds, but instead of heading inland to pick up Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Upland Sandpiper, we just splashed in the water and studied dowitchers at Hill’s Beach.  It wasn’t a bad way to spend a gorgeous summer day.

We began in the morning at high tide by scouring Scarborough Marsh from the Eastern Road Trail.  If we were to have a chance at 20 species of shorebirds on the day, we would need to add a rarity or two from the pannes.  Unfortunately, high water levels from all of the recent rain minimized habitat, and shorebirds were not as plentiful as we would have preferred.  We did, however, see 2 or 3 Stilt Sandpipers, a decent bird in the summer.  Other than Greater Yellowlegs, with about 55 individuals, numbers were relatively low: 75 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 40 Short-billed Dowitchers, 25+ Least Sandpipers, 8 Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 Black-bellied Plovers, 2 Semipalmated Plovers, and 1 Willet.

Making up for the low shorebird totals, however, were the high wading bird totals: 85 Snowy Egrets, 60 Great Egrets, 40 Glossy Ibis, 39 Little Blue Herons, and 9 Great Blue Herons.  In addition to teasing out one of the continuing White-faced Ibises and spotting the continuing full Tricolored Heron, we also saw BOTH of the presumed Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret hybrids.  Yup, there are two of these beasties out there!

The first is the bird that has been present all summer, with a ghostly cast to an otherwise Tricolored-like pattern.  Pure white is confined to the belly, the throat, and a thin line in the foreneck.
TRHExSNEG-A1,ScarMarsh,7-31-13_edited-1
TRHExSNEG-A2,ScarMarsh,7-31-13_edited-1

However, recently, a second bird has appeared, which is very reminiscent of the first, but has some splotchy areas of white, including mostly white wingtips.  I believe I saw this bird on July 18th when I was out with a client and sans camera; I remember commenting (and my field notes confirm) that I didn’t remember so much white in the wing
TRHExSNEG-B1splotchy,ScarMarsh,7-31-13_edited-2
TRHExSNEG- B2splotchy,ScarMarsh,7-31-13_edited-1

Meanwhile, it was nice to see that at least one of the White-faced Ibises continue, although at this stage of molt, it was impossible to age.  It was also not very close.  Here’s Luke’s best shot (mine were not passable at all).
WFIB_byLuke,EasternRd, 7-31-13_edited-1

After spending more time with waders and a little time of sparrows, such as this Nelson’s Sparrow…
NESP,EasternRd,7-31-13_edited-1

…we attempted to regain our shorebird focus over at Pine Point, as the tide was rolling out.  The mudflats had plenty of birds, including a few birds that would be important for a Shorebird Big Day, such as the pair – now, featuring two fledglings! – of American Oystercatchers (the only breeding pair in the state!).  We also had four Whimbrel, along with 296 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 124 Semipalmated Plovers, 25 Willets, 25 Short-billed Dowitchers, 19 Black-bellied Plovers, 3 Ruddy Turnstones, and 2 each of Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs.

But with a morning total of a mere 11 species of shorebirds, we elected for a leisurely lunch at Saco Island Deli instead of heading inland to work on our shorebird list – it is really too early in the season for a true Shorebird Big Day, but I am not sure if I have ever hit 20 in July, and since this was a day we both had a chance to get out all day together, we figured it was at least worth considering.  Anyway, on the incoming tide, we visited Hill’s Beach, where once again, we elected to forego shorebird listing for shorebird “quality” time, and therefore just spent close to three hours playing in the sand.

While the two Red Knots…
DSC_0175_REKN1,HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1

…4 Piping Plovers (a pair fledged two young here for the first time in recent memory), and 8 Sanderlings brought our count to 14 species on the day, we became distracted by photographing terns and studying dowitchers.  While our goodly count of 155 Semipalmated Plovers were augmented by about 65 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 8 Black-bellied Plovers, 4 Ruddy Turnstones, and 1 Least Sandpiper, it was the 120 or so Short-billed Dowitchers that kept our attention.

We were looking for individuals of the interior subspecies hendersonii, as I did on Sunday with Phil. (See blog and photos here:

https://mebirdingfieldnotes.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/biddeford-in-shorebird-season/).  We had what was possibly the same bright bird as Sunday (see above) fly-by, it was the paler birds that had us intrigued.
Luke on Hills, 7-31-13_edited-2

We thought the combination of a bright orange chest, and a fair amount of orange between the legs and on the undertail coverts, compared with the paler face and lightly, but distinctly spotted flanks and side (especially the side of the breast) of this bird made it look “good.”
DSC_0234_HendersoniiSBDO-pale,HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1

But we were pondering how extensive of color a hendersonii “needs” to have, as most of the individuals of the expected Eastern subspecies griseus, also were showing at least a touch of peachy-orange color in the undertail, etc.
DSC_0254_SBDOs,HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1

Here are some typical, and typically variable, griseus for comparison.
DSC_0236_SBDOs,HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1 DSC_0239_SBDOs,HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1 DSC_0250_SBDOgriseus,HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1

In the end, we simply said, “who knows!?”  and went back to photographing other fun stuff, such as this Bonaparte’s Gull…
DSC_0228_BOGU_HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1

And this juvenile Roseate Tern…which was actually one of my targets to photograph today.
DSC_0218_ROST-juv1,HillsBeach,7-31-13_edited-1

Ok, so we really quit on the Big Day attempt by about 10:33 in the morning, but 14 species of shorebirds included Stilt Sandpiper, American Oystercatcher, and two hendersonii Short-billed Dowitcher, along with two Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret hybrids, White-faced Ibis, Tricolored Heron, a mid-summer marsh Merlin (these birds have simply got to be breeding in coastal Cumberland County!), it was hardly a bad day of birding.  In fact, it was actually a spectacular day!

Biddeford in Shorebird Season

“Shorebird Season” is in full swing, and the greater Biddeford Pool area is one of the best places in the state to observe and study shorebirds.  Although numbers usually pale in comparison to the Lubec Flats and Scarborough Marsh, and diversity usually lags well behind the latter as well, the area often provides some of the best opportunities to study shorebirds, between Ocean Avenue and Biddeford Pool beach on the high tide, and Hill’s Beach at low tide.

Today, Phil McCormack and I birded the area thoroughly, beginning with viewing of the extensive mudflats of The Pool itself.  Birds were already well dispersed by the time we arrived this morning, so it was a challenge to really study and sort through the masses, but our tally was as follows:
196 Short-billed Dowitchers
~75 Semipalmated Sandpipers
57 “Eastern” Willets (plus one distant bird that may have been a “Western”)
~ 20 Black-bellied Plovers
~10 Semipalmated Plovers
4 Whimbrels (first of fall for me)
4 Least Sandpipers
2 Greater Yellowlegs
1 Lesser Yellowlegs
1 Ruddy Turnstone

At dead low, Biddeford Pool Beach was shorebird-free (which is often the case, as birds take advantage of the ephemeral mud and sand flats of The Pool and Hill’s Beach), but as we birded the neighborhood and Ocean Avenue, we picked up a few birds of note, led by 2 breeding-plumaged Red-necked Grebes.  Three Black-crowned Night-Herons and a few migrant passerines such as two Eastern Kingbirds and an Indigo Bunting were also noted.

As the tide began to turn, we headed over to Hill’s Beach, and hit it perfectly!  Here, the rapidly approaching water pushed birds towards us, and concentrated them in the highest spots for last-minute feeding.  We were able to carefully and critically sort through each individual, checking for rarities and studying variation.  Our effort turned up a few “good” birds, led by a trio of “Hendersonii” Short-billed Dowitchers (the prairie subspecies), a fairly-rare-but-regular stray to Maine.

The third bird we found, was the brightest of the lot, and was very obvious with its rufous coloration throughout its underparts.
HendersoniiSBDO1,HillsBeach,7-28-13_edited-1 HendersoniiSBDO1a,HillsBeach,7-28-13_edited-1
 (Phone-scoped Photos)

The other two were quite a bit paler, so were a little tougher to tease out.   I managed a crummy photo of one of them.
HendersoniiSBDO2,HillsBeach,7-28-13_edited-1
(Phone-scoped Photo).

Another highlight was a single adult Stilt Sandpiper, along with an adult Red Knot.  The complete tally was as follows:
119 Semipalmated Sandpipers
114 Short-billed Dowitchers (ssp griseus)
6 Black-bellied Plovers
3 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS (ssp HENDERSONII)
2 Ruddy Turnstones
2 Sanderlings
2 Least Sandpipers
1 STILT SANDPIPER
1 Red Knot

So if the shorebird show was quite good, the tern show was simply great.  At least a hundred Common Terns, including many begging juveniles were present, along with at least 30 Roseate Terns.  A few Least Terns also joined the fray, including this adult standing watch on its fledgling.
LETEwFL,HillsBeach,7-28-13_edited-1
(Phone-scoped photo).