It’s been a crazy two weeks! Other than two wonderful weekends on Monhegan – personal and professional – and an incredibly Sandy Point Morning Flight last week, my birding has been seriously limited. With the weather pattern and so many rarities around, this was frustrating, but as of today, we have (mostly) completed our move from Pownal to Durham.
Monhegan Island, 9/22-9/26. Highlights included 1 LARK SPARROW, 6 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, 3 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS, 2 DICKCISSELS, 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 16 species of warblers, and an insane falcon show. Complete Tour Report and daily checklist here.
Sandy Point Morning Flight, 9/29: 6,183 migrants of 69 species highlighted by 1 BLUE GROSBEAK, 20 species of warblers, and my 195th all-time patch bird in 2 high-flying Little Blue Herons! It was a great enough day to deserve its own blog, which can be found here.
1 Brown Thrasher, here at the store, 9/29. Our second ever in the garden here.
Pownal Morning Flight, 9/30: 289 individuals of 29 species. Complete list here. Our last morning flight at our old property, with a final yard list of 136.
Monhegan Island, 9/30-10/2 with Jeannette. We were here for a friends’ event, so birding was not always the priority. Nonetheless, we had some good birds included the continuing juvenile RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, at least one continuing CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and DICKCISSEL, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, our first coastal Pine Siskin of the fall, a late Veery, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in every apple tree, warblers on the ground, and a big Yellow-rumped Warbler morning flight on the 1st.
I arrived on the island on Thursday (9/22). Be happy that the tour didn’t start this day. It rained. A Lot. However, I was greeted by 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Smuttynose Island upon my arrival: 5 adults and 1 juvenile. It turned out to be one of the highest counts ever on the island. That would also turn out to be my birding highlight of the day, as a short jaunt in the afternoon only yielded one species that I would not end up seeing with the group: a juvenile Ring-billed Gull, which is actually a very uncommon bird out here.
The sunset, however, was worth the trip, and the clearing skies foretold some good birding to come.
Overnight, a moderate migration on clearing skies brought many new birds to the island. The group met at 9:00, and we picked up the rest of the day’s participants as their ferry arrived. It was very windy today, but all day long, whenever we found a pocket of shelter, we found birds. It was mostly Yellow-rumped and Blackpoll Warblers, as expected for the date, but there was a decent smattering of diversity.
Between the winds and the raptors, birds were keeping low though! But speaking of raptors – wow, the falcon show! It was incredible. There is absolutely no way of knowing how many Peregrine Falcons and Merlins we saw today, with birds whipping by overhead. Some were hunting, and likely circling the island to do so, but it’s also possible that there was a steady flow of birds moving south, only pausing to wink at the island. It was impossible to quantify, but it was a whole lot of fun to watch!
We enjoyed quality time with Cedar Waxwings, Monarch butterflies, and enjoyed some gorgeous Question Mark butterflies as well. White-crowned Sparrows were rather conspicuous, and we had a good lesson in duck identification with Mallards, an American Black Duck, and a hybrid thereof all side-by-side.
Wind was whipping all night long and continued to gust well over 20mph as of sunrise. With a high-pressure system building in, and powerful Hurricane Fiona passing well to our east, the wind would just not let up. Several ferries were cancelled, and if you happened to be in the room that a screen door was slamming up against all night (ahem), then maybe you were not as rested as you would have liked.
The Gray NEXRAD radar was down, but the Caribou station showed a moderate flight of birds overnight with marginally lighter winds over the mainland. A light morning flight – mostly strong-flying Blackpoll Warblers – didn’t portend a lot of birds had arrived, but pockets of White-throated Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers in places where they weren’t yesterday suggested otherwise. In fact, there were a bunch of birds around, and it was a very productive morning!
We visited with two cooperative Dickcissels that have been around for days, caught up with the lingering Lark Sparrow, and were among the lucky ones who caught up with an early Orange-crowned Warbler. All before lunch.
And while the wind continued to gust, and uncountable falcons continued to wreak havoc, anytime we found a corner of shelter, we found birds – and often lots of them! White-throated Sparrows littered the woods, and because of the wind, many birds were insanely easy to see.
One of the highlights were warblers on the ground – hatches of large flies were feasting on rotting apples below laden trees, and with no flying insects able to survive a foot into the air today, we spent a lot of time looking DOWN at warblers.
Finally, as dusk fell, the winds subsided. Unfortunately, by early nightfall, the winds were already a little more westerly than we would have liked. Come Sunday morning, a surprisingly light morning flight, dominated by Yellow-rumped Warblers almost exclusively, reflected the lack of the northerly component overnight. Birds seemed to be in lower quantities overall – a lot of Blackpoll Warblers had apparently departed – and with calm conditions (so, so welcome), there were fewer concentrations of birds.
Throughout the day, it was relatively slow by Monhegan standards, but we just kept adding new species to the triplist, and basking in repeated stellar views. The two Dickcissels were in their usual place throughout the day, a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull continued, and later in the morning we found a Marsh Wren – very uncommon out here.
In the afternoon, we had a splendid sparrow session. We had our longest looks yet at the Lark Sparrow, but after a report of one Clay-colored Sparrow at the same spot, we arrived to find three! A Lincoln’s Sparrow even came out into the open to join the Song, Chipping, White-throated, White-crowned, and Savannah Sparrows, making for an impressive total of 7 species of sparrows from one spot! Of course, the comparative experience makes all the difference in learning these species – as most look so very different from each other. Well, most of them did, anyway! A solid 76 species were tallied by day’s end.
The last day of the tour was Monday the 26th, and our time was winding down. So were the number of non-Yellow-rumped Warblers. Some light showers overnight may have put a few birds down, but winds were southwesterly thereafter, and the Caribou radar (the Gray station was still down) showed little movement. The morning flight was therefore virtually non-existent.
We found an Indigo Bunting, and later, an Alder Flycatcher confused and disoriented, stuck in the ice cutting display building of the Monhegan Museum. Three Clay-colored Sparrows were still present; we had good looks at two of them at the school and had another session comparing them to the variety of ages of Chipping Sparrows they were cajoling around with. The Lark Sparrow also performed nicely for us again.
It felt very slow, especially in the afternoon, when we took time to enjoy Fringed Gentian and repeatedly “dip” on a Red-headed Woodpecker that most everyone except us had eventually seen. Yet interestingly, we kept finding new species for our day’s list, and by the time the tour ended in time to catch the 4:30 ferry to Port Clyde, we had accumulated our highest species total of the weekend – a goodly 81.
The apparent abundance of some species – such as White-breasted Nuthatch, which we conservatively estimated included the presence of 4-6 pairs despite apparent omnipresence and Blackpoll Warblers on the ground – continued to impress as well.
With today’s new additions along with Laughing Gulls on our ferry ride back, our total trip listed amounted to 95 species! So despite the strong winds that howled for the first two days of the tour, and unfavorable southerly winds for the last day and a half, our 95 species was exactly average for the 11 years we have run the trip on this same weekend. 16 species of warblers was a mere one species below average. Taking our challenging weather into consideration, I would absolutely call this a win! Plus, we were on Monhegan, so all is well, as an average day/weekend on Monhegan sure beats the same anywhere else – for so many reasons.
* denotes ferry ride only
23-Sep 24-Sep 25-Sep 26-Sep
There are some Morning Flights at Sandy Point that deserve their own blog. This was one of those. (I also haven’t finished my Monhegan Tour report blog yet, either).
Let’s start with the 1:00am reflectivity and velocity images from the Gray NEXRAD station. I was very happy that the station was back online in time for this incredible large flight. In fact, it was one of the densest flights I have seen in the area, and you can see how much biomass was offshore.
That got my pretty darn excited for the morning. And, well, it was a lot of fun! OK, mostly…at times I was overwhelmed and early on, I just felt beat! For the first 30 minutes, I often just clicked waves of “unidentified” as I tried to keep pace. Luckily, after the massive early rush, the flight became more manageable, although bursts of activity were barely quantifiable.
20 species of warblers, a very rare Blue Grosbeak, and my 195th all-time Sandy Point birds: 2 Little Blue Herons! It was quite a day.
Thanks to Evan Obercian, I learned a ton and had some great species tallies. I have no doubt that some of the records set (e.g. 2nd-highest tally for Cape May Warbler) came from his exceptional auditory skills – some of those birds would have just went unidentified or not even detected by me! Of course, the more eyes (and ears) the better, and Reed Robinson and Weston Barker – splitting time on the “flicker clicker” and pointing out birds landing below – helped immensely as well. Assistance was critical today.
When Evan and I finally departed for desperately needed bagels and coffee at 11:45, there were still a few birds on the move. With some raptors in the air, I am sure that if we didn’t leave then, I would be there all day. I wish I could have been, because this morning was simply awesome. Here’s the scoreboard:
6:36 to 11:45am
With Evan Obercian, Reed Robinson, and Weston Barker.
50F, mostly clear, WNW 4.5-5.1 to NW 13.3-16.1
1,036 Yellow-rumped Warblers (*2nd highest)
449 Northern Parulas
374 Ruby-crowned Kinglets (*3rd highest)
286 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (*new record)
251 Northern Flickers
155 Blackpoll Warblers
138 Eastern Phoebes (*new record. Previous high of 26! And this was very conservative as many were swirling, too. But at times, steady pulses of 2-6 were clearly crossing)>
105 Black-throated Green Warblers
93 American Robins
75 White-throated Sparrows
71 Black-and-white Warblers (*new record)
65 Red-eyed Vireos (*new record)
64 Red-breasted Nuthatches (*new record)
58 Magnolia Warblers
57 Cedar Waxwings
44 Blue Jays
41 Dark-eyed Juncos
33 American Goldfinches
31 Blue-headed Vireos (*2nd highest)
26 American Redstarts
25 Cape May Warblers (*2nd highest)
25 Black-throated Blue Warblers
25 Purple Finches
23 Chipping Sparrows
22 Rusty Blackbirds
22 Nashville Warbler (*2nd highest)
22 Broad-winged Hawks
18 Tennessee Warblers (*3rd highest)
18 Golden-crowned Kinglets
16 Palm Warblers
12 Scarlet Tanagers
9 Yellow Warblers
8 Savannah Sparrows
7 Swainson’s Thrushes
7 American Kestrels
7 Turkey Vultures
6 White-breasted Nuthatches (*tied highest)
5 Baltimore Orioles
4 Philadelphia Vireos
4 Bay-breasted Warblers
4 Black-capped Chickadees
3 Brown Creepers
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
2 Chestnut-sided Warblers
2 Orange-crowned/Tennessee Warbler
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
2 Eastern Wood-Pewees
2 Sharp-shinned Hawks
2 juvenile LITTLE BLUE HERONS (**high fly-overs. My first record for Sandy Point and Patch Bird #195.)
2 Lincoln’s Sparrows
2 White-crowned Sparrows
1 Pine Warbler
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Northern Harrier
1 Tufted Titmouse (did not cross after a few false starts)
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker (crossed after three false starts)
1 Common Loon
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Hairy Woodpecker (crossed after 8 false starts)
1 BLUE GROSBEAK (**My 3rd-ever at Sandy Point. Spotted by Evan, photographed by Weston Barker; photo below).
1 Common Grackle
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 American Pipit
1 Blackburnian Warbler
1 unidentified Empid
1 Downy Woodpecker (did not cross after 2 false starts)
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Ovenbird (in the woods; warbler #20!)
X Common Yellowthroat (I don’t try and count them in the brush here, but there were a lot around this morning and many more than there have been. None even attempted a crossing as usual).
Unlike last week, I was out birding plenty this week, including some of my favorite fall activities: Sandy Point and sorting through shorebirds. Here are my observations of note over the past seven days:
Morning flight over our Pownal yard, 9/10: 6:15-7:30am: 250+ warblers of at least 10 species, led by 40++ Northern Parulas and including 1 Bay-breasted and 2++ Cape May Warbler.
“Zeiss Day” Hakwatch right here at the store, 9/10 (with Rich Moncrief): 95 individuals of 11 species of raptors led by 21 Ospreys and 18 Broad-winged Hawks. Full count here.
20-25 Common Nighthawks, over our yard in Pownal at dusk, 9/10, and 5-10 on 9/11.
6 Northern Waterthrushes, 6 Swainson’s Thrushes, etc, Capisic Pond Park, Portland, 9/11 (with Down East Adventures Fall Songbird Workshop group).
How about we just fast-forward to Sunday? Sunday was delightful.
After two quiet days, which I will eventually confess to, we had a bunch of birds. And no fog. And colorful birds in good light. The pre-breakfast loop was actually downright great, with a good variety of warblers. One copse of trees alone featured 3 Blackburnian Warblers, 4+ Blackpoll Warblers, 2 each of Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula, American Redstart, and 1 Magnolia Warbler
It was nice and birdy after breakfast as well, with more Blackburnian fun, a single Cape May Warbler, and a nice birdy walk through the woods (Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, and House Wren singing one after another) to Whitehead where we actually got to see the ocean – and a Great Cormorant for those visiting from afar. Bird activity and birdsong was pleasantly consistent throughout the day, and in most places we visited.
We caught up with a continuing immature male Orchard Oriole for all to see, and while perhaps one could argue it was still fairly slow for Monhegan by Memorial Day Weekend standards, it was a lot better than Friday and Saturday! In fact, the 59 species and 11 species of warblers was more than the first two days combined. A few of us who stayed out late even got to see an American Woodcock as it displayed over Horn Hill at dusk. It was a good day.
Friday got off to a rocky start. Really rocky actually, as in few people were even able to keep their breakfast down on the two ferry rides. Dense fog and near-zero visibility resulted in virtually no birds being seen, and well, let’s just not talk about these boat trips anymore…it was one of the worst I have ever experienced on the way to or from. Thankfully, I am not predisposed to feeling how many people felt upon arrival, but it was still a challenge to shake it off, and all of us were moving slowly by day’s end.
Of course, it didn’t help that there were so few birds around! The huge wave of birds that arrived the previous weekend had cleared out, and nothing had arrived to take their place over the last few nights. With such strong winds, it was a challenge to find sheltered pockets, and when we did, we didn’t find many with many birds. Only Blackpoll Warblers were to be seen in numbers.
That being said, what we did see – especially the aforementioned Blackpolls and the continuing world’s most cooperative Black-billed Cuckoo(s) – we saw really well. A few of us even saw the Virginia Rail for a second. The dense fog also precluded scanning the water, so our checklist is even more pitiful for the day. Ring-necked Pheasants put on a show though, from confiding snazzy males to adorable little chicks.
I had hopes for Saturday – it really couldn’t be any worse than Friday anyway! – based on the forecast. However, only a light flight was detected on the radar overnight, despite light southerly winds. It was mostly cloudy, but I couldn’t help to wonder if we were just running out of migrants.
Rain that could have resulted in a fallout of what little was airborne overnight didn’t arrive until after sunrise, but it only caused a 20-minute delay to the start of the day. That was it though, and certainly we were lucky that Saturday was not the washout that was predicted as of a few days prior. It was still slow, but once again, we had exceedingly great looks at everything that we did encounter, including more quality cuckoo time, a stunning male Indigo Bunting that was just glowing in the soft light, Blackpoll Warblers, Northern Parulas, American Redstarts, and more colorful splashes to brighten another gray day. And it wasn’t raining.
But it’s hard to sugarcoat just how slow it was – like Mid-June-kinda slow. Luckily, the fog lifted just long enough to see some waterbirds, and we took advantage of that for an impromptu gull workshop.
A brief shower at dinnertime ushered in a cold front and skies began to clear at dusk, with the fog finally lifting. That led to the delightful Sunday I was talking about. And Monday wasn’t too shabby either, as we again started the day without fog, a very light wind, and evidence of some bird migration on the radar overnight. And, with the southwesterly flow continuing, we had even higher hopes for finding the “mega” that would make up for the so-far lackluster species list.
Starting the morning with a Black-billed Cuckoo sunning itself in a tree right in front of the Trailing Yew was a solid start, and there were more Eastern Wood-Pewees and a decent number of Blackpoll Warblers around. Again, a rather slow day by Monhegan standards, but we really had more great looks at everything we did see. Today’s magic tree was by the Ice Pond, with a pair of Blackburnian Warblers, a pair of Blackpoll Warblers, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and finally a Bay-breasted Warbler.
We also finally had some rarity excitement. First, a Spizella sparrow flushed in front of us and a very quick glimpse in the scope suggested a Clay-colored Sparrow, which is a great bird in the spring. But just to be sure, we searched for it, but to no avail. Luckily, its identity was confirmed the next morning went it put on a show in the exact same spot it didn’t want to return to today.
Later, a female Purple Martin made an appearance…OK, fine, I could not completely rule out a Gray-breasted Martin. I was trying.
The tour officially concluded in the afternoon, but Jeannette and I remained to enjoy a 24-hour vacation. Don’t worry, you didn’t “just miss” something, as all we had new in the afternoon was a Savannah Sparrow.
Also, don’t worry that you missed the day Monhegan legends are made of on Tuesday. You did not. It was still fairly slow, but we had a little uptick in diversity. The pulse of late-migrating flycatchers that I had expected finally arrived, there was a good Northern Gannet show off Lobster Cove in the morning, and a steady trickle of commuting Atlantic Puffins in a small sample of afternoon Lobster Cove seawatching.
We picked up three Willets well offshore to the south from Lobster Cove in the morning, eventually following them into the harbor where they landed for a spell. As for that “probable” Clay-colored Sparrow that was nagging me all afternoon and night, well, I am thankful that it returned to the exact same spot as where we first glimpsed it. I received a text that it had been observed, photographed, and confirmed by others, and it obligingly remained long enough for us to catch back up with it.
Overall, there were many fewer warblers around on Tuesday, likely as many of the passage migrants had departed overnight. But it would have been nice if this diverse day with several quality birds and good seawatching fell during the official tour!
The 11 species we added after the group tour ended therefore were as follows:
Red-bellied Woodpecker (where were you hiding these past 4 days?)
Furthermore, on the Hardy Boat back to New Harbor, we added 2 Red-necked Phalaropes (personal first-of-year) and a Razorbill. With those 13 species, we had a total of 88 species over the 5 days, with a couple of more “quality” birds and that would have produced a much more respectable tour list! But alas.
So yes, by Monhegan standards, it was a pretty slow weekend. In fact, the 75 species on Friday through Monday was a record low (by two) for this annual tour. 16 species of warblers wasn’t too bad (last year’s soaker only produced 10), and we had some great birds. We also had such good looks at so many things, especially those – like Black-billed Cuckoo – that just don’t give such great looks very often, let alone daily!
Here is the official trip list (not including the 13 additional species from Monday afternoon through Tuesday evening when we got off the boat in New Harbor):
If I was going to top last week’s spectacular week of migration, it was going to require a visit to Monhegan. And Monhegan definitely delivered, even if the largest number of birds this week moved over the weekend, before I arrived on the island. Here are my observations of note over the past seven days.
17 species of warblers, led by 16 Common Yellowthroats and 9 American Redstarts, but also including 5 Bay-breasted Warblers, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/21 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (FOY), Florida Lake Park, 5/21 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
15 species of warblers, led by 11 Common Yellowthroats and 8 Yellow-rumped Warblers, Florida Lake Park, 5/22 (with clients from Maine).
10 Common Nighthawks (FOY), our yard in Pownal, 5/22.
~40 Short-billed Dowitchers, flying high over our Pownal yard on 5/22 (with Jeannette). Interestingly, the third record for our yard of high spring migrants.
Three days on Monhegan with a client from India on 5/23 through 5/25 yielded 91 species and 18 species of warblers. Monday was incredible, with lots of diversity, lots of quality, and just incredible looks at everything. Blackpoll Warblers were by far the dominant migrant each day, as expected. Here are our daily highlights:
1 SANDHILL CRANE – I almost dropped my hand pie as this came cruising over the Trailing Yew, circled the meadow, and landed on the shoreline at a tidepool where observed by almost everyone on the island – birders and bird-curious alike. Photos above.
1 immature, I believe continuing, BROAD-WINGED HAWK.
1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo (FOY)
At least 4-5 Black-billed Cuckoos, including this incredible observation of such normally shy birds!
1 imm. male ORCHARD ORIOLE
1 EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL (FOY, and a self-found island bird from my bedroom!)
1 continuing SANDHILL CRANE. In the meadow in early morning before reportedly being observed later flying toward the mainland.
1 imm. male Orchard Oriole
1 continuing EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL (with client, Kristen Lindquist, Bill Thompson, and Jess Bishop).
1 leucistic (and nearly pure-white but with normal bare parts) Herring Gull.
1 female ORCHARD ORIOLE
1 Green Heron (FOY)
1 Wood Thrush
Our first pelagic with our partners Cap’n Fish’s Cruises out of Boothbay Harbor will run on Monday, June 6th. It includes a visit to Eastern Egg Rock and chumming deeper offshore. Info here: https://www.freeportwildbirdsupply.com/pelagics
For much of this spring, I’ve been lamenting about a “slow” week of migration, or a “trickle” of migrants, etc. That was NOT the case this week, as the floodgates finally opened. In fact, it was an incredible week of birding. The northern limits of a huge fallout greeted me on Monday morning. And then there was Friday at Biddeford Pool. It was epic. Unforgettable.
My observations of note over the past eight days included:
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
20 species of warblers, including 1 continuing Louisiana Waterthrush and 6 Bay-breasted Warblers (FOY), and led by 25+ Northern Parulas and 20+ Black-and-white Warblers, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette). Incredible morning; definitely the best morning of spring to date. Interestingly, this appeared to be about the northern limits of what was a significant coastal fallout from at least Eastern Massachusetts into southern Maine.
17 species of warblers, led by 18 Common Yellowthroats and 17 American Redstarts, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/17 (with client from Maine).
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet (getting late), Florida Lake Park, 5/17 (with client from Maine).
16 species of warblers, led by 24 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 15 American Redstarts, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/18 (with Jeannette). This was the first morning this season where there were more female than male passage migrants.
16 species of warblers, led by 24 Common Yellowthroats and 22 Yellow-rumped Warblers, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/19.
Biddeford Pool, FALLOUT, 5/20! This was insane. I was optimistic about conditions based on the overnight wind forecast and morning fog, but there was virtually nothing on the radar overnight. I almost didn’t go. I never expected to find this. Birds were everywhere. Every tree had warblers. Swainson’s Thrushes and Lincoln’s Sparrows were hopping around manicured lawns. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it was, but here are some of the highlights as I covered East Point, the neighborhood, and the Elphis Pond trails. All of my numbers are extremely conservative, as I attempted to judge the movement of birds between parallel streets, etc.
20 species of warblers led by 53 Common Yellowthroats, 44+ American Redstarts, 44 Yellow Warblers, and 43 Magnolia Warblers. I know these numbers are particularly low.
Thrushes! 43 Swainson’s Thrushes (FOY) and 8+ Veeries, but also…
1 BICKNELL’S THRUSH – shocking migrant vocalizing incessantly on path to East Point. Was still calling 3 hours later. Voice recordings and poor photo above. Rarely detected in migration away other than Nocturnal Flight Calls, this might have been my first ever confirmation in spring along Maine’s coast. Seems a little early, too. Photo above.
1 GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (FOY). My settings were off on the camera and the overall tone of this bird is not accurate! When I looked down at the camera to adjust, it dropped out of site. Called once.
1 SUMMER TANAGER, near Elphis Pond. Quick fly-by, and no red seen. Confident there was little or red on the upperparts. Not seen well enough to know if this was the bird that had been continuing in the area for a while or a different, possible female.
1 male ORCHARD ORIOLE, Elphis Pond. Often singing.
Amazing quantities of usually-uncommon migrants, such as: 15 Lincoln’s Sparrows, 15 Bay-breasted Warblers, and 11 Canada Warblers.
Other good tallies included 17 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 13 Least Flycatchers, and 4-6 Scarlet Tanagers.
Personal First-of-years also included 2 Cape May Warblers, 9 Tennessee Warblers, 3 Philadelphia Vireos, along with 2 Roseate Terns off Ocean Ave.
The bird that got away: an intriguing Empid that suggested Acadian in a brief view along Orcutt Ave. Could not relocate.
Meanwhile, my list of personal “first of years” this week before the Biddeford Pool fallout included the following:
4 American Redstarts, Essex Woods and Marsh, Bangor, 5/13.
2 Bobolinks, Essex Woods and Marsh, 5/13.
1 Virginia Rail, Essex Woods and Marsh, 5/13.
5 Wood Thrushes, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
1 Scarlet Tanager, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
3 Red-eyed Vireos, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
1 Black-crowned Night-Heron, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
1 Canada Warbler, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
1 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (a little on the early side), Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
4 Eastern Wood-Pewees, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
2 Blackpoll Warblers, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
6 Bay-breasted Warblers, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
1 Alder Flycatcher, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/17 (with client from Maine).
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 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.
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).
I don’t usually post my Sandy Point Morning Flight totals here, but today was more than worthy of a little something extra. After 8 nights with little or virtually migration (well, at least not a big flight on ideal winds), clearing skies and a light northwesterly breeze finally opened the floodgates. Here are the 1:00am reflectivity and velocity images, for example.
I am sure Monhegan – where I just spent 5 glorious days (despite the lack of a huge flight; more on that soon!) – was great, Sandy Point was just outstanding. In fact, it was my 3rd highest all-time flight!
Early on, clouds made everything into little black shapes as the intense flight proceeded at all levels. Wind, a cacophony of kinglets ringing in my ears, and the two loudest and most vociferous Tufted Titmice who just stayed screaming in the magic birch all conspired to further reduce my ability to identify birds. But mostly, waves of dozens at a time were simply clicked as “unidentified” as I tried to keep pace with quantifying the flight. Furthermore, there were at least 3-4 hunting Merling, a Cooper’s Hawk, and a Peregrine Falcon, which added to the swirling chaos. It was a challenge, that’s for sure. “I do this for fun?” I asked Matthew.
Here’s the scorecard from the Morning Flight of birds that passed over and through Sandy Point, Cousin’s Island, Yarmouth this am:
3 Swainson’s Thrushes – including two observed crossing.
3 Tufted Titmice
2 Scarlet Tanagers
2 unidentified vireos
2 Yellow Warblers
2 Red-breasted Nuthatches
2 Tennessee Warblers
2 American Goldfinches
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Pine Warbler
1 White-crowned Sparrow
1 Broad-winged Hawk
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Hermit Thrush
1 unidentified Catharus
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
X Common Yellowthroats
1 YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO – my 7th all-time here. Made 4 “false starts” before crossing at 10:04am.
For a grand total of 5,487 birds, my *3rd highest all-time count. So yes indeed, birds have very much been backed up.
Meanwhile, adding to the excitement (and chaos) this morning was a massive feeding frenzy of Double-crested Cormorants and gulls. While I am sure a few migrants snuck by overhead, I couldn’t help but take a few moments to enjoy it…and make sure there were no rarities among the gulls! 15-20 Laughing Gulls and 4 Bonaparte’s Gulls joined 75-100 Ring-billed Gulls in snatching the baitfish that the Double-crested Cormorants had pushed right up onto the sandbar as it slowly emerged from the tide. It was quite a show!