Yearly Archives: 2020

Dec 262020

Mutes Swans

New England can be easily divided into two regions.  Its northern states (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) and southern states (Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) can be thought of as rural (up north) and urban (down south). Winters are colder up north; south is more liberal and for the sake of this blog . . […]

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Dec 232020

Dickcissel

As 2020 mercifully comes to an end, it’s really difficult to add a new bird to one’s checklist.  Migration is long over and while there are one or two rarities still kicking around (i.e. the Rock Wren in Maine) they have already been recorded weeks ago. Suddenly late yesterday evening a Dickcissel was reported at […]

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Dec 152020

Purple Sandpiper

When I think of sandpipers, I used to think of warm summer beaches, watching little birds running along the surf . . . beach blankets, suntan oil and cold beer. That was all before I became a birder and I began to understand the different kinds of peeps, different migration patterns and food supply. Which […]

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Dec 112020

Wedding Crashing for a Western Tanager

So this afternoon, the report of a juvenile female Western Tanager was confirmed at the Cliff House, a premier resort in Ogunquit, Maine.  I was a good 90 minutes away and I’d only have about 45 minutes of daylight once I arrived. Naturally, I hit traffic and I thought about giving up . . . […]

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Dec 92020

Eagles move to the coast

Ingrid and I live on the coast of Maine and each December Bald Eagles arrive in mass . . . as the inland lakes freeze over and the Eagles move to open water to fish. I got this beauty this afternoon at Reid State Park beach. I also saw this Rough-legged Hawk. these Sanderlings. and […]

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Dec 32020

Northern Harrier

There are certain birds that take my breath away . . . that every time I see one, I’m amazed and riveted by the sight. The Northern Harrier, sometimes referred to as the Gray Ghost, is one such bird.  It’s ability to glide, just a few feet off the ground for long periods of time, […]

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Nov 2820202 comments

Rock Wren in Maine

This morning about 8:30 I got my first text . . . a Rock Wren was feeding on ocean rocks in the parking lot of an Ogunquit, Maine restaurant.  I was in the car 10 minutes later. A Rock Wren is a bird of the arid American West.  It is so adapted for the desert […]

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Nov 182020

Pine Grosbeaks

If you travel to University of Maine’s main campus in Orono, drive past the fraternities, the football field, the academic building and the long term parking and you’ll find the “Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden.” Littlefield is world renown for 2,500 woody and herbaceous plants, including 180 lilacs, 150 rhododendrons, 35 magnolias and especially is crabapple trees […]

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Nov 142020

Rare Feeder Visitors

One of the great things about the Birding Community (especially the Maine Birding Community) occurs when a rare bird visits a residential feeder. The homeowner will post visiting directions (park on left side of road, stand behind swing set, etc.) and the Birding crazies will respectfully arrive (wearing masks), wait for the bird . . […]

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Nov 102020

Short-eared Owl

This morning, right after dawn and in heavy fog, I was walking through a blueberry barren when right in front of me a large owl exploded into the air.  I was startled and didn’t get my camera up before the bird disappeared into the fog. Disappointed I continued to hike up the hill when suddenly […]

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Oct 282020

Rufous Hummingbird

Its been quite a week for rare birds in Maine as a Golden-crowned Sparrow appeared in Abbott, a Western Kingbird in Freeport and yesterday a Rufous Hummingbird showed up on a feeder in Yarmouth.  Like the other rarities, the Rufous is is on the wrong side of the country.  They breed in Alaska, the coast […]

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Oct 252020

Common Redpoll

Ran into a flock of Common Redpolls in Freeport today . . . another bird pushed south into Maine from Canada due a sparse cone crop in our northern neighbor’s massive spruce forest. (happens every 4 or 5 years). I was sitting on a stump when I heard them . . . just 25 yards […]

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Oct 252020

Western Kingbird

Today was honey-do day at the Whitaker Estate.  Store summer tires, remove screens, set up humidifiers, fill bird feeders, wash windows . . . basically summer is over and get ready for a Maine winter. Then a Western Kingbird was reported in Freeport . . . a bird rarely seen west of the Mississippi . […]

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Oct 232020

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Four years ago, Ingrid and I were visiting our son in La Grange, CA . . . a town in cow country.  Not long after arriving, I noticed bird on a tree branch in his front yard – it was a lifer, a Golden-crowned Sparrow. In subsequent trips to the west coast, we saw this […]

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Oct 172020

Lapland Longspur

With two weeks to retirement I made a commitment to work really hard and get an important project completed.   Of course that is before I heard there was a Lapland Longspur in a neighboring town . . . it shouldn’t take long. Upon arriving, I startled the Longspur and it circled me three times […]

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Oct 152020

Great Shearwater

Spent Monday’s holiday out on a Mid-October pelagic trip (off the coast of Maine). A couple hours out . . . it was very cold and rough. Saw hundreds of Great Shearwaters. This bird only comes to land to breed (on islands in the South Atlantic). The rest of its life is spent on the […]

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Oct 82020

Peregrine Falcon

Out early yesterday morning looking for sparrows that are starting to migrate through in big numbers. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye was a fast  moving shadow coming right at me.  I swung the camera around a got some great shots of a Peregrine Falcon flying right over me. Scare the hell out […]

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Oct 52020

Red-headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed Woodpecker was once relatively common from New York to Florida and then to the mid-west.  But their population has been declining for many years due to habitat loss and a habit of flying into cars as they dash into the road to catch insects. But they have never been common in Maine and […]

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Oct 22020

Pine Siskins Return in Numbers

During the winter of 2017, our bird feeders were invaded by hundreds of Pine Siskins.  These birds look so much like gold finches that if they had visited before I got the birding bug . . . I may never have noticed but in 2017 I realized it was something special.  The last one left […]

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Oct 22020

Sparrow Migration Season Has Begun

When I started birding . . . all sparrows looked alike.  They were brown, with stripes on their head and bellies . . . and they all looked alike.   Slowly, very, very slowly I’ve been able to tell the difference and now look forward to the sparrows moving south in the fall. Today I […]

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Sep 262020

No Say’s Phoebe

Yesterday evening after a long day at work for both of us, Ingrid told me that every birder in Maine had picked up a Say’s Phoebe in New Gloucester a rural community in central Maine.  We had both seen Say’s Phoebes in Texas, Arizona and California (photo above) . . . but it is rarely […]

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Sep 162020

The Camera Helps

Ingrid and I have a saying . . . “The camera giveth and the camera taketh away”.  By that we mean, the camera can help you find a bird you could never recognize with the naked eye and other times  makes you realize the incredibly rare bird you just saw was a relatively common visitor. […]

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Sep 152020

Peeps

Sunday morning I was up early to chase shorebirds at Popham Beach.  It was an amazing experience where I counted 300 Sanderlings, Black-bellied Plovers, an American Golden-Plover, Dunlins, Baird’s Sandpiper, both Semipalmateds, a Western Sandpiper, and both Yellow-legs. Peeps everywhere and very tame … one Sanderling walk between my legs.

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Sep 122020

Sometimes You Get Lucky

Some days you get very lucky. This morning I was driving by the back bay in our home town in Wiscasset when I saw an unusually large bird in with the usual peeps.  It was an American Golden-Plover . . . one of the great migrators. They breed in the Arctic and winter in Hawaii […]

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Sep 52020

Common Nighthawks

Yesterday on a lovely late summer evening Ingrid and I decided to take casual non-birding stroll around East Boothbay’s Ocean Point, a classic New England seafront neighborhood. After I few minutes we noticed a few Common Nighthawks flying over us . . . then more . . . and more . . . and more. […]

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