Yearly Archives: 2021

Dec 212021

Steller’s Sea-Eagle

Steller’s Sea-Eagle at a distance. Note the much smaller Bald Eagle The Steller’s Sea-Eagle is one of the world’s largest and rarest raptors.  A glacial relict, it evolved over several ice ages . . . breeding along the east Russian coast  and wintering in Korea, Japan and northern China.  Occasionally one is seen over Alaska’s […]

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Dec 32021

Gray Kingbird

Christmas is coming and I really haven’t done much shopping, so this morning I committed to no birding and jumped in the car with the best of intentions . .  . this year I’m not waiting till the last minute. Then a text came in from Ingrid: “Grey kingbird in Biddeford”. Ignoring her obvious spelling […]

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Nov 3020211 comment

Black-headed Gull

In July of 2018, Ingrid and I took a non-birding (gasp) motorcoach tour of Scotland. One day we drove through the coastal town of Leith . . . only memorable for two reasons. It was the birth place of the Proclaimers (I would roll 500 miles) and the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls sitting on every […]

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Nov 2620211 comment

Red-headed Woodpecker

One of the frustration of a Big Year is looking for the same bird day after day after day. It takes on a Captain Ahab mentality where you hate the bird but become obsessed with finding it. Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s […]

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Nov 212021

The Things One Finds Birding

The things one finds birding . . . This afternoon, Ingrid and I were out birding on Mackworth Island, a 40 acre, causeway accessible, wooded state park just north of Portland. In 1943, Maine Governor and Philanthropist Percival P. Baxter deeded the island to the state. The island is also home to the Governor Baxter […]

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Nov 1720211 comment

Tundra Swans

In October of 2020, three juvenile Tundra Swans landed on Little Ossipee Pond in south-central Maine.  Tundra Swans are smaller cousins of the Mute Swans that are so iconic in the Northeast (think of the Boston Public Gardens). Tundra Swans, breed on . . . I bet you can guess . . . THE TUNDRA!!!! […]

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Nov 720212 comments

Ash-throated Flycatcher

“It’s right there.” “Where?” “Right there on the gravestone.” “Still not seeing it.” “It’s close to the fence by the church.” “I see it!!!!” So thats how I got Maine Big Year Bird #318 as fellow birder Leon Mooney helped me get my eyes on an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Ninety minutes earlier, I got my first […]

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Nov 520212 comments

Barnacle Goose

So I’m sitting in the stands looking out at the football field. Someone is shouting: “He’s at the 30”, “He’s at the 35”, “The 40”, “The 45”, “Across Mid-field”!!!! No, I didn’t give up birding for a day to go to a High School Football Game . . . I was watching a super rare […]

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Nov 120211 comment

Golden Eagle

I think I saw my first Bald Eagle when I was about thirty. Back then, before the internet and indoor plumbing, DDT was prevalent in the environment making Eagles shells both thin and brittle . . . causing the eggs to shatter long before the eaglets were ready to hatch. After DDT was banned, the […]

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Oct 2520211 comment

Pink-footed Goose

One of the great things about a Big Year, and birding in general, you go places that you would never normally visit.  Ingrid and I have travelled all over the country chasing birds and found amazing sights, interesting food and fascinating people. This week, I made two trips to Limestone, Maine trying to find a […]

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Oct 112021

Pacific Loon

Throughout the Maine Big Year, Ingrid and I have spent quite a bit of time on ferries and whale watch boats trying to get at many of the seabirds that prowl the oceans off our coast.  Most of these birds live their entire lives at sea . . . only coming to land to breed […]

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Oct 52021

Problematic Bird Names

My year long quest to improve Exxon profitability took me to a wooded condo development in Kennebunk where a Red-headed Woodpecker, a Maine rarity, had been reported this morning. After few hours and no Red-headed Woodpecker, Ingrid texted wondering “perhaps they saw a ‘Red-bellied Woodpecker’ and were confusing the two birds.”   And as a […]

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Oct 120211 comment

Summer Tanager

A Big Year is 25% planning, 25% skill, 25% execution and 90% luck . . . I know the math doesn’t work but the events of yesterday made me realize how big a role luck is actually playing. I was in the field at dawn and spent about six hours looking for birds in Cape […]

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Sep 282021

Cackling Goose

In 2004, the birding community was rocked, when the American Ornithological Union (AOU) decided that the common everyday Canada Goose was actually two species: the large annoying bird that ruins golf courses and a smaller regional adaptation . . . the Cackling Goose. Basically, the Canada and Cackling Geese are almost identical . . . […]

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Sep 192021

Hudsonian Godwit

In mid-August, there was a report of forty Hudsonian Godwits flying around Hill’s Beach in Biddeford.  The Hudsonian Godwit is a bizarre looking shorebird . . . about 15″ tall, a rotund beer belly and a huge upturned bill.  It shows up in Maine during fall migration . . . but sporadically and inconsistently. I […]

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Sep 162021

Yellow-breasted Chat

If you take a boat out into the ocean, beyond the sight to land, the emptiness is breathtaking.  Yesterday, I was on a Bar Harbor whale watch and about two hours out the captain stopped the boat to look around.  The hurricane that had stirred up the seas over the weekend was long gone and […]

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Sep 142021

Bird Banding

Gray-cheeked Thrush . . . for a non-birder that name hardly would inspire a trek through the wood in the rain.  And to be honest, this brown/gray bird with spots is rather homely.  But I’ve been stuck at 306 (my Maine Big Year count) for ten days . . . so any new bird is […]

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Sep 32021

Lark Sparrow

Today, I was birding Laudholm Farm in Wells, over two thousand acres of shorefront, salt marsh, orchards, and hayfields. I covered and backtracked large areas of the preserve only to find Maine Big Year Bird #306 in the damn parking lot. I can’t tell you how often Ingrid and I will spend hours and hour […]

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Aug 302021

Upon Further Review

If you are a football fan and your quarterback makes an amazing touchdown pass . . . the crowd goes wild . . . then you notice a yellow flag on the field . . . holding. The touchdown is disallowed and you feel deflated. That happened to me today. This morning I was birding […]

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Aug 292021

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

SANDPIPER. The word brings forth an image of childhood with little birds running at the edge of the surf on a hot summer beach day. And that image is pretty accurate, as right now thousands of sandpipers and plovers are migrating through Maine, stopping to feed on coastal beaches. But there are other Sandpipers . […]

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Aug 262021

Tern! Tern! Tern!

Birders come in all shapes, sizes and ages.  There are old fogies (like myself), the academic ornithological types (“notice the rufous upper-wing coverts”), the matronly fanatics (made famous by Miss Jane Hathaway on the Beverly Hillbillies) . . . and then there are the young turks!!! This later group is made up of some amazing “kids”. […]

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Aug 1920213 comments

Pomarine Jaeger – #300

Yesterday was Wednesday and for Ingrid and me . . . it was another whale watch . . . this time out of Boothbay Harbor.  Once again we treated with the variety of sea birds moving around the boat and bored tourist (it can take several hours to get to the whales) peppering us with […]

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Aug 142021

South Polar Skua

Regular readers of my Maine Big Year Chronicles (Hi Uncle Bob and Aunt Avis), know how important sea birds are.  I’m not talking about the gulls and ducks that prowl the coastline . . . I’m talking about the great ocean going birds that live their entire lives at sea, often migrating halfway around the […]

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