Yearly Archives: 2021

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 . […]

Read More

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”. […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Aug 122021

Rufous Hummingbird

NOTE: THIS POST WAS WRITTEN ON AUGUST 1 BUT HELD UNTIL TODAY . . . READ ON TO FIND OUT WHY!!!! A couple days ago . . . Ingrid and I drove two and half hours north to Bar Harbor for a Whale Watch (excellent birding on Whale Watches) and it was canceled due to […]

Read More

Aug 112021

Black-legged Kittiwake

Yesterday Ingrid and I came upon a flock of Black-legged Kittiwakes sitting on a rock outcrops off the Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec.  Lubec is the eastern most point in the United States and believe it or not, is the closer to Africa than Florida (I don’t understand that either but apparently its true). The […]

Read More

Aug 520212 comments

American Three-toed Woodpecker

  Back in January I stood with a group of birder in ankle deep snow trying to stay warm as we waited for a rare Black-headed Grosbeak to appear.   A birder who set the Maine Big Year record back in 2011 was providing me helpful hints . . . when he came to the one […]

Read More

Jul 262021

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Most of us are familiar with bird migration, the annual travel of various species from their wintering grounds to their breeding territory.  Generally this means they travel north in the spring and south in the fall. But a few perform counter-intuitive post-breeding migrations . . . traveling in a direction that is difficult to explain. […]

Read More

Jul 172021


Yesterday’s adventure in pointless bird counting took Ingrid and I back out to sea to find Shearwaters. These long winged seabirds spend their entire lives on or over the world’s oceans except when they come to land to nest and raise their young. Shearwaters are some of the world’s longest migrants . . . traveling […]

Read More

Jul 112021

Red-billed Tropicbird

What two verbs characterize a Big Year? Travel and Wait Travel and Wait Travel and Wait Last January I stood in the freezing cold for a cumulative 10 hours before a Black-headed Grosbeak showed up in a Portland park. In May I drove five hours to Lubec (the eastern most point in the USA) and […]

Read More

Jul 72021

Katahdin Woods and Waters

Yesterday, Ingrid and I visited Katahdin Woods and Waters . . . 87,000 acres of forestland in Northern Maine.  In 2016, President Obama made it a US National Monument under the Antiquities Act (I have no idea what that is). What I do know: its declaration as a national monument was quite controversial, moving a […]

Read More

Jul 22021

Maine Big Year – Half Over

  It’s the beginning July and we’re at the halfway point of my Maine Big Year . . . six months to go. Bird #1 was an hour before sunrise on New Years Day . . . a Great Horned Owl calling at the Grange Hall Parking Lot in Cape Elizabeth. Bird #286 was June […]

Read More

Jun 232021

Little Egret

If you regularly pass a marsh, a pond or swamp along the U.S. coastline you’re probably are familiar with the Snowy Egret . . . a graceful two foot tall bird with black bill and legs, yellow feet, and beautiful white feathers. Large flocks are common and Snowy Egrets are not particularly afraid of humans. […]

Read More

Jun 222021

Disputed Territory

This morning (to celebrate our anniversary) Ingrid and I took a boat out to Machias Seal Island to see . . . you guessed it . . . birds!!! Machias Seal Island is located 10 miles off the Maine Coast and 50 kilometers off the coast of Nova Scotia. For those of you that didn’t […]

Read More

Jun 162021

No Tropicbird

In the spring of 2005, a Red-billed Tropicbird, a stunning white bird with a bright red bill and a long streaming tail was seen in the cold waters off the Maine coast.  Thousands of miles off-course . . . this bird normally prowls the seas off the Lesser Antilles. It was seen off and on […]

Read More

Jun 132021


With the pandemic winding down, date night has returned to America . . . dinner and a movie. For the Whitakers, last night was dinner . . . then a 90 minute drive . . . followed by a five mile hike, down a scary road, in pitch black, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded […]

Read More

Jun 112021

Climbing Saddleback

I know, I know . . . you’re expecting a photo of a cute warbler . . . or a stunning raptor . . . or a rarity that has inexplicably appeared in Maine.  Nope, today you’re getting a selfie of MOI!!!! The Bicknell’s Thrush holds a special place in the hearts of the Maine […]

Read More

Jun 82021

Out to Sea

When planning a Big Year . . . it’s easy to forget the deep sea birds . . . these are the most mysterious and the hardest to find.  To have a shot at the Maine State Record (317), I’ll need to get almost all of of the deep sea birds . . . and […]

Read More

Jun 420213 comments

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

There have been a number of books (and a movie) about Big Years, and a running theme is the stress they put on a relationship. Fortunately, unlike most of the spouses and partners in these books . . . Ingrid is also a Birder and often she wants to get the bird just as much […]

Read More

Jun 12021

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Nest

Back in mid-April, I got a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Kittery . . . Maine Big Year bird # 178.  Forty days and 94 birds, later I hadn’t seen another one.  Normally this wouldn’t bother me too much . . . except my wife hasn’t seen her first Gnatcatcher of the year . . . and […]

Read More