Rushing Around

Blue Grosbeak

A Maine Big Year during migration season is chaotic as we rush from place to place looking for one rare bird at a time. I say we, because Ingrid is with me on many of my excursions (when she isn’t teaching her 4th grade cherubs).

Most of the easy birds have been checked off but there are so many birds moving through the state that we are constantly making decisions:

  • How rare is the bird or can we get it later in the year
  • How long does it take to get to the bird’s location
  • Will the bird still be there when we arrive (this flying habit can be annoying)

Case is point, on Friday I took the Ferry out to Monhegan Island to find the Blue Grosbeak that has been hanging around the brewery for the previous few days. A Blue Grosbeak, whose northern most breeding range is New Jersey, usually is seen in Maine once or twice a year. It was 90 minutes to get to the Ferry; the ocean crossing was 60 minutes and that would give me five hours to find the bird, before I had to be on the return ferry.

I needed every minute as finally found the female bird at the last possible moment before I had to jog back to the boat landing.

As I was riding back to the “Maineland”, I received two text messages from birding friends that a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (a South American bird that is really, really lost) was on a beach in Kennebunkport and a Prothonotary Warbler (swamps of the American South) was in a park in South Portland.

When I got home to Wiscasset, Ingrid and I decided it was too late to chase either bird so we gambled that they’s still be around on Saturday.

The next morning, after an 80 minute ride, the Fork-tailed Flycatcher was feeding on decaying seaweed bugs about a quarter mile from where we parked the car.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

And 90 minutes later we found the Prothonotary Warbler singing away near an old wooded footbridge.

Prothonotary Warbler

Can’t say we guess right every time, but we got lucky the last few days.

Maine Big Year Bird Count #: 265.

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