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 the ocean was smooth.  Nothing but still water in all directions.

Suddenly I saw this little yellow bird flying toward the boat  . . . this wasn’t the expected giant seabird with a six foot wingspan . . . this looked like a warbler . . . a bird that eats caterpillars out of birch trees.  What was it doing forty miles out at sea?

The mystery bird circled the boat once and then headed on its way.   This morning I reviewed the photos and consulted some birding friends and we all agreed . . . it was a Yellow-breasted Chat.  A warbler like bird that is rarely found north of New Jersey and generally feeding in the shrubbery.  Mind boggling on how and why this tiny bird was flying around the Gulf of Maine.

Then a few minutes later a Peregrine Falcon flew over the boat . . . again . . . a bird that does not belong on the open ocean.

This is why I love birding so much . . . you never know what surprises you’ll encounter.

I also saw a Great Skua, Maine Big Year Bird #307.

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