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Birding Adventure

Birding Adventures

Read about our birding successes, failures and foibles. We don’t always see the bird, we don’t always identify it correctly . . . but we are always having fun!!

Blackpoll Warblers – Long Distance Migration

Blackpoll Warblers – Long Distance Migration
Blackpoll Warbler (Male) At lunch today I got out for about a half hour of birding and saw lots of Blackpoll Warblers. Sadly, these are some of the last warblers to move through Maine in the spring. They winter in South America and generally migrate north across the Gulf through Florida. From there they move...

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Setting up a Bird Drip

Setting up a Bird Drip
Black-throated Green Warbler at Drip Last Spring when Ingrid and I visited High Island, Texas . . . many of the birding sights had bird drips . . . and we knew we had to have one. A bird drip  provides a slow drip or stream of water into a ground level saucer.  The sound...

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Scarlet Tanager Putting on a Show

Scarlet Tanager Putting on a Show
I was looking for Warblers this morning when a beautiful Scarlet Tanager flushed out of the brush right in front of me. He flew up to a nearby tree and sang and sang and sang.  He actually kept getting closer and as I snapped photo after photo. Finally after about 10 minutes I returned to...

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Our first Magnolia Warbler in Two Years

Our first Magnolia Warbler in Two Years
Magnolia Warbler If you see any guide to common warblers in New England . . . the Magnolia Warbler is always displayed at the top of the guide. One would think the Magnolia would be seen regularly like the Common Yellowthroat or Yellow Warbler. Perhaps this was once true . . . but not in...

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May is the Best Month for Birding in Maine

May is the Best Month for Birding in Maine
Warbling Vireo Winter is over, flowers are blooming and birds are everywhere!!! Ingrid and I love Maine despite the long winters . . . but birding in the winter can get tiresome. There are points where one more raft of ducks makes one want to scream. The first migrating birds . . . the Red-winged...

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Birding trip to Plum Island

Birding trip to Plum Island
Yellow-throated Warbler May is a magical month for birders in New England. Like gardeners poring over seed catalogs in the depths of winter, birders dream of the colorful days of May when trees drip with warblers, the jewels of spring. As suddenly as warbler season begins it is just as suddenly over, making strategy key...

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Yellow-Rumped and Black & White Warblers

Yellow-Rumped and Black & White Warblers
Yellow-rumped Warbler auditioning for the Charlotte's Web Sequel After a brutal winter and a non-existent spring . . . it suddenly warmed up . . . reaching 80 degrees.  A quick pre-work excursion revealed the birds are as excited about the weather as Ingrid and I are. Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere.  Not a particularly unusual...

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The Great Greater Yellowlegs Influx

The Great Greater Yellowlegs Influx
Each fall, we see lots of Greater (and Lesser) Yellowlegs migrating through. The first travel will appear in mid August and we're still seeing them in October. But like a lot of shorebirds, they don't seem to dawdle in during their north bound spring migration . . . we might see one or two most...

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The Cusp of Spring Migration

The Cusp of Spring Migration
You can feel them coming . . . birds are moving north.  Our friends in High Island, Texas reported 23 different warblers yesterday.  Further north the mid-Atlantic hummingbird feeders are mobbed by Ruby-throated Hummers. But in Maine, we are just feeling the tip of the spear with early arrivers like Palm and Pine Warblers; a...

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Penny Lake in Boothbay Harbor

Penny Lake in Boothbay Harbor
This evening after work, Ingrid and I rushed over to Penny Lake in nearby Boothbay Harbor . . . a place where we've had great success during spring migrations.  Its still only April 24 so its early to see a lot of warblers . . . a bit like putting up the Christmas Tree before...

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Swamp Sparrow – Bird #200 of the Year

Swamp Sparrow – Bird #200 of the Year
With my replaced knee healing and the birds migrating through . . . I am anxious to get out in the field as much as possible.   In the unfortunate timing department, Ingrid's daughter and her boyfriend visited this weekend and for some strange reason Ingrid didn't think they'd enjoy plodding through cold wet marshes...

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First Warblers and Hermit Thrush Arrive in Maine

First Warblers and Hermit Thrush Arrive in Maine
It still doesn't feel much like spring in Maine . . . overcast, windy and cold . . . but the birds of spring continue to arrive. This morning I heard the musical chime like sound of a Hermit Thrush in the yard.  I looked around for a bit and found him posing on a...

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April 18, 2018 – Wilson’s Snipes

April 18, 2018 – Wilson’s Snipes
On the way back from a short afternoon meeting in a nearby town, Ingrid and I stopped at the Buffalo Ranch in Bath, Maine for a little birding. The Buffalo Ranch used to  . . .  you guessed it . . . have dozens of buffalo roaming through it's meadows.   Several years ago, the...

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Maryland Birding

Maryland Birding
My baby sister and her husband live in University Park, Maryland . . . just a few miles outside of our nation's capital.   Their neighborhood is a beautiful suburb of lovely homes all meticulously landscaped, lots of green space and several small streams.  This combination makes for terrific backyard birding. Saturday morning we woke...

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Fifty Degrees in Maine

Fifty Degrees in Maine
Tomorrow, Ingrid and I leave for the Washington DC area, to visit relatives, see the Cherry Blossoms and of course to see the migrating birds coming through. In anticipation, Ingrid and I went birding separately 50 miles apart (we both had long days at work and it was a balmy 50 degrees). Ingrid had sun...

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Winter Slowly Gives in to Spring

Winter Slowly Gives in to Spring
The snowiest March in memory, surgery recovery and the general demands of life have limited our birding since February. Yet there are signs of hope . . . the first Ospreys arrived in the area this week; a bunch of beautiful male Purple Finches suddenly appeared at our feeders this morning (first of year); and...

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March 28, 2018 – Greater White-fronted Goose

March 28, 2018 – Greater White-fronted Goose
Ingrid is a teacher, so nine months of the year . . . the idea of dropping everything to chase a rare bird is only a dream.  I’m fortunate to work at home and rather independently . . .  so I’ve been known to sneak out with binoculars and camera when there are birds to...

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Birding After Knee Replacement Surgery

Birding After Knee Replacement Surgery
Those of you that follow this website or use the Big Year Birding App know that we post to this site every couple days . . . namely because we are out Birding every couple days.   But we haven't posted in three weeks . . . here is why. I have a bad left...

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March 2, 2018 – Early Spring Arrivals

March 2, 2018 – Early Spring Arrivals
March is a cruel month in Maine. Our friends to the south are seeing daffodils; baseball spring training has begun; and the first Red-throated Hummingbirds have begun to cross the Gulf of Mexico. But in Maine, we still have snow on the ground, freezing weather and rafts of ducks. But the first early arrivals begin...

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February 24, 2018 – San Diego Big Day (110 Birds in a Day!!!)

February 24, 2018 – San Diego Big Day (110 Birds in a Day!!!)
After packing up the car to begin our journey home this evening, we were excited to get our San Diego Big Day – eleven straight hours of birding – underway. It was a chilly morning once again, but thankfully the temperature quickly rose to 61 degrees by 11:00 AM, and the fierce winds of the...

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February 23, 2018 – Vermillion Flycatcher (Birding the Mexican Border)

February 23, 2018 – Vermillion Flycatcher (Birding the Mexican Border)
We rose before dawn to begin our “Birding the Border” tour today. But then, what serious birding trip doesn’t begin with the human species rousing themselves from sleep before the avian? Wind and chill temperatures throughout the day kept the bird numbers low according to our guides, but you could not have proved that by...

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February 22, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 5)

February 22, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 5)
It was a chilly 39 degrees when we arrived at Lake Hodges for the “Dances with Grebes” guided walk. The grebes are Clark’s and Western’s. The western grebes do a courting ritual called ‘rushing’ that appears as dancing. We traveled down a winding trail, flat in placed and hilly in others through arid land with...

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February 20 & 21, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 3 & 4)

February 20 & 21, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 3 & 4)
The last two days have been getting to and resting up for the San Diego Birding Festival . . . which starts on tomorrow on February 22. Yesterday we has an 8 hour drive from La Grange to San Diego . . . a trip through almond groves, towering mountains and big city traffic jams.

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February 19, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 2)

February 19, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 2)
On day #2 in La Grange, California . . . we got down to some serious Birding. (Day 1) Ingrid went on a hilly 6 mile run in the morning and got a lifer . . . a Mountain Bluebird. I spend a couple hours walking the roads and meadows near our son and his...

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February 18, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 1)

February 18, 2018 – Maine Birders in California (Day 1)
As another 8 inches of snow was bearing down on the Northeast, Ingrid and I were cuddled up together in the back row of a United 757 jetting to California. We landed about 10:00 pm, jumped in the rental car and immediately started retracing our steps . . . driving due east for two and...

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February 16, 2018 – California Here We Come

February 16, 2018 – California Here We Come
Tomorrow Ingrid and I leave the frozen wasteland of Maine (can you tell that I'm sick of winter) for a week of birding in sunny California. The first few days will be in the eastern California near Yosemite and the later half of the week at the San Diego Birding Festival. Our outings will include:...

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January 29, 2018 – Snow Goose and Harlequin Ducks

January 29, 2018 – Snow Goose and Harlequin Ducks
With a late afternoon meeting in Southern Maine, I chauffeured Ingrid to work this morning and headed out to see what I could see. An uncommon Snow Goose being seen in Cape Elizabeth, I spent the early morning souring the inlets and fields for the Canada Geese flock where it had been mingling.  I had...

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January 25, 2018 – American Wigeon

January 25, 2018 – American Wigeon
It's January 25 and we have 58 birds this year . . . we've seen most of the easy January birds found in Maine . . . so it requires a little bit of work to add to our year list. Our trip to California next month (San Diego Birding Festival) and New England Spring

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January 20, 2018 – Lark Sparrow in Maine in January

January 20, 2018 – Lark Sparrow in Maine in January
If you live west of the Ohio River and its summer . . . you may see a Lark Sparrow in a field or meadow.  If you live in Maine during the winter . . . you may see a Lark Sparrow in Sibley's Guide to Birds.  In other words, a Lark Sparrow is a...

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January 19, 2018 – Glaucous Gull

January 19, 2018 – Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull Whenever one tries to improve oneself, be it playing tennis, learning French or birding . . . you concentrate on certain areas before moving onto something else.  For instance learning the conjugation of verbs, memorizing nouns and mastering pronunciation may be complimentary but its best to focus on one disipline at a time....

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January 16, 2018 – Three Brants in Maine

January 16, 2018 – Three Brants in Maine
The Brant is a long distance migrator. They breed north of the Arctic Circle and winter between Long Island Sound and South Carolina.  They are occasionally seen in Maine while moving through during migration . . . but don't stay very long. This winter, three Brants have taken up residence in Cape Elizabeth, Maine ....

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January 14, 2018 – Puffin Quilt and Eurasian Wigeon

January 14, 2018 – Puffin Quilt and Eurasian Wigeon
Last July 15, Ingrid and I took a Audubon sponsored pelagic trip to Eastern Egg Rock to see Atlantic Puffins, Razorbils and Terns. As usual we saw the charming little Puffins flying, fishing and posing . . . the clown bird!!! Atlantic Puffin with Fish Atlantic Puffin Atlantic Puffins Atlantic Puffins Atlantic Puffin Atlantic Puffin...

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January 11, 2018 – Day of the Tree Sparrow

January 11, 2018 – Day of the Tree Sparrow
Ever have one of those days that everywhere you look you see the same bird?  Today it was the Tree Sparrow. At lunch time today I set off for Durham, Maine . . . a Lark Sparrow was being seen at a feeder.  While the Lark Sparrow is a common species in the west during...

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January 10, 2018 – Red-throated Loon

January 10, 2018 – Red-throated Loon
Today we didn't go birding . . . but still got three FOY species , purely by happenstance. During a conference call, I caught a motion out of the corner of my eye.  When I looked up I was surprised to see Sharp-shinned Hawk on the ground about 10 feet away (it had apparently missed...

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January 9, 2018 – White-winged Scoter

January 9, 2018 – White-winged Scoter
White-winged Scoter For the first time in about three weeks it got above freezing . . . so I rushed to nearby Reid State Park for a little birding without worrying about frost bite.  Poor Ingrid was left teaching 4th grade (please don't tell her I went birding). Sea birds are generally pretty far out...

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January 7, 2018 – The Deep Freeze Continues

January 7, 2018 – The Deep Freeze Continues
The Polar Vortex, Bomb Cyclone and Frick'in Cold Weather has now been going on for over two weeks.  Thirteen below nights, eighteen below nights, fifteen below nights, 65 mph wind gusts, and twelve inch snow storms have led to frozen pipes, cancelled school, impassable roads and pretty damn lousy birding. Great Cormorant Long-tailed Duck Red-tailed...

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January 2, 2017 – Bald Eagle and Deer Carcass on Ice Floe

January 2, 2017 – Bald Eagle and Deer Carcass on Ice Floe
This morning I was on a business call (I work at home) when I saw three beautiful Bald Eagles flying up and the river excitedly. Eagles are quite common but usually they are soaring or perched high in the trees. Then I noticed a fourth Eagle, on an ice floe (in the winter large chunks...

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January 1, 2018 – Aborted Big Day

January 1, 2018 – Aborted Big Day
Maine (and the rest of the Northeast) is in the middle of a deep freeze.  We had a Christmas Day low of 3, followed by zero on the 26th, then, -9, -4, -16, -16 and -13 last night.  Tonight we are forecast to get hit with another -10 night.  This has led to frozen pipes, soaring...

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Our Favorite Birds of 2017

Our Favorite Birds of 2017
Our Favorite Birds of 2017 As Ingrid and I prepare for our annual New Years Day Big Day, we decide to look back at our favorite birds of 2017. The highlight of the our year in birding was our April Trip to the Gulf Coast of Texas where we picked up over 100 species in...

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December 23-27, 2017 – Winter arrives with a Vengeance

December 23-27, 2017 – Winter arrives with a Vengeance
It started snowing a couple days before Christmas and didn't stop for a couple days. Then the temperatures plunged to 10 degrees below zero at night.  Pretty damn miserable. Not surprisingly, our bird feeders are once again filled with hungry birds. For Christmas, Ingrid gave me an ingenious new suet feeder.  While I'm not sure...

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December 22, 2017 – Hooded Mergansers

December 22, 2017 – Hooded Mergansers
This morning I was getting in a little last minute Christmas Shopping in (we're expecting a couple days of wintery weather before Santa arrives) when I stumbled upon a couple beautiful Hooded Mergansers. Download the Free Big Year Birding App Big Year Birding USA & Canada iOS Big Year Birding Great Britain iOS Big Year...

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December 16, 2017 – Everything but a Red-necked Grebe

December 16, 2017 – Everything but a Red-necked Grebe
Long-tailed Duck Stuck on 274 birds for the year, Ingrid and I keep making excursions to get one more bird to get to 275.  There is nothing special about 275 (especially with half a dozen North American birders sitting around 760) . . . but it sounds like a nice number. One bird being seen...

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December 13, 2017 – Popham Beach

December 13, 2017 – Popham Beach
On a hot summer day, Popham Beach is mobbed. The enormous parking is filled to capacity. The line to get into the Park can stretch for a mile. All that changes during the winter. Today, with the exception of three Snow Buntings and a few other birds, I had the entire beach to myself. Snow...

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December 12, 2017 – Dark-eyed Junco

December 12, 2017 – Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Juncos are one of our more common birds but they rarely visit our feeders (and then only on the ground). This morning after a minor snow storm, I sprinkled some black oil sunflower seeds on our deck . . . and the Juncos were all over it. One Junco just couldn't keep the snow...

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December 9, 2017 – First Snow of Season

December 9, 2017 – First Snow of Season
Our feeding stations have been empty all fall.  A dry summer and a mild autumn made for abundant food and the finches and chickadees have had no need to supplement their diets. This afternoon as the first snow storm of the season hit, I noticed the feeders were filled.  When it gets light in the...

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December 6, 2017 – The Cackling Goose that Wasn’t There

December 6, 2017 – The Cackling Goose that Wasn’t There
For the last few days, our e-bird Alerts have been going off regularly . . . a Cackling Goose was being see in a flock of Canada geese in Cumberland, Maine.  Neither of us has ever seen one and our year list is sitting at 274. Since 275 is a nice round number . ....

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December 3, 2017 – Bonyun Preserve

December 3, 2017 – Bonyun Preserve
If it's Sunday in the fall at the Whitaker Household, it's Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.  So I was out early for a hike around Bonyun Preserve before we watched the Pats go for win #8 in a row. Golden-crowned Kinglets continue to be ever present and I even got one...

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November 29, 2017 – 55 Degrees in Maine

November 29, 2017 – 55 Degrees in Maine
I work at home for myself which is absolutely wonderful.  Unfortunately I'm also backed up on projects, there never seems to be enough time to get everything I need to get done.  This isn't helped by a 55 degree day at the end of November . . . this is Maine and any day now...

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November 24, 2017 – Snow Bunting

November 24, 2017 – Snow Bunting
Ingrid and I often joke on birding excursions . . . we often see more birds in the parking lot than in the ensuing forests and meadows. For instance, at a birding festival in June of 2016 Ingrid and I were on a birding walk with renown birder Greg Miller (the Jack Black character in...

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November 18, 2017 – Eastern Bluebirds

November 18, 2017 – Eastern Bluebirds
With the holidays approaching, Ingrid and I have been planning our birding adventures for 2018 and 2019 (San Diego Birding Festival and Louisiana respectively . . . as we will be lucky to get more than one or two birds this year.  Still we try to  get out several times a week . . ....

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November 17, 2017 – Red-bellied Woodpecker

November 17, 2017 – Red-bellied Woodpecker
Bird feeders throughout Maine have been strangely quiet this fall.  A dry summer has led to a bumper crop of seeds, acorns and cones and have given the finches, jays and chickadees an abundance of food.   The "Maine Birds Facebook Page" has banned posts complaining of "no birds at my feeders"  . . ....

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November 15, 2017 – Sabattus Lake

November 15, 2017 – Sabattus Lake
One of the great things about birding is different hotspots get "hot" at different times of the year. In Maine, the late fall/early winter hot spot is Sabattus Lake. A 3-mile-long, shallow pond in central Maine, it is surrounded by farm land; a small beach; water front cottages and forest. Most importantly for birds ....

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November 12, 2017 – Snowy Owl

November 12, 2017 – Snowy Owl
We've gotten in the habit of always taking the camera when we go out, even if there is no plan to do any birding . . . because you never know. This morning I drove down to Boston to pick up our son Bradley who is visiting from California for the week. After the reunion...

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October 29, 2017 – Maine Power Outage

October 29, 2017 – Maine Power Outage
Golden-crowned KingletWhen Ingrid and I went to bed on October 29 we were expecting some wild weather, high wind and heavy rains . . . what we got was the most destructive storm in 19 years. A week later, many roads are still closed, thousands are still without power. Stuck in a house without power...

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October 27, 2017 – Hermit Island

October 27, 2017 – Hermit Island
With apologies to our friends in Houston, Puerto Rico and the Islands, the weather in Maine the last couple days has been awful. Yesterday our little hamlet of Wiscasset got 5.2 inches of rain . . . not even our cats would go outside. For birders, it’s been claustrophobic and miserable. This morning the sun...

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October 21, 2017 – Plum Island, Massachusetts

October 21, 2017 – Plum Island, Massachusetts
Plum Island, Massachusetts . . . it’s work hard to find a North American birding spot with a more diverse and attractive birding habitat. A nine-mile-long peninsula which combines a residential community, an ocean facing barrier beach, an extensive salt marsh, dunes, low scrub, maritime forests, grassy fields, salt and fresh water ponds. In simpler...

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October 15, 2017 – Dunlins at Popham Beach

October 15, 2017 – Dunlins at Popham Beach
With warbler fall migration all but over . . . Ingrid and I returned to the ever-exciting world of shorebirds, with a morning visit to Popham Beach. Popham is one of Maine’s premier summer sand, sun and surf locations with towels inches apart on hot July afternoons. Even during the winter the parking lot usually...

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October 1 – 2, 2017: Monhegan Island

October 1 – 2, 2017: Monhegan Island
Ingrid and I are fortunate to live in the same county as Monhegan Island, one of the premier birding locations in North America . . .especially during fall migration. Why don’t we bird there more often? Because it’s 12 miles off shore . . . an hour ferry ride across cold, rough seas. From Lighthouse...

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September 29, 2017 – Squam Creek Preserve

September 29, 2017 – Squam Creek Preserve
As a taxpayer I can't say I love all these local nature preserves pulling hundreds of acres of land off the tax rolls -- but as a birder I love them. The latest tax dodge ... ah ... err ... conservation site is Squam Creek Preserve on Westport Island, about 5 miles from our home...

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September 23, 2017 – Rusty Blackbird

September 23, 2017 – Rusty Blackbird
This fall, about once a month, Ingrid has a 6 hour Saturday course in Saco, Maine. Likewise, I’m far behind on several software projects . . . so naturally while Ingrid is working . . . I went birding!!! This morning’s destination was Green Point WMA in Dresden. I got out of the car about...

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September 19, 2017: Fork-tailed Flycatcher

September 19, 2017: Fork-tailed Flycatcher
The Maine Birding community is all-a-flutter (that one never gets old) about the Fork-tailed Flycatcher being seen at Maine Audubon in Falmouth. This morning I commented to Ingrid that I’d be more excited about it if we hadn’t seen so many of them last April in Texas. Ingrid looked at me in disbelief (an expression...

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September 17, 2017 – Maine Audubon Pelagic Trip

September 17, 2017 – Maine Audubon Pelagic Trip
There are some birds that are difficult to see from land. These 'pelagic' birds spend most of their lives out on the open ocean, venturing on to solid ground only to breed and nest. When they do, an offshore island is often their choice of site. For the birder who want to see these rare...

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September 11, 2017 – Variety is the Spice of Life

September 11, 2017 – Variety is the Spice of Life
A short Monday morning expedition produced variety of birds that I’ve rarely at a local location.  Ducks, warblers, woodpeckers, raptures . . . they were all out in force this morning. Fall migration, coupled with cool beautiful weather made for ideal conditions. Nothing new for the year, but got some great photos. White-breasted Nuthatch Solitary...

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September 3, 2017 – Sandhill Cranes

September 3, 2017 – Sandhill Cranes
If you live in Nebraska, these somewhat blurry photos are not a big deal . . . as each year 400,000 to 600,000 sandhill cranes—80 percent of all the cranes on the planet—congregate along an 80-mile stretch of the central Platte River in Nebraska.  There they fatten up on waste grain in the empty cornfields...

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September 1, 2017 – Warbler Fall Migration

September 1, 2017 – Warbler Fall Migration
It was crisp with a light breeze and a definite touch of fall in the air when set out this morning to find a warbler or two on migration. Our trip quickly became a birding bonanza. The birch, alder and pine trees at Singing Meadows Preserve in Edgecomb, Maine were quite literally dripping with warblers...

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August 31, 2017 – Yellow-billed Cuckoo

August 31, 2017 – Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Up early this morning to chase birds at Green Point WMA.   While it’s still August, warblers seem to be moving back through in numbers, and Green Point seemed like a good place to try. They were everywhere, moving through the green leaves, appearing and disappearing . . . with identification (and photographing) so much more...

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August 29, 2017 – Mute Swans and Warblers

August 29, 2017 – Mute Swans and Warblers
I work at home, while Ingrid drives an hour each way to teach 4th graders. Yes . . . I know . . . life isn’t fair. Heck, mid-afternoon today I looked out the window and saw a Peregrine Falcon land on a tree outside the window. About the same time, Ingrid was working on...

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August 24, 2017 – Short-billed Dowitcher

August 24, 2017 – Short-billed Dowitcher
An appointment in Portland was the perfect excuse to skip work and get in a little birding at Scarborough Marsh. A number of unusual shorebirds have been sighted there in the last few weeks, so I was optimistic. Well I didn’t get a Red Ryder BB gun . . . nor did I get a...

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August 17, 2017 – Palm Warbler

August 17, 2017 – Palm Warbler
Yesterday we were driving back from Vermont after a short visit with our daughter Marita. To break up the trip (rationalism), I suggested we stop and do a little birding. After scouring E-bird, I came upon Pondicherry National Wildlife Reservation in Jefferson, NH. Gray Jays, Pied Grebes, and a variety of warblers had been seen...

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August 14, 2017 – Common Shelduck

August 14, 2017 – Common Shelduck
Ok, I’ll be honest . . . before last night I had never heard of the Common Shelduck. Ingrid and I were sitting at our favorite watering hole, watching our beloved Boston Red Sox vanquish the Evil Empire (aka the New York Yankees), when I came across an ABA Rare Bird Alert. In Rye, New...

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August 14, 2017 – There’s No Place Like Home

August 14, 2017 – There’s No Place Like Home
We travel all over the country to see birds, but sometimes there is no place like home. Yesterday evening near sunset we were treated to a confluence of birds that descended on a mudflat at the end of our street. Snowy Egret Snowy Egret Snowy Egret Yellowlegs, both Greater and Lesser, Snowy Egrets, Terns, Ducks...

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August 13, 2017 – Least Sandpipers

August 13, 2017 – Least Sandpipers
No plans to go birding today (gasp!!!!), so Ingrid and I went out for a late and casual brunch at Winnegance General Store in Bath. As the tide began to come in over the surrounding mudflats, we could see dozens of peeps flying in for their own late brunch. As soon as we got the...

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August 10, 2017 – The Peeps are Back in Town!!!

August 10, 2017 – The Peeps are Back in Town!!!
Solitary Sandpiper Ingrid and I have been neglecting the BigYearBirding.com website for the last week . . . we’ve been out birding but work issues have cut into our posting time. This whole food and shelter thing can be a drag. The shorebird migration is in full gear, with peeps scurrying about on mud flats...

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Willow Flycatcher – August 1, 2017

Willow Flycatcher – August 1, 2017
Willow Flycatcher An early morning trip to Singing Meadows was a quiet day . . . the adult Bobolinks have moved on (while the juveniles are still flocking); warblers showed no interest in my pishing; and even the Red-Winged Blackbirds were quiet. As I perused the hedgerow, a place where Cuckoos, Warblers and Wax Wings...

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July 30, 2017 – Nelson’s Sparrow

July 30, 2017 – Nelson’s Sparrow
Last week Ingrid and I were fortunate enough to sight and photograph a Salt Marsh Sparrow at Scarborough Marsh in Southern Maine. Today we saw at least three Nelson’s Sparrows at Weskeag Marsh in Thomaston, Maine which shows that there is symmetry in life . . . even in birding. At one time, these birds...

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July 29, 2017 – Eastern Kingbird vs. Red-tailed Hawk

July 29, 2017 – Eastern Kingbird vs. Red-tailed Hawk
Ingrid ran a 5K Road Race in Boothbay Harbor this morning . . . I didn’t run because of my bad knee (wink, wink) . . . so we were up and out early on a Saturday. The race starts and finishes at the town’s high school, which borders a marsh, and as Ingrid warmed...

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July 25, 2017 – Mute Swans

July 25, 2017 – Mute Swans
Ingrid needed help with a late morning errand today, so I played hooky from work for a couple hours.  On our way home Ingrid "forced me" to stopped at Butler Head Preserve in Bath to see what was around. We were thrilled to see three beautiful Mute Swans browsing in the marsh grass.  While they're...

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July 24, 2017 – Lincoln’s Sparrow

July 24, 2017 – Lincoln’s Sparrow
Yesterday on a 5 mile run, I noticed a Common Yellowthroat in the brush. Never one to miss an opportunity to stop, I “paused” for a few minutes to watch him. About a mile later I came to a place where a stream passed under the road and being an avid birder (and needing a...

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July 20, 2017 – Scarborough Marsh

July 20, 2017 – Scarborough Marsh
A doctor’s appointment in Portland provided a great excuse for Ingrid and me to hit Scarborough Marsh, one of the finest birding spots in Maine. Little Blue Heron A muggy, 88-degree day tempered our enthusiasm for long hikes in the sun, so we stopped at a few places where we could leave the air conditioned...

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July 18, 2017 – Indigo Bunting

July 18, 2017 – Indigo Bunting
Early summer mornings in Maine are notorious for heavy fog and dew. The roads can be wet, the grass soaked and the trees dripping . . . even though it hasn’t rained in days. At 5:30 this morning while Ingrid was training for an upcoming road race at nearby Singing Meadow, I spent some time...

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July 15, 2017 – Atlantic Puffins

July 15, 2017 – Atlantic Puffins
Summer is short in Maine, and thus very sweet. We savor every moment, and sometimes those moments are particularly magical. This evening was one of those moments. Once a year, Maine Audubon partners with Hardy Boat Cruises in New Harbor and runs a trip to Eastern Egg Rock where Project Puffin has worked diligently since...

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July 14, 2017 – Field Sparrow

July 14, 2017 – Field Sparrow
I took a day off from work due to a number of important errands in disparate parts of the state. After all the “T”s were crossed and the “I”s dotted, we headed to Captain William Fitzgerald Recreation and Conservation Area in Brunswick . . . a 66-acre parcel and one of the few remaining sand-plain...

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July 11, 2017 – Black-crowned Night Heron

July 11, 2017 – Black-crowned Night Heron
One of the great things about birding is that you never know what you will find (birding = box of chocolates). This morning, I was timing Ingrid as she was doing some cross-country interval training in preparation for a 10K race early next month. As I waited for her to finish each loop, I explored...

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July 8, 2017 – Singing Meadow

July 8, 2017 – Singing Meadow
This morning Ingrid and I headed to Singing Meadow in Edgecomb for a little birding, before she hauled me through a 9-mile run. We’re training for the annual early August Beach to Beacon 10k road race. I was anxious to bird as long as possible, thus delay the pain and agony as long as possible,...

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July 2, 2017 – Tree Swallows

July 2, 2017 – Tree Swallows
Summer is now in full swing at the Whitaker household . . . and this means summer visitors (it’s funny how no one visits our home on the coast of Maine in February). We love our visiting friends and relatives, but they take time away from our birding. This past weekend however, Ingrid and I...

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June 29, 2017 – Black-billed Cuckoo

June 29, 2017 – Black-billed Cuckoo
This morning Ingrid went to a photography class at Boothbay’s Coastal Botanical Gardens, so I had headed to Great Salt Bay Preserve for some early morning birding. I arrived at 6:00 and for the next hour and I a half I had the place to myself and a plethora of birds. A House Wren greeted...

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June 24, 2017 – Woodstock, Vermont

June 24, 2017 – Woodstock, Vermont
Woodstock is one of our favorite get away spots, and we usually make a winter and a summer weekend visit.  We play tourist, eat too much, drink adult beverages, hike, buy trinkets and this year . . . spend some time birding. We picked up 4 first of year birds including a personal favorite, the...

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June 23, 2017 – Broad-winged Hawk

June 23, 2017 – Broad-winged Hawk
Birding has been limited as of late.  Ingrid, a 4th grade teacher, has been finishing up her last few days of school, and I had developed a nasty rash caused by the Brown-tailed Caterpillar . . . undoubtably contacted on a birding expedition.  Our son, always the wise guy, was quick to retort: "Birding is Dangerous...

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June 17, 2017 – Piping Plover

June 17, 2017 – Piping Plover
The Maine birding community is all-a-flitter (never get tired of that old chestnut) about a Snowy Plover being seen at Reid State Park and naturally Ingrid and I had to trek to this near-by beach to see it.  As so often happens, we failed in our quest but picked up a few unexpected treasures that...

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June 16, 2017 – House Wren

June 16, 2017 – House Wren
This morning I decided to forego my morning run and headed to Great Salt Bay Preserve in Newcastle for a little pre-work birding.  It was a chilly, drizzly, mosquito infested outing . . . but I saw lots of birds, including one lifer and one FOY . . . so it was great. The House...

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June 13, 2017 – Common Eider

June 13, 2017 – Common Eider
To be honest, when I'm out birding . . . I tend to ignore the the birds I see all the time.  Blue Jays, Mallards, Mourning Doves are everywhere . . . and become part of the scenery.  One bird that I see everyday but will never become common place for me is the Common Eider. Feeding on...

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June 12, 2017 – Pileated Woodpecker

June 12, 2017 – Pileated Woodpecker
After a tense day of work and with Ingrid doing some errands, I decided to check out a swampy area on Westport Island this evening.  In the past I'd seen warblers, heard thrushes, and I hoped to get some flycatchers. The mosquitoes were as bad as I've ever experienced.  After a couple of minutes I...

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June 6, 2017 – Great Blue Herons

June 6, 2017 – Great Blue Herons
I'm not the biggest fan of business travel . . . in fact I hate it.  One is cramped into small planes, cookie cutter hotels and far from loved ones.  Over the years, my job has had me on the road a lot  . . . and I've learned to grin and bear it.  Since...

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June 1, 2017 – The End of Warbler Season

June 1, 2017 – The End of Warbler Season
Yellow Warbler The first of June is the end of warbler season and time to look back at what we saw and what we missed. We’ll see them again when they come back through in the fall . . . but it’s not as much fun as their colors are duller and the migration is...

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May 31, 2017 – Chipping Sparrow

May 31, 2017 – Chipping Sparrow
The weather has been terrible for the end of May . . . morning temperatures in the low 40s, higher in the low 50s, overcast and raining.  Not exactly conducive to birding.  And then there is that annoying "work" thing . . . I wonder if I can get on disability so I can go

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May 28, 2017 – Female Warblers

May 28, 2017 – Female Warblers
With spring warbler season coming to and with tomorrow (Memorial Day), Ingrid and I headed to nearby Bath, Maine hoping for a few stragglers. We saw our most common warblers (Yellow, Common Yellow and Black Throated Green) but interestingly, virtually every bird was a female. Black-throated Green Warbler Common Yellowthroat Yellow Warbler The Black-Throated Green...

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Northern Cardinal – May 25, 2017

Northern Cardinal – May 25, 2017
Cardinals are not rare in Maine . . . in fact their Star-Wars Laser Beam song is a fixture of the Maine forests, neighborhood, pastures and orchards.  I've seen flocks of them on snowy winter days and in the spring courting couples are in every thicket and forsythia bush. Unfortunately, our yard and feeders are one...

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May 21, 2017 – A Day at the Feeder

May 21, 2017 – A Day at the Feeder
Northern Cardinal and Harry Woodpecker A few weeks ago, Ingrid and I invested in a Birdcam, in hopes we'd catch a few rare birds on our platform feeder that we might miss while doing mundane tasks like earning a living, yard word and laundry.  We have a platform feeder on the third floor of our house...

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May 21, 2017 – Cedar Waxwing

May 21, 2017 – Cedar Waxwing
Today was not a birding day, we had some family business to take care of and we drove up to Mount Vernon in the middle of the state of Maine. Of course on the way home we stopped at a few of our favorite spots  . . . a pasture on the family farm and...

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May 20, 2017 – Chestnut-sided Warbler

May 20, 2017 – Chestnut-sided Warbler
I've never been able to decide if a Chestnut-sided Warbler is a beautiful bird with a unique and glorious color scheme or a garish bird with a kindergartner with crayons color scheme.  Today Ingrid  and I saw our first Chestnut-sided Warbler of the year in an apple orchard amid the apple blossom  . . ....

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May 18, 2017 – Baltimore and Orchard Orioles

May 18, 2017 – Baltimore and Orchard Orioles
After two hours visiting Butler Cove and the Damariscotta Fish Ladder in the morning and afternoon, I was relieved to pick up Ingrid after her 4th grade class headed home for the day. Unfortunately, we were having an unseasonable heat wave (97 degrees) and the warblers that were so prevalent in the morning, were hunkering...

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May 18, 2017 – Eagle Fishing for Alewifes

May 18, 2017 – Eagle Fishing for Alewifes
A rite of spring in Mid-Coast Maine is the return of the Alewifes.  An Alewife is a small herring fish that spends most of its life in the Atlantic Ocean, but in the spring, mature Alewifes, return to their place of birth to spawn, fresh water lakes. We are fortunate to have two Alewife fish...

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May 18, 2017 – Wilson’s Warbler

May 18, 2017 – Wilson’s Warbler
I took the day off from work today to get a little spring migration birding in.  Unfortunately Ingrid had to work (curse you 4th graders) so I was on my own until her little cherubs headed home on their school bus. A rare Prothonotary Warbler had been reported at nearby Butler Head in Bath, Maine and headed...

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May 14, 2017 – The Masked Bandit is Finally Captured!

May 14, 2017 – The Masked Bandit is Finally Captured!
Common Yellow Throat I like to photograph birds and unless I get a photo . . . I fear that I really didn't see it what I think I saw.  While probably a quarter of the birds on my life list are on the "honor system" . . . I'm always trying to backfill those birds...

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May 12, 2017 – Purple Finches

May 12, 2017 – Purple Finches
We've seen Purple Finches at our feeders before, generally during the winter when birds are desperately looking for food.  But the Purple Finches we saw always seemed like transients and we  never had what we felt were breeding populations.  We think that may have changed this spring as we've seen lots of Purples in the...

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May 7, 2017 – Return of the Warblers

May 7, 2017 – Return of the Warblers
A couple weeks ago, Ingrid and I traveled to High Island on the Gulf Coast of Texas to watch the annual bird migration.  The warblers moving through the Bolivar Peninsular in the spring is legendary.  Unfortunately, one can't predict the exact date birds actually migrate and our trip was a couple weeks early.  Not that...

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May 5, 2017 – the First Hummingbird of the Spring

May 5, 2017 – the First Hummingbird of the Spring
The first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the season arrived at our feeder . . . three days earlier than last year.  Its's been a cold, dreary spring and its a delight to see this tiny bird zipping in and out. We've had their feeders out for 6 days . . . we put them out last...

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May 3, 2017 – White-throated Sparrow Visits

May 3, 2017 – White-throated Sparrow Visits
  Our Annual Migrating Visitor Arrives For about two weeks each Spring, White-throated Sparrows visit our feeders. On April 20, Ingrid heard the unmistakable "Sweet Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada" on a morning run. In the ensuing days we've seen two or three adults and juveniles hopping around under our holly and azalea bushes. If past...

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April 24,2017 – Columbia Riverfront Park (South Carolina)

April 24,2017 – Columbia Riverfront Park (South Carolina)
I work for a company in Columbia, South Carolina and visit every six weeks of so. At the end of a hard day (part of it spent in an airplane), I love to unwind with a little birding along the Columbia Riverfront Park. The park is a walkway that separated the Columbia Canal and Columbia...

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April 22, 2017 – Fieldfare in Newcastle, Maine

April 22, 2017 – Fieldfare in Newcastle, Maine
Birders and FieldFare Rare Birds in Our Own Backyard With its wide variety of habitat – coastal plain, mixed hardwood and coniferous forest, inland lakes and waterways – Maine attracts a wide variety of birds. Sometimes it lures rarities. This week it snagged two, both firsts for the state (Portland Press Herald). Early in the...

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April 18, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Thunderstorms and Turnstones )

April 18, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Thunderstorms and Turnstones )
Black Skimmers Today's plan was a trip to Galveston on the ferry that connects the Bolivar Peninsula to the western mainland. But as luck would have it, the elusive thunderstorms predicted each day for the last three gathered themselves up into one long-lasting band that began in the middle of the night and lasted through...

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April 17, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Birding Potpourri)

April 17, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Birding Potpourri)
Purple Gallinule Today seemed like the day to revisit some of our previous birding sites and check out others recommended by other birders we had met on the trail. Like the population in general, not all birders are friendly. In fact, there are some who make it very clear they are not to be disturbed....

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April 16, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Anahuac Wildlife Refuge)

April 16, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Anahuac Wildlife Refuge)
Good Things Come in Threes....and Trees! In the first three and a half month at home in Maine, we totaled 92 different bird species. In three days on the Gulf Coast of Texas we spotted 94, recording 20 new birds today alone! This is a must-hit destination for birders looking for a wide variety of...

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April 15, 2017 – High Island, Texas

April 15, 2017 – High Island, Texas
Pied-billed Grebe High Island, Texas is the Fenway Park or Wrigley Field of Birding . . . a place of tremendous bird diversity, but also a place where the community openly embraces the  hordes of birders that descend on the small town each spring. Warblers continue to be slow in arriving this year, or perhaps the...

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April 14, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Bolivar Flats)

April 14, 2017 – Texas Spring Migration (Bolivar Flats)
Hooded Warbler It's Spring Migration and We're Swimming in Birds! As part of our "training" for a Big Year, and more to the point - because winter in Maine has lasted far too long and we are desperate to see some (even one would do!) new birds - we hopped on a plane in Boston...

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April 11, 2017 – Eastern Phoebe

April 11, 2017 – Eastern Phoebe
One of our favorite birds that returns each spring is the Eastern Phoebe. The Phoebe arrives early (often with snow still on the ground) and stay around well into the fall. Its lovable and ubiquitous tail flip, raspy repetitive call “phoebe phoebe phoebe phoebe phoebe phoebe” and sudden acrobatic flights to grab an insect makes...

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April 9, 2017 – Snow Bunting

April 9, 2017 – Snow Bunting
Sometimes when it comes to finding unusual birds, instead of going to birding hot spots . . . one should just drive around doing normal things. Today was a perfect example. Le Garage, a local water front restaurant is closing at the end of the month after 40 years in business and Ingrid and I...

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April 8, 2017 – Fox Sparrow Visits

April 8, 2017 – Fox Sparrow Visits
Fox Sparrow Visits Migrating sparrows are starting to move through Mid-Coast Maine. Our resident Song Sparrow (named Belle) has returned to her stump by the river; I think I briefly caught sight of a White-Throated Sparrow yesterday (not long enough to count it); and we expect to see the first Chipping Sparrow any day. This...

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Return of the Mid-Coast Maine Ospreys – April 7, 2017

Return of the Mid-Coast Maine Ospreys – April 7, 2017
Return of the Mid-Coast Maine Ospreys Maine winters are harsh and long and by March residents are ready for it to end. As March gives way to April, Maine-iacs are all looking for the first crocus or shirtsleeve day to signify the start of Spring. In Mid-Coast Maine, we look for these signs too, but...

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March 31, 2017 – Canvasback in Maine

March 31, 2017 – Canvasback in Maine
Canvasback in Maine Ingrid and I were heading south to watch our beloved and first place Boston Celtics take on the Orlando Magic and we made a detour to Biddeford Pool to see if we could see the Canvasback that was being reported  at Etherington Pond. I find a certain sense of excitement when I travel...

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March 26 – Red-winged Blackbird

March 26 – Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird Winter continues to hang-on here in Maine.  We usually see the first Ospreys about the first of April, but somehow this year I think they will be a little later than usual. We had originally planned to spend Sunday having brunch at one of our favorite restaurants which is closing for good in...

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March 19, 2017 – Will Winter Ever End

March 19, 2017 – Will Winter Ever End
Will Winter Ever End Ingrid and I went out today hoping to see some early migrating birds . . . but the 2 feet of snow should have told us to stay home and watch Netflix . . . but we did get some interesting photos of some of our winter residents.      ...

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January 7, 2017 – Pink Footed Goose

January 7, 2017 – Pink Footed Goose
Pink-footed Goose Snow Goose If you saw the 2011 movie the Big Year, you probably remember the Jack Black’s character’s mission to find the Pink-footed Goose. He just misses the bird at High Island, Texas; then again in Boston; before finally getting him in December at a warm spring on a mountain top in Colorado....

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January 14, 2017 – Barrow’s Goldeneye

January 14, 2017 – Barrow’s Goldeneye
The Barrow’s Goldeneye has been a bit of a nemesis for us. The Common Golden is a ubiquitous winter duck in Maine . . . we see them everywhere (including from our living room window). A couple times during the last two years we saw a Barrow’s at a distance with a spotting scope, always...

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March 13, 2017 – American Woodcock

March 13, 2017 – American Woodcock
American Woodcock Sometimes when you’re not birding . . . the bird comes to you. I was out running after work (gotta love Daylight Savings Time) and a brown softball with a beak flew 50 feet in front of me. After the run I walked the perimeter of the nearby meadow trying to find the...

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March 10, 2017 – Great Blue Heron and Northern Shoveler

March 10, 2017 – Great Blue Heron and Northern Shoveler
Great Blue Heron and Northern Shoveler Great Blue Heron Northern Shoveler On a trip to Vermont for a Bed and Breakfast weekend, Ingrid and I made a few stops along the Maine Coast to see what birds might be lurking about. In New England, March is the cruelest of months, with a few signs of...

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February 27, 2017: Wood Ducks

February 27, 2017: Wood Ducks
This morning I had to make a quick run to Logan Airport in Boston. On the way home I decided to visit the legendary York Duck Pond (Abbott Pond). Since the 1970s, Abbott Brothers, a contracting firm, has been feeding ducks in a small pond in York, Maine . . . just a few minutes...

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February 24, 2017: Great Gray Owl

February 24, 2017: Great Gray Owl
When most people think of birders, retirees first jump to mind. You know… they’re older, not in the best shape and need a slow-paced hobby to keep them moving and fill their time. While many retirees enjoy birding, people of all ages can be found with binoculars trained to the sky. Many birders hold full...

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February 21-23, 2017: Columbia, South Carolina

February 21-23, 2017: Columbia, South Carolina
  Folks that have never travelled on business believe it to be glamorous: you get to fly to exciting places, stay in fine hotels, and eat out on an expense account. The reality, as any “Road Warrior” can attest, is cramped airplane seats, tight connections, dinner at Denny's and chain hotels. I work for a...

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February 20, 2017 – Audubon Great Backyard Bird Count

February 20, 2017 – Audubon Great Backyard Bird Count
My President’s Day holiday was ruined by a bad cold and like all men, the slightest illness has me off my feet, moaning in agony. Childbirth can’t possibly be as painful as my sore throat. Setting my hypochondria aside for a minute, with outside birding out of the question Ingrid and I decided to participate...

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February 18, 2017 – Northern Shrike

February 18, 2017 – Northern Shrike
Ingrid has been birding for 20+ years and had never seen a Northern Shrike. This fact has always bothered her . . . to the point that its dribbled into our day to day life: “Ethan, why don’t you ever pick up your socks and how come we never see a Northern Shrike????” The Northern...

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February 16, 2017 – California Dreaming

February 16, 2017 – California Dreaming
Island Scrub Jay Ingrid and I have just finished digging out from yet another winter storm . . . we’ve had over 4 feet of snow in the last couple weeks which has limited our Maine birding adventures. When snow is up to your arm pits it's difficult to prowl the woods and fields. Birding...

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February 7, 2017 – Winter Doldrums

February 7, 2017 – Winter Doldrums
Birding in Maine is wonderful . . . seabirds, shorebirds, raptors, warblers, owls, boreal forest birds and the ever present Black-capped Chickadee. But each year we hit winter doldrums where the birds are no longer moving, fall migration is over and spring migration hasn’t started. We’ve picked up all the easy birds and the handful...

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January 22, 2017 – Red-breasted Merganser

January 22, 2017 – Red-breasted Merganser
Today’s expedition was to Popham Beach to perhaps pickup a Green-winged Teal or a Snow Bunting. How did we do? Think Cleveland Browns . . . we failed miserably. We did manage to get a few nice photos of male Red-breasted Merganser; saw a the usual winter selection of Scoters, Eiders and crows but nothing...

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January 21, 2017 – Ring-necked Duck

January 21, 2017 – Ring-necked Duck
  Ring-necked Duck It’s been a mild winter here in Maine and perhaps that's why we keep seeing out of season birds. So far this month, we’ve seen an Orange-crowned Warbler (rare in Maine); a Northern Flicker (a summer bird); a Snow Goose (rare anytime); a Red-bellied Woodpecker (the bird books say it's rare ....

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January 17, 2017 – Red-throated Loon

January 17, 2017 – Red-throated Loon
We live on a salt-water river on the coast of Maine. Depending how you measure, our house is between 10 and 20 miles of the ocean, but we still have seals and lobster traps in the tidal river. For five and a half hours the river runs one direction and then the tide turns and...

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January 16, 2017 – Northern Flicker

January 16, 2017 – Northern Flicker
Sometimes there really is “No place like home!”. This morning before we headed out for a some local birding, Ingrid spotted a Northern Flicker on our suet feeder. It’s not unusual to see a Northern Flicker in Maine during the Spring, Summer and Fall but seeing one in January is remarkable. We had a similar...

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January 10, 2017 – A Trip to Mail-It-For-You

January 10, 2017 – A Trip to Mail-It-For-You
A Christmas Amazon Prime return was an excuse for a trip to Mail-It-For-You . . . Ethan just decided to bring his binoculars and Nikon along (and he took a particularly circuitous route). While he saw nothing unusual for the coast of Maine in January, the birds were posing quite nicely. This was our best photo...

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January 1, 2017 – New Years Day Big Day

January 1, 2017 – New Years Day Big Day
Our New Years Day Big Day . . . a great way to begin the new year. We started the day by simply counting species from the living and bedrooms in our Wiscasset, Maine home. Our first bird of the year was the Tufted Titmouse, followed quickly by the White-breasted Nuthatch and the Black-capped Chickadee....

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