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Puffins & Bicknell's Thrush Tour
June 11-13, 2013

Mourning Warbler
Mountainside Group
Down the trail
Boreal Birding
Boreal Chickadee
Bay-breasted Warbler
Gray Jays
This intensive tour packs a lot into three days. We meet in Portland, Maine, and begin the birding at Scarborough Marsh, ferreting out Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sparrows. Nearby Pine Point is the next stop for a chance at Piping Plovers and Roseate Terns. After an oceanside lunch of lobster and seafood, we'll bird our way up the coast to Boothbay Harbor for the evening, staying at the Flagship Inn.

The inn borders a terrific refuge and we'll chase warblers and other songbirds before breakfast on the second day. Then we'll board the boat for a 2-1/2 hour cruise around Eastern Egg Rock, the southernmost Atlantic Puffin colony in the world. Common, Arctic, and Roseate Terns also breed on the island, and we'll have a chance at pelagic species such as Wilson's Storm-petrels and Northern Gannets. Great, Sooty, and Manx Shearwaters are possible.

We'll spend the afternoon driving and birding our way to the western mountains, dining along the way, and arriving at the Spillover Motel in time for an early bedtime. The third day starts very, very early - the best time to track down the elusive Bicknell's Thrush. This species is notorious for singing primarily at dawn and dusk. We'll try our luck at a secret spot that requires a slow ascent up a logging trail. The trail passes through extraordinarily good habitat for Mourning Warblers, and we'll also enjoy Blackpolls and Bay-breasted Warblers along the way. Nashville and Magnolia Warblers are common. Indeed, the morning chorus will be alive with the sound of Swainson's Thrushes, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Winter Wrens, Dark-eyed Juncos, and White-throated Sparrows.

We'll spend the rest of the day birding the boreal forests around Rangeley, seeking Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers (the first difficult, the second rare), Gray Jays, Spruce Grouse, and boreal warbler species. The tour returns to Portland and ends just before dinner.

Fee is $360 per person / double occupancy; $445 single occupancy. $200 deposit required upon booking; balance due at the end of the tour by check or cash. In the event that bad weather cancels the puffin trip, the cost of the boat will be deducted from the fee. Bad weather can also make the Bicknell's Thrush inaccessible, though we haven't missed it yet. Tour guide is Bob Duchesne, founder of the Maine Birding Trail and author of the trail guidebook. For more information or to reserve, call Bob at 207-827-3782 or e-mail duchesne@midmaine.com

Tour is limited to 10 participants to insure proper attention. Package price includes two nights lodging, two continental breakfasts augmented by additional snacks and fruit, three lunches, two dinners, the puffin trip, and guided transportation by 15-passenger van. Rooms are simple but comfortable. WIFI service provided at both motels.

The 3-day tour officially begins in Portland on June 11th and ends there around 6pm on June 13th. This midweek tour has been scheduled at a time that allows it to be fit flexibly into the vacation plans of participants, and it coincides with the limited availability of the puffin trip. Pick up and drop off of participants will occur at two locations in Portland for your convenience. The Portland Transportation Center is an Amtrack rail and bus hub with secure parking. The Comfort Inn is a convenient hotel with free shuttle service from Portland Jetport for those who may wish to stay overnight in Portland prior to the tour. Individual arrangements may be made directly with the Comfort Inn which is offering a discount rate to participants. (207) 775-0409.

This trip will require some moderate hiking. Participants should be able to walk up a slope on uneven terrain (as slowly as needed; no rush). Other hikes will be relatively short and on level ground. There may be some spots that are muddy, uneven, and slippery. Adequate footwear is advised. Biting insects are likely to be present, primarily at dawn and dusk. Insect repellent is suggested. We will be outdoors for long periods of time and a hat or sunscreen will be handy, especially during the puffin trip. The boat will not be going offshore very far and seasickness is not common, but precautions are recommended for those who are prone to motion sickness. Mid June tends to be warm, sunny, and dry. But conditions in the northern Maine woods are changeable, so bring clothing for cool or damp conditions. Dawn temperatures may start in the 40s and reach the 80s by afternoon.

I adhere to the ABA code of birding ethics. I may resort to tapes with the consent of the group. We will be in the height of nesting season when most birds are very vocal, so the majority of species should be found without using audio. Participants should bring binoculars, and there is plenty of room in the van of cameras, scopes, and gear.
Bicknell's Thrush
Atlantic Puffins
Common Tern
Piping Plover
Scarborough Marsh
Spruce Grouse