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Travelogues

Travelogues

So what are the adventures REALLY like along the Maine Birding Trail? Here are some stories that will familiarize you with some of the sites, tours, trips, and adventures. Least Sandpiper
September, 2012 (North Maine Woods)  Experienced birders will recognize this situation instantly. Over a ten day period, three different visits to a great boreal birding site in Maine yielded three very different experiences, featuring Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee...more. Spruce Grouse
September, 2012 (Grand Manan & Downeast)  Two tours x two countries x four days each: the math adds up to incredible birding across the border of Maine and New Brunswick. If the principle targets are ocean birds and shorebirds, this is the adventure to beat. Throw in a lot of whales, porpoises, and seals, and it just gets better....more. Humpback Whale
June, 2012 (Baxter State Park) Two groups grabbed an opportunity to spend several days on tour in Baxter State Park this summer. The first group enjoyed a regular offering of the Maine Birding Trail. The second was a special group organized by the Audubon Society of Dayton, Ohio. Both groups were lots and lots of fun. The birding was awesome...more. Spruce Grouse
June, 2012 (Historic Pittston Farm) So nice, we did it twice. This is quickly becoming one of the most popular adventures offered. Besides the usual 3-day tour, we added a second for members of the York County Audubon Society of southern Maine. Pittston Farm sits in the heart of the working forest, which just happens to be one of the birdiest places we know...more. Lincoln's Sparrow
7/10/11 (Aroostook) While everybody else is heading for the Maine coast and Acadia in the summer, some birding experts head for the northern tip of Maine. It's another whole world up there, dominated by moose and breeding birds not found farther south except in migration. Birders in the southern U.S. sometimes get to see Fox and Lincoln's Sparrows in migration, as well as Tennessee, Bay-breasted, and Mourning Warblers, but they don't get to hear them sing...more. Mooses
6/28/11 (North Maine Woods) This year's Maine Birding Trail tour to Historic Pittston Farm deep in Maine's working forest started off with a bang. Shortly after lunch on the first day, we already had one of our chief targets. A cooperative pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers became ABA bird #600 for Larry Meade, shortly after Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Boreal Chickadee became #598 and #599...more. Black-backed Woodpecker
10/29/10 (Portland) On October 26th, Luke Seitz was serving as a naturalist on board the Odyssey, a whale watch boat out of Portland. Luke discovered and photographed the first Maine (and New England) record of a Yellow-billed Loon just a few miles offshore. He noted the coordinates and several days later, a boat load of birders joined the whale watch tour for a second chance at this incredible rarity...more. Yellow-billed Loon
8/21/10 (Downeast and Acadia) Not to be outdone, the Penobscot Valley Chapter of Maine Audubon also enjoyed spectacular weather and extraordinary birding while virtually duplicating the tour enjoyed by the York County chapter two weeks earlier. The shorebirds cooperated nicely...more. Short-billed Dowitchers
8/8/10 (Downeast and Acadia) York County Audubon Society knows how to pick 'em. The weather was about as good as it gets during the chapter's two-day downeast field trip. Shorebirds, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and a Razorbill highlighted the ocean birding, and an astounding eleven Spruce Grouse plus one roosting Common Nighthawk made the forested birding noteworthy...more Common Nighthawk
6/16/10 (North Maine Woods) In the eastern United States, there are few places more remote and secluded than Pittston Farm above Moosehead Lake in the heart of Maine's working forest. At one time, this was headquarters for Great Northern Paper's logging operations. Today, it's a great base camp for day trips into the North Maine Woods in search of birds found only in the boreal forest patches that abound in the area...more. Evening Grosbeak
5/29/10 (Downeast and Acadia) If there is one birding festival that offers most of what Maine is famous for, this one is it. The Down East Spring Birding Festival celebrated its 7th success over Memorial Day Weekend. The continued run of good weather enabled birders from all over the country to chase lifers into the boreal forest, along the rocky coastline, and even offshore to spectacular Machias Seal Island...more. Common Murres
5/22/10 (Downeast and Acadia) This year's Wings, Waves & Woods Festival benefited from great weather - the first time the festival has been rain-free since its inception. The festival successfully gathered both good birds and good birders. As always, a major highlight is Captain Bill Baker's boat trip out to Seal Island for the returning puffins. The swarm of these clowns of the sea were unforgettable. A large number of Great Cormorants added spice to the trip...more. Great Cormorant
Winter 2010 was mild. While Maine has a reputation for being cold, it is actually at the 45th parallel, in the heart of the temperate zone. Add in a couple of the warmest months on record and an unmuddy April, and you have the makings for a particularly exciting offseason. In western and northern Maine, White-winged Crossbills were abundant. At the coast, sea ducks were particularly accessible...more. White-winged Crossbill
10/4/09 (Midcoast) (Filed by Kristen Lindquist) For my annual autumn visit to Monhegan this year I brought along a fellow birder who had never visited the island despite living in Maine for over thirty years. I’d been talking the place up for a long time, so I had my fingers crossed. Fortunately luck was on our side, and for his three-day stay my friend Brian experienced Monhegan at its very best. The excitement began on the boat ride from Port Clyde, with a milling cloud of diving gannets, a minke whale, and several shearwaters (Greater and Cory’s) seen from the deck...more. Question Mark
8/12/09 (Downeast and Acadia) Campobello is a special island reserved for special people and special birds. It's famous mostly as the summer estate of American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, and that's exactly where this Maine Audubon field trip stayed! Highlights included multiple whales surfacing right next to the lighthouse on East Quoddy Head, many unusual birds, such as a Parasitic Jaeger, hundreds of Greater and Sooty Shearwaters, and a very cooperative Spruce Grouse...more. Black-legged Kittiwake
8/1/09 (Downeast and Acadia) Knowledgeable birders from around the country soon figure out that downeast Maine is where they want to go in July and August. The puffin boats make daily trips out to Machias Seal Island - the only puffin island off the coast of Maine that allows visitors to land when weather conditions are favorable. Meanwhile, it's also the place to look for boreal species such as Spruce Grouse, Gray Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Boreal Chickadee. Many birders made the trek downeast this year, and this travelogue is a composite of some of those experiences. Note that Maine's Washington County is as large as Delaware and a little bit of driving goes with the territory ...more. Atlantic Puffin
6/28/09 (The Maine Highlands) When I included the Maine Public Reserve Lands at Scraggly Lake in the new Maine Birding Trail guidebook, my glowing recommendation was based on a very productive visit in August, 2007 – confusing fall warblers everywhere. The habitat was so diverse and mixed that I was sure it would be a great spot for songbirds in the spring and for a few boreal specialties. So it was time to go back in spring and make sure I was right. Holy Cow! ...more. Boreal Chickadee
6/27/09 (Mid-coast) In a waterlogged state with lots of wetlands, many are good and some are great. That aptly describes the Sandy Point Wildlife Management Area at the northern tip of the Mid-coast area in Stockton Springs. This gem is right on the edge of busy Route 1, and yet is hidden away even from most Mainers. It is one of the best places to scare up an uncommon Least Bittern. ...more. Marsh Wren
6/25/09 (The Maine Highlands) This year’s tour of Baxter State Park caught two days of good birding weather amid two weeks of unseasonable, unreasonable dampness. And that wasn’t our only lucky break. On the first day, the group managed to score three out of the four boreal favorites: Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and Black-backed Woodpecker. With over 70 species sighted on the first day, including 19 warblers, we were off to a roaring start. ...more. MiniMoose
6/16/09: (The Maine Highlands) Big Spencer Mountain stands above the working forest, northeast of Moosehead Lake. At 3200 feet, it's just the right height to provide habitat for the elusive Bicknell's Thrush...IF you can be there at the right time and pick them out from the dawn cacophony of Blackpolls, Fox Sparrows, Winter Wrens, Swainson's Thrushes, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. ...more. Blackpoll
6/5/09: (The Maine Highlands) Cooperative weather and cooperative birds made this year's tour of Moosehead Lake one of the best. Some of the 19 warbler species notched over the two days, and the trip's first Boreal Chickadee, were scored right in the driveway of the Evergreen Lodge. "Ollie" the Olive-sided Flycatcher was once again in his favorite tree this year. Since EVERYTHING is singing this time of year, it was a good opportunity to practice birding by ear ...more. Olive-sided Flycatcher
5/22/09 (Downeast and Acadia Region) For the third year in a row, Washington County retained its title as "America's Birdiest Atlantic Coastal County" - a national competition that coincides with the Down East Spring Birding Festival. That's pretty good, considering that the Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Common Murres, Arctic Terns, and pelagic species seen on the Machias Seal Island boat trip, or any of the specialties seen on New Brunswick's Campobello Island, don't count.  ...more. Spruce Grouse
5/16/09: (Downeast and Acadia Region) This year's Wings, Woods, and Wildflowers Festival in Deer Isle and Stonington was well attended and fruitful. As usual, the puffin trip was a highlight: plenty of puffins, razorbills, guillemots, and Great Cormorants. ...more. Puffins
2/2/09: (Kennebec Valley) the Penobscot Valley Chapter of Maine Audubon caught a particularly fine day for winter birding, scoring many interesting irruptive species and several unusual sights. The highlights were many: two dozen Lapland Longspurs feeding with an equal number of Horned Larks; a tree full of Snow Buntings; 200 Bohemian Waxwings; multiple Bald Eagles; three Glaucous Gulls...more. Lapland Longspur
9/13/08: (Downeast and Acadia Region) Far East meets Downeast: Isao Taoka, his wife, and friends are accomplished birders from Japan who had a few holes to fill in their North American life lists.  Thirteen of those holes were filled on a quick jaunt downeast a day before Maine Audubon's famous pelagic trip out of Bar Harbor. During the day, we got repeatedly lucky - from American Golden Plovers to Red Knots to a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at our very feet.  ...more. Buff-breasted Sandpiper
9/7/08: (Grand Manan) The twelve intrepid birders arrived on Grand Manan one day before Hurricane Hanna arrived on the island, and still racked up 81 species. Land birds and shorebirds were easy to find. Foraging flocks of  passerines gave the group multiple opportunities to study their "confusing fall warblers." Though heavy rains were reported in the Atlantic just south of Grand Manan, it spared the island for all of Saturday....more. Grand Manan Nature Trail
7/2/08: (The Maine Highlands) More moose sightings than chickadees! Hard to believe, but true during two tours of Baxter State Park. Baxter State Park is a Mecca for purists: no tape-playing allowed. Birders must enjoy the birds in their natural state, unharried by modern methods. Some breeders were abundant, including the Least Flycatchers and many of the warblers. Good looks at Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were appreciated. ...more.
Moose
6/25/08: (The Maine Highlands) Very cute: A Spruce Grouse hen with four chicks proved to be the highlight of another successful stay at AMC's Medawisla Camps. Other tough birds popped up with regularity. In fact, a Bay-breasted Warbler was unexpectedly waiting for us as we parked the van for the second morning's warbler walk. A stone's throw further, Boreal Chickadees were noted carrying food, a sure sign that their young had just hatched, as well. Gray Jays hatch their young in early June and these curious birds become even more curious when their juveniles are around....more. Spruce Grouse
6/19/08: (The Maine Highlands) A Mourning Warbler was the top highlight as this year's Wilds of Moosehead Tour racked up 82 northern Maine species over two days, including Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Olive-sided Flycatcher. Besides the Mourning Warbler, many other warblers cooperated nicely. The group scored 16 species - an average number for this time of year. A Canada Warbler circled the group several times, providing great looks despite its reputation for being elusive. Flycatchers were in abundance, including the Olive-sided Flycatcher that dominated Shirley Bog....more. Mourning Warbler
5/20/08: (Greater Portland) When warbler season is peaking in southern Maine, it's a good time to head for Evergreen Cemetery in Portland. So a van load of northern Maine birders did. The first stop was Evergreen Cemetery. OK, the first stop was for coffee. 5:30am comes early. Evergreen Cemetery is notorious as the state's premier warbler fallout, attracting both birds and birders. Maine Audubon leads daily trips in May, and you're likely to run into the state's leading experts on any morning....more. Black-crowned Night Heron
5/17/08: (Downeast Acadia) When you're surrounded by Atlantic Puffins, the rain dampens everything but spirits. Throw in some Common Murres and Razorbills and let the fun begin. Food is abundant near Seal Island and the Common and Arctic Terns do not have to travel far to forage. Their numbers grew as we approached the island. Before long, the first puffin flew by the stern, followed by a second moments later. Before we knew it, they had us surrounded. We came out with our hands up and surrendered...more. Atlantic Puffin
5/14/08: (The Maine Highlands) What happens when the guests and the warblers arrive at the same time? For this trip into Maine's 100 Mile Wilderness, the timing was perfect. As the warbler walk began, it became quickly obvious how good the timing was: lots of birds, but no foliage to block the view and no bugs! There were neither mosquitoes nor black flies for the entire two-day tour. The walk started on a humorous note, as a pair of male Hooded Mergansers huddled on the same midstream rock with a female Common Merganser: ménage-a-duck. ...more. Hooded Merganser
1/25/08: (Downeast Acadia) OK...sometimes the guide just gets lucky. Finding a Black-backed Woodpecker and a Thick-billed Murre within the first hour on Schoodic Point is a feat not soon to be duplicated. Saturday was awesome. Winds were light, the day was sunny, and temperatures hovered in the high-20's. The day started at the Seawall Motel in Manset, just a few hundred yards from one of the best sea duck viewing spots in North America. Highlights included Horned and Red-necked Grebes at Seawall Beach in Manset, plus Black Scoters, Great Cormorants, and the usual assortment of Black Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Buffleheads, Black Guillemots, Long-Tailed Ducks and Common Eiders. ...more. Pine Grosbeak
10/1/07: (Mid-Coast) Everything they say about Monhegan Island is true. The island was overrun by hawks, warblers, unusual sparrows, and birders. The flickers were as numerous as Shriners at a circus. After awhile, you come to recognize the flicker panic call, which it screeches whenever pursued by a Merlin, Peregrine, or accipiter. Sunday was the warbler fallout. We tallied 18 species on the day, including Orange-crowned, Cape May, Tennessee, and Northern Waterthrush. ...more. Port Clyde Lighthouse
9/9/07: (Downeast Acadia) Is there anything better than sitting on a seaside chair and watching the whales swim by? A Maine Audubon trip to Lubec-Campobello-Eastport provided plenty of birds and adventure. The tide at South Lubec mud flats had dropped just enough to lure in the shorebirds,  but it was still high enough that the birds were close to us. The sandpiper flock was was too big for practical counting. We scored Red Knots, dozens of Short-billed Dowitchers, 75 Black-bellied Plovers and 1 American Golden Plover. ...more. Campobello Lawn Chairs
7/15/07: (The Maine North Woods) What a weekend at Penobscot Lake Lodge! We didn't have to find the Boreal Chickadees - they found us. This traditional Maine sporting camp is one of two remaining camps in Maine that are accessible only by boat or floatplane. Here, Canada's boreal forest overlaps America's hardwood forest, giving birders a chance at the species of both habitats. In fact, the chickadees foraging behind the cabins are equally likely to be Boreal or Black-capped. ...more. Lonely Moose
7/9/07: (Mid-Coast) They'll be talking about this pelagic trip for a long time. The Red-billed Tropicbird did not disappoint, but the sea of Wilson's Storm-petrels almost stole the show. Things were a little tense at first, since our target bird took several minutes to make an appearance. Eventually everyone on board was treated to good views of the Red-billed Tropicbird, surrounded by Alcids - a truly unique sight. Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills and Arctic Terns were all around the boat. ...more.
Matinicus Rock
7/8/07: (The Maine Highlands) Mt. Katahdin, 20 warblers, 14 moose, plus White-winged Crossbills, Evening Grosbeaks and Gray Jays, all packed into a Baxter State Park weekend. Not bad. Birders from Maine, Georgia, New Jersey, and Hawaii enjoyed the hospitality of the Big Moose Inn and the magnificence of Baxter State Park for this wonderful (but challenging) birding tour...more. Mink
6/10/07: (The Maine Highlands) Moosehead Lake lived up to its reputation for great birding. The lifers piled up as the weekend went along, since the birds seldom stopped singing. Timing was excellent. Gray Jays had just fledged their nestlings, so locating the curious youngsters was not difficult. Boreal Chickadees turned up in multiple places. A weekend highlight: Wilson's Snipe were particularly noisy near any wetland location...more. Boreal Chickadee
5/28/07: (Downeast Acadia) The 4th Downeast Spring Birding Festival served up enough species to place Washington County FIRST in this year's birdiest Atlantic Coastal Counties competition. 75 people from Maine, 14 other states, and New Brunswick attended the festival. Participants and staff found 171 different birds this year...more. Pine Warbler
5/19/07: (Downeast Acadia) Atlantic Puffins were more numerous than most birders expected as Captain Bill Baker's Nigh Duck pulled up to Seal Island amidst Razorbills and Arctic Terns. As we pulled out of Old Quarry Adventures for the trip to Seal Island, quite a few Surf Scoters still floated in the bay for easy viewing. A very large flock of White-winged Scoters later flew by the boat as it motored out to sea. Black Guillemots were particularly numerous for the entire length of the voyage...more. Black Guillemot