|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,
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.
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.
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
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
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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
(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
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.
(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
(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.
(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
(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!
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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
(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,
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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:
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
|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.
|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.