Thursday, September 18, 2014

Birds in the Mist at Scarborough Marsh

1. misty morn-kab 

When you go to the marsh on a misty morn,

1a. trail-kab 

and follow the trail into the rain,

you don’t know what you’ll find

and you know you won’t be the same,

2. shorebirds-kab 

Then the shorebirds fly as you pass by,

thick as fleas against the mud,

as the marsh land grasses winnow and sigh,

3. least sandpiper-kab Least Sandpiper

When shorebirds land under stormy skies,

4. witch of the marsh-kab

and the Witch over the marshland flies

casting her spell over all who dare

enter her land and breath her air


5. leaping leasts-kab Least Sandpipers

then birds careen in a wild dance,

in this wild place of sweet romance,

and sandpipers pipe their flute-like songs

6. semipalmated sandpiper-kab Semipalmated sandpiper

Over the mudflats, over the shores,

over the places they’ll leave before long,

piping their sandpiper migration song,

7. hints of autumn-kab 

When Autumn’s touch starts to show,

8. marshland-kab 

that’s your cue; it’s time to go,

8. snowy ghost-kab

 before the ghost birds start to fly,

9. little blue-kab 

before you start to wonder why,

10. little blue and great blue-kab 

Little Blue and Great Egret too

11. ghosts in teh grass-kab 

hiding in wait, looking for you,


12. blue and blue-kab 

sneaking around in the tall grass,


13. tide goes out-kab 

while the tide rolls out as you walk past,


14. dark mysteries-kab

Concealing dark mysteries hidden in mud,


15. mudflats-kab 

gray morning waits for the returning flood,

bringing the water that feeds all with wings,


16. fisher king-kab under the watchful eye of the Fisher King.

Notes: I had a little fun with this post today. This is the second place that Cynthia and I stopped to bird on August 21st when she came to visit me. We wanted to get near the shore and see all the shorebirds that were migrating through. My biggest surprise was finding the Little Blue Herons in the marsh! I expect them in Florida, I did not know we had them here in Maine! They were new to my Maine Life List and I was glad to add them, though at first they threw me off! We saw at least five of them here, with two full blue adults, two white juveniles, and one in transitional plumage. Juvenile Little Blues hatch white and then molt to their adult blue plumage. You can tell the juveniles are Little Blues and not one of the other white herons/egrets because they have a pale bluish bill tipped in dark bluish gray! We saw flocks of shorebirds here, as well as a few sparrows and other birds, but the shorebirds, egrets, and herons were the highlights, as well as the Belted Kingfisher we saw as we were leaving. We were really here in the afternoon, but I took a little poetic license and set the poem in the morning. Onward to Pine Point Beach next!


17. in the marsh-kab

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Return to Wharton Point

1. least sandpipers-kab Least Sandpipers at Wharton Point 8-21-14

August 21, 2014: the day after my family came to visit I went birding with a fellow birder and blogger named Cynthia Cage. I had met Cynthia once before on an outing of the Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp back in 2011. We have stayed in contact through our blogs in Facebook, so when she was able to come to Maine on her summer vacation, we made plans to meet and bird together. Cynthia met me at my house and we drove over to Wharton Point. After my success in birding there a few days ago, I thought it would be a quick and easy place to start our day. Boy, were we in for a surprise! Easy, yes. Quick, no! There were so many birds!

2. Cynthia Cage at Wharton Point 8-21-14 Here is Cynthia looking at shorebirds in the distance.


3. least sandpiper-kab This is just one of the Least Sandpipers we saw near the boat ramp.

Least Sandpipers are our smallest peep at only 6 inches. They have yellow-green legs, not black like sanderlings or semipalmated sandpipers. We also saw a lot of species in the surrounding meadow.

4. goldfinch-kab Goldfinch in meadow.


5. Nelson's sparrow-kab Nelson’s Sparrow

Though it is hidden in the grass, notice the orangish face.

Cynthia has a better picture on her blog. She had a longer lens than me.

6. side view-kab Nelson’s Sparrow


7. bobolinks-kab Two blurry bobolinks in the meadow!


8. gull-kab A lone Bonaparte’s Gull in the bay.

I thought we would be here for about a half and hour, but there were so many birds and more kept flying in! We got into the car to leave at least twice, then jumped back out when we saw new birds! Our destination was the Scarborough Marsh, but we ended up seeing the most birds species right here at Wharton Point in Brunswick, Maine! On our way south to Portland we stopped off at Day’s Seafood on Route One in Yarmouth to eat lunch. Yes, we ate seafood! We had chowder and fried clams and more. We sat outside at the picnic tables and counted more shorebirds in the inlet behind the Seafood shack!

9. yellowlegs-kab Greater Yellowlegs in Yarmouth, ME 8-21-14

Birds seen at Wharton Point on August 21, 2014 with Cynthia Cage:

  1. Black Duck, 1
  2. Common Eider, 20
  3. duck species, 50
  4. Double-crested Cormorant, 3
  5. Great Egret, 2
  6. Snowy Egret, 2
  7. Glossy Ibis, 1
  8. Osprey, 2
  9. Bald Eagle, 1
  10. Greater Yellowlegs, 1
  11. Lesser Yellowlegs, 3
  12. Least Sandpiper, 5
  13. peep species, 20
  14. Bonaparte’s Gull, 1
  15. Ring-billed Gull, 1
  16. Herring Gull, 14
  17. gull species, 10
  18. Common Tern, 1
  19. Morning Dove, 10
  20. Blue Jay, 3
  21. American Crow, 3
  22. Tree Swallow, 12
  23. Barn Swallow, 1
  24. Gray Catbird, 3
  25. Cedar Waxwing, 1
  26. Common Yellowthroat, 4
  27. Yellow Warbler, 2
  28. Nelson’s Sparrow, 1
  29. Song Sparrow, 6
  30. Sparrow species, 1
  31. Bobolink, 4
  32. blackbird species, 1
  33. House Finch, 5
  34. American Goldfinch, 15

We were here for just under two hours and this was only the beginning of our day! Come back for parts 2 and 3 tomorrow and the next day! There are many more birds to see as we continue to search for shorebirds on migration! If you click on the link for Wharton’s Point you can see a checklist of the most recent sightings on eBird and who has seen what. This checklist is updated in real time so you will never miss a bird. it is a good reference point for those new to the area or coming here to bird. click on any of the labels below to see all posts related to that subject.



10. least sandpiper-kab

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weather, Tides, and Birds at Wharton Point

1. Wharton Point-kab Mudflats and marsh at Wharton Point 8-17-14

August 17, 2014: With shorebird migration well underway I have been taking many more trip to Wharton Point in Brunswick, Maine which sits at the top of Maquoit Bay. While I can see bits of Maquoit Bay from my living room window in the cottage we rent down on Mere Point, most of the shorebirds hang out at the top of the bay at Wharton Point. I arrived early on a foggy morning to see what I could see, but when I first arrived, everything was shrouded in fog. This is what it looked like when I first arrived:

2. fog and ducks-kab A flock of ducks, probably Common Eiders, far out in the bay.


3. receding tide-kab As the tide recedes, the mudflats are revealed.


4. snowy egrets-kab Snowy Egrets feeding on the mudflats in fog.


5. meadow flowers-kab The only color was in the meadow flowers surrounding the bay.


6. plover-kab I saw a Semipalmated Plover fly over and land near the boat ramp.


7. marsh grass-kab Marsh grass, mudflats, and water in bands of silver and green!


8. sandpiper-kab A Semipalmated Sandpiper picks through the mud.

From what I understand, Semipalmated Sandpipers are the most numerous sandpipers seen on the coast of Maine and they are frequently in the company of Semipalmated Plovers.

9. layers-kab Here you can see the layers of habitat with the mudflats in the lower left corner, then salt marsh grass, meadow, and forest. This meadow has been home to bobolinks and sparrows all summer long.

10. mud flats-kab The longer I stayed, the more the mudflats were revealed.

I was here for an hour and a half. If you scroll back up to the first photos you can see the tide was just starting to go out.

11. tide line-kab Now you can see the glistening mudflats with the tide line much farther out.

When it reaches its lowest point my estimate is that it is a football field or more away! Then all the shorebirds and gulls feed along the tide line and the ducks and cormorants are even farther away in deeper water.

12. clearing skies-kab I love the colors of the mudflats and marsh grass!


13. semiplamated plover-kab A Semipalmated Plover picks through the mud for food.


14. boblink n sparrow-kab Song Sparrow and Bobolink in a bush alongside the boat ramp.

Does anyone see a third bird in this picture?

When I first saw this fall/female bobolink I wasn’t sure what it was. I know that I have seen Nelson’s Sparrows here but further research confirmed what I suspected. This is a bobolink. The females always look like this but the males are black with a white back and a yellow cap on their nape during breeding season. In the fall the males molt to look just like the females. I didn’t get a chance to ask the bird what sex it was. Besides, that would not have been polite!

15. bobolink-kab Bobolink in bush.


16. hofi-kab This House Finch eating berries sure gave me the feeling of Christmas!

This is the third bird seen in the back of the bush in the photo above. It is a female Common Yellowthroat. Common Yellowthroats are a species of Warblers that tend to hang out near water. While the males are much brighter with yellow faces and a snazzy black mask lined in white, the subtle female has her own beauty as well. Common Yellowthroats have a very horizontal posture and a longer, slightly de-curved beak which you can see in this photo. They are usually very curious and bold and will usually respond to pishing and pop right up on a branch for you. However, I did not have to pish this one out. She popped up all by herself to look at me!

17. common yellowthroat-kab 

18. COYE-kab

These are the birds I saw on Wharton Point on August 17, 2014 at 7:35 AM. I did a stationary count and was there for 1:32 hours.

  1. Double-crested Cormorant, 6
  2. Great Blue Heron, 2
  3. Great Egret, 4
  4. Snowy Egret, 24
  5. Black-bellied Plover, 5
  6. Semipalmated Plover, 1
  7. Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs, 12
  8. Semipalmated Sandpiper, 5
  9. Ring-billed Gull, 8
  10. Herring Gull, 12,
  11. Great Black-backed Gull, 3
  12. Common Tern, 9
  13. Mourning Dove, 5
  14. Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 1
  15. Eastern Phoebe, 1
  16. Red-eyed Vireo, 1
  17. Blue Jay, 2
  18. American Crow, 5
  19. Barn Swallow, 1
  20. American Robin, 2
  21. Gray Catbird, 1
  22. Cedar Waxwing, 4
  23. Common Yellowthroat, 2
  24. Savannah Sparrow, 4
  25. Song Sparrow, 4
  26. Nelson’s Sparrow, 2
  27. blackbird species, 30
  28. House Finch, 6
  29. American Goldfinch, 5

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hungry Herring Gull at Wharton Point

DSC_0043-kab Herring Gull 8-17-14

Just about a month ago on a Sunday afternoon I went to Wharton Point to see what I could see. Among the many migrating birds I saw was a resident Herring Gull getting ready to dine. As the tide goes out the gulls dig in the mud flats for clams, then fly over a hard surface like a rock or a cement boat ramp and from a great height drop the clam and let it smash on the surface below. While I have seen this happen several times, this was one of my first chances to photograph it up close!



DSC_0045-kab You can just see the clam dropping at the edge of the photo.


DSC_0046-kab Dinner’s ready!


DSC_0047-kab Yum!

Notes from my nest: We’ve had a sudden downturn in temperatures here and for the first time this season I put on long pants and shoes and socks when I got up early this morning to meet a fellow birder over at the Mere Point Boat Launch. I met Dave White and his daughter, Laurie and while Dave photographed birds, I counted them! I was so pleased to meet his daughter as well, who turns out to be a leftie, jut like me! There are so many birds migrating through and we got good looks at American Redstarts, Black-throated Green Warblers, and half a dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I met Dave through the Facebook Group, Maine Birds, started by Robin Robinson. Dave is off to Florida soon, but will return with the migrating birds in the spring. I would be pleased to bird with him again any time! I am busy working on more blogposts but while you are waiting, here are a few links you can check out, including one to Cynthia’s Blog, a fellow birder I met once before through the group, Birder’s who Blog, Tweet and Chirp. She and I and went birding with a few days after I took these pictures. She is ahead of me and has already posted some of her photos from our day of birding together!