Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Autumn Scenes from Mere Point Boat Launch

1. 10-12-14 autumn dock Private Dock at Mere Point Boat Launch 10-12-2014

Autumn is an ever changing season and I have had fun watching it happen at the Mere Point Boat Launch. Not only do the seasons change, but so do the birds as I continue to document the species I am seeing here. One of the things I love about New England are the ever changing skies and the ever changing weather. Now is the time of year where I must take advantage of every nice day, for one never knows when the cold wind and rain will be upon them for days on end!

10-12-14 Autumn boat launch parking lot This was my evening view on October 12, when I walked over to count the birds.

Clear, azure skies hung over long, denim shadows with pops of red against the evergreens. In spite of the Autumn chill, I counted 23 species here this afternoon.

10-12-14 boat launch view The sea was calm and flat, like blue silk draped across a tabletop.

 

10-12-14 clear water I could not believe how clear the water was!

 

10-12-14 Mere Point cove In the cove, the water appeared as glass, ringed by gold as the light reflected off the trees.

But this morning was a different story as I crossed the street to the boat ramp. Clouds billowed up in piles of steel wool. There was much human activity as I walked down the road to the parking lot. People were busy pulling boats out of the water before the coming storm. With all the noise and activity, the birds were mostly in hiding. With crows flying darkly overhead, a few little Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitted in the nearby trees. I was surprised to see a flock of robins take wing and fly overhead as they are becoming more scarce and I rarely see them on my lawn anymore.

10-21-14 Footbridge at boat launch Footbridge at the boat launch.

I walked my regular route, trying to avoid the people and boats, but finally gave up and headed back towards home. I crossed the footbridge and was surprised to see a lone rose in bloom, the last of the season I am sure!

10-21-14 last roses But, as I neared the top of the parking lot, it seemed as if everyone left at once. Suddenly I was alone with the pregnant air heavy with the threat of rain on the horizon. With all the people, trucks and boats gone, the birds relaxed and emerged from their hiding places. I changed my course and headed back to the dock where the tide was just starting to slip out again, revealing the tops of the formerly submerged rocks.

10-21-14 stormy skies at mere point I zipped my coat up tight around me and walked to the end of the dock where some Common Eiders paddled nearby in the water. Farther out a flock of seagulls wheeled and settled down on some rocks or in the tossing sea. A few cormorants dove and surfaced with their long, snake-like necks emerging like spears from the cold depths. Soon they will be gone and the winter ducks will return to this bay, but for now we are in the overlap, the in-between time, the fading days of this year. As I stood at the end of the dock a pair of Black Ducks flew by with fast beating wings and landed in the cove. I stood at the end of the dock looking back and wondering if this would be my last time out here. I know one of these days I will walk over and the dock with be pulled in and stacked in the parking lot. That’s when I will know we are settling in for the winter for sure. Right now we are in for three days of rain and I will be stuck at home trying to get caught up on all the things I have neglected while I have been out birding and making trips to Connecticut and back! As i crossed the street and walked across my sparrow-covered lawn a few rain drops fell, and I tucked my binoculars inside my coat to protect them form the rain. I had barely closed the door to my house when the skies opened up and rain came down in buckets! It soon subsided, but then came back with a vengeance and it has been raining off and on for the rest of the day. On a bright note, I had my 102nd bird species in the yard this morning when I found a Swamp Sparrow mixed in with all the White-throated Sparrows that have inundated my yard in the past week!

10-21-14 view from dock The view from the end of the dock this morning 10-21-14

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Androscoggin Riverwalk

1. androscoggin river-kab At the bend in the river 9-23-14

The leaves had barely started to turn when I took a walk along the Androscoggin River in Brunswick, Maine on September 23rd. While I had done the Riverwalk twice before, I had always started from the southern end of the trail off Water Street. This time I drove to the northern trailhead on Grove Street and headed south. This part of the trail lies closer to busy Route 1, so I did not see as many birds, but I di see a few. I found the traffic a bit annoying, until I found a little side trail that took me down a step embankment and onto the shore of the Androscoggin River right where it turns Northwest to flow into Merrymeeting Bay! I keep hoping to find lots of migrating ducks here, but so far I have found none. All was quiet as I sat and watched the clear, cold water flow by. With the steep embankment and all the trees, it blocked the noise of the highway and I found this a tranquil place to sit and think. Eventually I was joined by a single migrating Eastern Phoebe and that was just fine with me!

2. path to river-kab The trail leading in.

 

3. reflections-kab Riverbank Reflections

 

4. bend in the river-kab A tranquil place to sit.

5. phoebe-kab Eastern Phoebe in the woods.

 

6. walking back-kab Walking out to main trail.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ghostly Birds

1. October ghoul bird-kab1. October Ghoul Bird

2. three witches-kab 2. The Three Witches from MacBeth

3. winged phantom-kab 3. Winged Phantom

See more Halloween Birds and play the Spooky Bird Name Game at

Birding is Fun

Halloween Birds

I am posting on Birding is Fun a bit late this month due to my regular day being needed for a different post. It worked out well since I decided to have a little Halloween fun and play with the names of some bird species. There are more birds and names over on BiF. The correct names of these three species are listed below. Before scrolling down for the answers, can you name these birds?

Happy Halloween!

4. october sky-kab

Answers:

  1. American Crow (October Ghoul Bird)
  2. White-faced Ibis (Three witches from MacBeth)
  3. Snowy Egret (Winged Phantom)

Friday, October 10, 2014

I Discover a New Pond at Brunswick Landing

1. autumn-kab Autumn is underway in Brunswick Landing 9-22-14

So many times on my way to or from the store I drive through former Brunswick naval air Station which is now know as Brunswick Landing. It is an extensive property and is also an eBird Hotspot! I have been birding here since May of this year when I first learned about it. There are so many places I have not yet explored and so, On September 22nd on my way to the store I drove in form the south and decided to turn onto a new road. the weather was nice enough for me to drive with my windows open and when I heard a bunch of birds calling form an abandoned parking lot, I pulled in and parked and then got out. At first I saw Black-capped chickadees, but I followed them into the woods and discovered a new pond with more birds in the trees and on the water.

2. wood ducks-kab I know of a small pond at the north end of the property, and that is where I found some Hooded mergansers previously, but this one was in the middle. I had seen on the eBird reports that others had seen wood ducks and other ducks on Brunswick Landing Property, but I had never found any. Now I did. I used the trees as cover and slowly crept closer. I was hoping for a better look and better photographs, but the sun was behind the birds and the shadows were deep and dark. I only got off 1 or 2 shots before they slowly moved further away, and then some of them took wing and bolted! I decided to stop in my tracks, for I did not want to scare the birds.

3. red-breasted nuthatches-kab Red-breasted Nuthatches were all over the trees in this woodland!

I found them in numerous areas on this day!

4. wood pewee-kab

I think this is an Eastern Wood Pewee, but I never did get a good shot of the face and head. It was in the trees surrounding the pond. Below you can see a photo of its wing.

5. wing-kab This is what you see when you look up in the woods!

 

6. woodland pond-kab This is the pond as seen from the eastern end. the sun is setting just beyond the trees at the far end. I could hear an osprey calling but did not see one overhead, but then I looked up in a dead snag near the pond and there was the osprey on a limb with a fish in its talons and a crow on a branch above making a ruckus and trying to annoy the osprey. The osprey was still there with the fish when I left!

7. osprey in tree-kab Osprey with fish at Brunswick Landing 9-22-14

There are at least 3 to 4 osprey nest on Brunswick Landing and I used to see the birds every single time I drove through, but I have not seen an osprey there since this day. I suspect they are starting to migrate away and soon they will be gone until next spring. Brunswick Landing is an eBird Hotspot and you can see the most current birding information by clicking on the link.

Currently there are some changes taking place on the property. I have noticed they have cut down a large area of trees near the south entrance. They have also mowed the grass surrounding the airfield and have put up some new lights and distance signposts at the end of the runway. It also looks like they are getting ready to develop more of the property near the north end as I have seen more cars and trucks parked on Katahdin Road and near the temporary trailer set up there. Still, there are plenty of places to bird in peace and I will keep going there. I am waiting to see if they keep the south entrance open for the winter, or block it off for the season like they did last year. It will make it much more difficult for me to get in and bird as I will have to drive all the way around to get in the north entrance and then drive all the way back out and around again to get home, whereas now I can just drive through. We shall see!

Here are my most recent Brunswick Landing checklists:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Birding Brunswick Town Commons

1. town commons sign 9-7-14 

Ever since moving to Brunswick, Maine I have driven past the Brunswick Town Commons. Though it’s name seems to suggest that you would find it in the center of town, it is not. It is on Route 123 heading south towards Harpswell. When I first moved here in February it was covered in snow. Then Spring came and the trails all looked like mud. Then summer came and so did the humidity, ticks, and the mosquitoes. Again, I stayed away. But finally at the beginning of September, I decided to take a walk there one Sunday afternoon while Gus was watching football. I had no idea what I would find or how far I would go, but I was up for the adventure, and so I struck out.

2. Brunswick town commons 9-7-14 This is the parking lot and entrance to the commons.

 

3. DSC_0222 Information sign with trail map.

 

4. forest path at Brunswick Town commons 2 Tall pines towered over me as I headed down the trail.

At first I could still hear traffic on the road and no birds, but as I got farther in, the traffic noise faded and the birds began to call.

5. DSC_0223 Then I came to a fork in the trail and read this sign.

Interesting stuff!

6. BCCH-kab I found the Maine State Bird-a Black-capped Chickadee!

 

7. warbler-kab I gave myself warbler neck always looking up trying to identify these small birds!

I did find a few warblers in one area of the trail where there were some saplings in sunlight. But, many areas of the trail were dark and damp and quiet.

8. moss covered tree 9-7-14 I loved this moss covered tree!

 

9. woodland trail 9-7-14 To walk in the Brunswick Town Commons is to walk in sunlight and shadow.

 

10. breakfast at BTC 9-24-14 Breakfast in the forest 9-24-14

I had such a good time on September 7th that I went back on September 24th when I had to go to town early for some errands. When I was done I bought myself some breakfast and drove to the commons to dine in the forest with the birds. I remember there were sparrows, chickadees, warblers and nuthatches calling as I ate. When I was done eating I put my trash in the car and headed down the same trail as last time, but when I got to the fork, I went the other way.

11. sun dappled forest BTC 9-24-14 Sun dappled moss beside the trail.

 

12. Brunswick town commons marker I came to this marker alongside the trail, but after reading it I saw the trail went further, so I followed it. It went behind some houses and ended at a stone pillar in the woods. Then, to my astonishment, I saw a pair of Winter Wrens in the brush! I froze in my tracks and tried to quietly raise my camera to take a picture, but the birds saw me and disappeared into the thick undergrowth!

13. In the woods 9-24-14 This is the view from the spot where I saw the wrens!

The trail did not go on from there, so I turned and headed back. As I rounded the corner on the main trail, I saw something in the middle of the path.

14. birds on path-kab At first I thought it was some dry leaves blowing across the trail…

 

15. hermit thrush-kab But no…it was a bird!

Actually there were four of them! A whole family of thrushes!

But which kind?

16. hermit thrush-kab Rufous tail and wings with speckled breast=Hermit Thrush!

The American Robin is really a thrush and you can see the similarity in their eyes and posture. When robins are newly fledged, you can still see their spotted breast for a time until they reach adult plumage. I really liked Brunswick Town Commons and will probably go back to walk here again, at least until the snow flies! While I did not see a lot of species on my walks, I did see some really good birds, and the Winter Wrens were my First of the Year and my first sighting of this species in Maine!

Click the links below to see my ebird checklists for both dates:

17. pine path 9-7-14

Brunswick Town Commons is an eBird Hotspot