Sunday, September 28, 2014

Just a few Yard Birds

1. rthu male-kab Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird 8-17-14

With migration already underway in August, this might have been the last male Ruby-throated hummingbird I saw for the season.

2. tuvu-kab Turkey Vultures are migrating as well, but I have still seen a few around town.

I saw this one flying over my yard on August 17th.

3. chipping sparrow-kab Chipping sparrows 8-17-14

Chipping Sparrows are still here but will soon be gone as well.

4. juv chipping sparrow-kabA juvenile Chipping Sparrow waits for a turn at the feeder 8-17-14


5. immature broadwing hawk-kab Immature Broad-winged Hawk 8-19-14

On certain days I have seen 6-8 Broad-wings migrating over my yard at one time!

6. female rubythroat-kab My last female Ruby-throat was seen just a few days ago on September 24.

There were plenty of female hummingbirds still hanging around Mere Point until the spotted jewelweed they were feeding on wilted. Their numbers dropped off dramatically after that!

7. blue jay-kab The Blue Jays are back in force after being elusive all summer! 9-24-14


8. goldfinches-kab Goldfinches are already molting back to their dull winter plumage 9-24-14


9. birds at feeder-kab I’m already preparing for winter by moving the feeders into positions where I cannot only see the birds, but can get to the feeders more easily. I just moved this feeder over to the south side of the house where it can be seen from the dining room windows! I had to get the pole in the ground while it was still unfrozen!

It will be fun to see what bird species this Fall and winter brings. I am hoping I will finally cross the 100 species mark for Yard Birds!

Note: My camera lens motor is failing me and I really need to decide if I am going to buy a new lens or a new camera. Please bear with me while I figure this out. In the meantime, my photos are a bit more fuzzy because the camera chatters and shakes whenever I try to focus on anything. I usually wait until it stops to snap the photo, but by then the birds have usually flown away form the noise! Grrrr! If I change cameras, then I will have to get a new photo processing program as the one I have goes with my Nikon D80. So, we will see!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sunset on the Kennebec River


The Route 201A bridge over the Kennebec River in Norridgewock, ME

As seen from Oosoola Park on September 5, 2014


DSC_0157 Ducks in the river


Spotted Sandpiper in the cove at dusk.

Oosoola Park is an eBird Hotspot

My eBird checklist from September 5, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Foggy Morning Photo Essay

1. DSC_0464 Great Blue Heron 8-26-2014


2. DSC_0459 


3. warbler-kab 


4. phoebe-kab Eastern Phoebe

5. heron-kab 


6. boats-kab 


7. flowers-kab 

A Foggy Morning on Mere Point

(click the link above to read the original story)

Note: The former post used cell phone shots. These are the photos I took with my Nikon D80.

8. foggy road-kab

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Labor Day on Bailey Island

DSC_0470 September 1, 2014 View from Bailey Island in Harpswell, Maine

Just one look at the photo about is enough to remind me I no longer live in the desert! I had family visiting me over Labor Day, and though they are from Maine, they had never been to Bailey Island, so we hopped in the car and took a drive! Everyplace I have lived has its own colors, and these are the colors of the Coast of Maine!


DSC_0473 Great Black-backed Gull


DSC_0478 Black Guillemot in Winter plumage already!

I was a bit thrown off when I first saw this black and white bird swimming and diving in  the cove off Bailey Island. I knew it wasn’t a duck by its bill, but I knew it wasn’t a gull because it kept diving below the surface! I was totally stumped until I looked it up and discovered that Black Guillemots molt to this color for winter!

 Well, I just learned something new!

DSC_0485 Now if I see one again, I will know what I am looking at!


DSC_0486 A lone laughing gull flew overhead as well.

While it’s not the best photo or lighting, you can see it is starting to molt out of its summer black hood as well. All signs that Fall and then Winter are not too far away!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Birding Pine Point with Cynthia

1. juv Great black-backed gull-kab Juvenile Great Black-backed Gull 8-21-14

August 21, 2014: After leaving Scarborough Marsh we drove east down the road to Pine Point where the Scarborough River empties into the Atlantic ocean. Now Cynthia was directing me, as I had never been to this location and she had. We found our way to the mouth of the river and parked in the parking lot. With a fishing wharf and a few restaurants around the first birds we saw were gulls. I loved this checkerboard pattern of the juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. This pattern helps me distinguish it from the similar dull gray juvenile Herring Gulls which we also saw. Notice the pale tip to the extreme end of the bill, another distinguishing characteristic. Below is a juvenile Herring Gull for comparison.

2. juv herring gull-kab Juvenile Herring Gull at Pine Point

Note the all dark bill and the sooty appearance. Both gulls have pink legs.

3. gull with glass-kab Cynthia and I were both alarmed to see this gull picking up pieces of broken glass. We could not get to this bird, but eventually it dropped the glass.

4. bonaparte's gull-kab Down in the estuary we found a elegant Bonaparte’s Gull!


5. cormorant-kab Across the inlet on a sandbar an Double-crested Cormorant danced!


6. black-bellied plover-kab There we a few Black-bellied Plovers to be seen!


7. dowitchers-kab And Short-billed Dowitchers probed in the mudflats!


8. dowitcher-kab This was my first sighting of dowitchers in Maine!


9. peeps-kab The mudflats were covered in shorebirds!

This flock was mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated plovers!

There were at least 200 of them!

10. dowitchers-kab And even more Dowitchers!


11. willet-kab This juvenile or winter Willet threw me off at first with its dull gray plumage after having seen the more brightly colored breeding plumage all summer.

And then there was this…

12. mystery peep-kab In the midst of all the other sandpipers and plovers I saw a bird that looked different. It was larger than the other peeps and had a different color and posture. I was standing on the shore of the mudflats with a rapidly sinking sun and my time was running out. I could not even imagine what species of sandpiper this was and I did not have time to get out bird guides and compare shorebirds, So, I take a few photos and send a quick text to my eBird buddy and best birding friend in Tucson. I know I can count on him to help me and he does. I ask him to check the eBird records and see what other shorebirds are being seen down here at the Scarborough Marsh, for Pine Point is at the extreme eastern edge of the marsh. He quickly texts me back that there are White-rumped Sandpipers being seen! White-rumped Sandpipers would be a Life Bird for me! I call Cynthia over and ask her to photograph this bird, as her camera has a longer lens than mine.

13. peep sp-kab Unfortunately the sunlight is behind the bird and in front of us! Still, we do our best as we try to figure this out. White-rumped Sandpipers are larger than Semipalmated Sandpipers. They have short dark legs and their wingtips project past their tails. You cannot see their white-rumps except when they are in flight. There are a few other distinguishing characteristics but they are not easily observed in this photograph. However, to me me this looks like the wing tips stick out just a tad farther than the tail does.

14. peep-kab As we turned away from this mud channel to walk towards the wharf, we saw another birder with a scope. We though perhaps he would help as, as most birders would. As we drew nearer, I recognized the person, so I asked him for help. I showed him my photos but the lighting was poor and he could not see well enough to tell. However, he did tell us that there were at least 5 White-rumped sandpipers out there. So, I asked him if he could show us one in his scope so we could see the difference for sure. While I do not recall his exact words, he declined our request and blew us off. I was a bit surprised and taken aback, but we politely walked away and left him to his birding. However, I could not help but thinking how amazing it was that my friend, Chris Rohrer was willing to help me from 3000 miles away, while a birder who was present would not. I do not know if this man thought we were going to tag along and follow him for the rest of the evening or not. We were not going to do that. We just wanted some help. In all other cases when I have met birders in the field and have asked them for help they have always helped me. While I do not know this man well, I do know him, and I was surprised by his reaction. But he need not fear. I will never ask him for help again.

15. yellowlegs-kab Meanwhile, these wading Greater Yellowlegs were enough to make us both smile!

Cynthia and I walked up on the wharf and sat down to watch the Common Terns fishing and flying and feeding their chicks. The adults would perch on the piers and watch the water.

16. common tern-kab Adult Common Tern

Then they would take flight…

17. tern-kab 

When they did, the chicks would take up a pleading cry!


18. baby tern-kab There were two tern chicks perched on similar green balls out in the harbor.

For some reason we only saw one getting fed by both parents no matter how many fish they caught! As we sat there the tide started to come in and we decided it was getting late and was time to leave. We walked back towards our car and were about to get in, when we noticed the peeps were all being pushed closer to shore by the incoming tide. Not wanting to risk missing the possible White-rumped Sandpipers, we got out of the car and headed back to the banks to see if we could find one in the hundreds of peeps. It was at this point we saw the birder again and, apparently he may have felt a bit bad about the way he treated us, so he offered us this tip: “The incoming tide will force the birds closer to shore and you should be able to pick out the White-rumped Sandpipers. They are in in there.” Then he left with his spotting scope thrown over his shoulder. Nothing like stating the obvious!

19. boats at Pine Point 8-21-14 The Harbor as seen from the parking lot.

As the tide rolled in and the peeps crowed closer and closer to shore Cynthia and I searched and search for White-rumped Sandpipers. We tried to find a bird that looked different from the others, but to no avail. Finally, as the water squeezed the birds onto an ever narrower strip of land, the whole flock took flight and most flew off leaving just a few stragglers on the shore.

20. shorebirds-kab Semipalmated and Black-bellied plovers on the shore.


21. snowy egrets-kab We finally called it quits as a flock of Snowy Egrets flew overhead.

Once back in the car we drove the short distance across the street to Pine Point Beach and the open Atlantic. We were hoping we would see sanderlings or some other shore birds here, but all we found were foot prints, gulls, and a few remaining beach goers.

21. Cindy at Pine Point beach 8-21-14 Cynthia takes aim at something on Pine Point Beach


22. footprints 8-21-14 Footprints in soft sand.


23. sunset at Pine point beach 8-21-14Oh, and a beautiful Sunset on Pine Point Beach!

It grew dark as we drove home and even darker for Cynthia as she drove back to her cottage on the west side of the state. She must have gotten home well after 11 PM and her drive was all back roads, as there is no East-West highway in Maine. Still, we birded until the day was done and we had so much fun! I am so glad I was able to spend this amazing day birding with Cynthia! And when it was all over, I was quite surprised to realize that we saw the most species of birds right at Wharton Point five miles from my house! However, I would not have gotten a Life Bird or added to my Maine Life List if we had not gone to Scarborough Marsh and Pine Point! In the end we saw 35 species at Wharton Point; 24 species at Scarborough Marsh-Eastern Road; and 22 species at Scarborough Marsh-Pine Point! Thanks for a great day, Cynthia!


24. plovers-kab