Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Birthday Birding at Biddeford Pool

1. Maine's rocky coast-kab Snow Covered Rocks at Biddeford Pool 2-22-15

Ever since moving to Maine I have heard of Biddeford Pool on eBird and the Maine Birds Facebook page. It is a legendary birding hotspot and is well known as THE PLACE to go and see snowy owls in winter. I had been here for a year now and have never birded Biddeford Pool. So, when my birthday rolled around that was my birthday wish…to bird Biddeford Pool!

2. first view-kab This was my first look at the ocean from along Ocean Avenue in Biddeford Pool. Biddeford Pool appears to be a neighborhood of fancy homes along Maine’s rocky coast near Saco. The roads are narrow with no parking signs everywhere. The haze you see at the bottom of this photo if from me trying to shoot a photo over the very high snow banks that lined the road. Gus found a small parking spot and I got out of the car and walked down the road that was covered with rapidly melting snow. This was the first warm day in a very long time and the temperature went to the mid 30’s to 40 degrees! I had to dodge or wade through quite a few puddles.

3. eiders-kab Common Eiders are indeed Common along the coast of Maine!


4. rocks and snow-kab I love the snow covered rocks!


5. waxwings in fruit tree-kab I first heard and then saw this small flock of waxwings.

6. cedar waxwing-kab Cedar Waxwing in a fruit tree.

6. great cormorants-kab On a bit of a rocky island or sandbar I spotted these great Cormorants.

Is that perhaps a seal on the right between 2 cormorants?

7. more rocks-kab More beautiful rocks!

8. rocks n waves-kab Rocks and Waves at Biddeford Pool 2-22-15

9. CANG-kab Canada Geese between the rocks at Biddeford Pool.

10. horned grebe in pool-kab Finally we drove over to the actual pool of Biddeford Pool where I spotted this Horned Grebe.

11. ducks in pool-kab American Black Ducks napping on the ice at Biddeford Pool.

There is an inlet where water flows in and out of the pool and there is a public parking area here called Vine’s Landing where one can launch a small boat or kayak. Here the water is flowing swiftly and I spotted another horned grebe diving and fishing. I am not sure what it is that it came up with, but I captured this series of photos of the bird with food in its beak.

12. horned grebe in inlet-kab 

13. horned grebe-kab 

14. horned grebe-kab 

15. horned grebe-kab 

I never did find a snowy owl here, but now that I know my way, perhaps I will go back again. Biddeford pool is a little over an hour south of where I live and I hear there is an Audubon site there where one can hike out to a point along the ocean. A very rare Surf Bird has been spotted there lately, the first ever seen in Maine, but I have not had time to go see it for myself. Though, hopefully all this snow is melted by now!

16. GBBG-kab Great Black-backed Gull with a White-winged Scoter in the background.

Gus took me out to breakfast in Westbrook on my birthday, then we went shopping at the Wildbirds Unlimited store in South Portland where I bought a new bird feeding platform to go with my feeder pole system. We finished the day at Biddeford Pool where I counted all these birds. The Great Cormorants and the Horned Grebes were my First of the Year for those species!

Below are just a couple of the numerous eBird Hotspots for Biddeford Pool:


17. my new feeder platform-kab

My birthday feeder platform with Common Redpolls 2-23-15

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Winter Birds on Orr’s and Bailey Islands

1. Land's End-kab February 17, 2015: Ever since my daughter moved back to Maine last November I had been wanting to take her for a drive to Land’s End in Harpswell. With the crazy, snowy winter we had the weather was usually bad when she came over to visit me and we could not go anywhere. Finally we had a nice enough day to take a drive and so we did. Of course, I always have my binoculars and camera with me on occasions like this, and I counted birds along the way. My daughter drove my car, so I could pay attention to the birds, and she stopped for me whenever we saw something good. The drive down Route 24 to Land’s End is a pleasant and scenic drive and well worth the trip. Here is some of what we saw along the way.

DSC_0118 Common Loons in the cove 2-17-15

DSC_0120 Female Surf Scoter


DSC_0124 Herring Gulls Landing on Seaweed Covered Rocks

DSC_0129Male Common Goldeneye in flight

DSC_0131 Looking across the cove to Harpswell Neck

DSC_0132 Mallards in the bay

DSC_0134 Pigeons flying over the cove


DSC_0135 First Winter Male Common Eider, note the white breast and dark back.

The classic eider bill shape is clearly visible with the “widow’s peak” of feathers coming down from the forehead in the middle of the bill.

DSC_0139 Wild Turkeys on a side road.

DSC_0144 House on the island at Land’s End


DSC_0145 A soft light shines over Casco Bay as seen from Land’s End.

Land’s End is in the town of Harpswell which has three different peninsulas or necks that stick out into Casco Bay. Harpswell Neck is down Route 123, while Orr’s and Bailey Islands and Cundy’s Harbor are all reached via Route 24 out of Brunswick. There is only one road  that connects the two main peninsulas of Harpswell. It is called Mountain Road and crosses a bridge over the Ewing Narrows. Other than that you have to drive into Brunswick to get from one side of Harpswell to the other. Bailey Island and Land’s End are both eBird Hotspots.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle on Mere Point Road 3-17-15

We have a nesting pair of Bald Eagles on Mere Point Road and I often get to see them as I drive by. I spotted this fine specimen back in March on a branch overlooking Maquoit Bay. Every now and then I can just see a white head peaking up from the deep nest high in a pine tree. Soon there will be babies. Yesterday I saw one fly across the road on my way into town with my daughter, and I can only guess that these are the same birds I see flying over my yard every now and then.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Winter Birding around Brunswick, ME

1. downy woodpecker-kab Downy woodpecker at the Mere Point Boat Launch 2-13-15

I find it hard to go into town to do errands because I just can’t seem to go anywhere without stopping to count birds! This makes all my trips to town take much longer than they do for most people, but I think of it as my reward for doing all the errands! On February 13, after spotting the Barred owl in my own yard, I went into town and counted birds at Brunswick Landing.

2. brunswick landing-kab During the winter they block the road of near the south end of the landing so one can no longer drive through to the golf course and out onto Route 123. However, they do still allow walkers and bikers to go through, though you needed skies or snow shoes to get through here this winter! Beyond these barriers is the area where many good birds were being seen, including some red crossbills which I may have seen on March 27 but didn’t know it! How could I not know it? Because I saw them in the distance fly across the road all in a line calling to each other, but I am not familiar with this species and did not recognize the behavior or the call. When I described it to another birder I encountered at a later date, he said that was probably them! Yikes! I have been back several times looking for them but to no avail!

3. black capped chickadee-kab Birding Brunswick Landing was an easy choice for me this winter, since I can bird most of it from my car, and with my dislocated arm, I did not want to get out and walk and risk falling and reinjuring it again!

4. mallards-kab It was hard finding open water with ducks in it this winter, but I found this small pond on the Parkview Adventists Hospital campus in Brunswick where a small portion stayed open all winter. Mallards and Black Ducks were the only species I saw there however. On my way home I would often drive through the Mere Point Boat Launch and count birds from the safely and warmth of my vehicle.

5. white-throated sparrow-kab I spotted this White-throated Sparrow there on 2-13-15

Now the snow is finally melting and it’s almost hard to believe it was this deep just 2 months ago. Migration is in full swing here and while I only added 3 species to my 2015 yard list in February, I have added 5 species in March and 7 species so far this month with a Chipping Sparrow showing up yesterday and an Eastern Phoebe arriving just this morning! I am up to 111 Total species for this yard with 52 species seen so far this year and 35 species seen so far this month!

6 dowo-kab Downy woodpeckers are seen here year round!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Barred Owl on a Winter’s Morn

1. barred owl in yard-kab Barred Owl in my yard 2-13-14 at 7:30 A.M.

It’s been two months since I finally photographed a Barred Owl in my yard here on Mere Point. Ever since moving back to Maine over a year ago I had been searching for this owl. I finally saw and photographed one on January 1st just up the road on Rossmore Road. It took until January 21st to finally see one in my own yard and for a few weeks I saw it on a regular basis, but I am glad I got this photo on February 13th because I have not seen one here again since February 14th!  I think the deep snow we had here made it hard on all the owls this winter.

2. barred owl-kab

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Birding Sabattus Pond

1. RWBL-kab Red-winged Blackbird at Sabattus Pond 4-2-15

Last week I decided to take part in the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz, so I drove over to Sabattus Pond in Androscoggin County which is the only place I have seen a Rusty Blackbird since moving back to Maine. I saw one in the swampy section across the road from the south end of Sabattus Pond last fall just at dusk. This time I got up early to drive over and be there early in the morning when I know the blackbirds love to get up and sing. I parked my car in the driveway of the Antiques Mall and rolled down my windows to watch and listen. It was a cold, raw, gray day and I was hoping to see something good. Since the pond itself was still frozen, I concentrated my efforts on the bog across the street. But, while there were plenty of redwings and grackles, I never once saw or heard a Rusty Blackbird. Rusty Blackbird populations have crashed in the last decade, falling by up to 90%! Efforts are being made to understand their decline and discover where the birds are, and where they aren’t.

While I did not see any Rusty Blackbirds, I did see a few others.

2. song sparrow-kab Can you find the bird in this photo?

3. SOSP-kab Song Sparrow!

While most people look for Robins as their first sign of spring, most birders know that the return of the blackbirds is really the first sign of spring, along with the return of the Turkey Vultures!

4. TUVU-kab Turkey Vulture flying over the bog at the south end of Sabattus Pond 4-2-15. There were five in all, but this series is all of one bird as it flew closer and closer to me and then over my head!

5. TUVU-kab 

6. TUVU-kab 

7. TUVU-kab Turkey Vultures show silver wing linings when seen from below.

Shortly after the vultures lifted off and disappeared into the steel colored sky I caught sight of a different raptor, a young male Northern Harrier! It was my first sighting of this species this year!

8. NOHA-kab Male Harriers are a beautiful gray above and white below with black wing tips. With the obvious brown in this bird I am thinking it is a young male. Female harriers are brown and all harriers have a facial disk that is reminiscent of an owl.

9. flying away-kab Northern Harrier Flying away

10. clasic white rump-kab The classic white rump patch is an easy field mark.

11. classic dihedral-kab Harriers, also known as Marsh Hawks, course low over fields and wetlands hunting for prey. They hold their wings in a slight dihedral like a turkey vulture and rock and sway on the wind. I love to watch them fly.

Here is a list of the birds I saw at the South End of Sabattus Pond on April 2, 2015 at 8:10 a.m. I counted birds for 60 minutes and drove and walked .7 miles.

  1. Turkey Vulture-6
  2. Northern Harrier-1
  3. Bald Eagle-2
  4. Ring-billed Gull-6
  5. Mourning Dove-7
  6. Downy Woodpecker-1
  7. Downy/hairy woodpecker-1
  8. Blue Jay-1
  9. American Crow-11
  10. Black-capped Chickadee-3
  11. American Robin-1
  12. Song Sparrow-3
  13. Red-winged Blackbird-8
  14. Common Grackle-24
  15. blackbird species-3
  16. passerine species-3



Note: With the weather improving it has been too nice to stay inside and write poetry or blog posts or do house work. Every time I leave the house to do errands I find myself not returning until late afternoon, tired but happy, so happy to be able to go outside again! My range of motion with my left arm continues to improve and I almost feel normal again!