Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trick or Treat Turkey

1. fake turkey-kab Wild Turkey on top of power poles on Brunswick Landing?

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I got faked out. This summer while driving through Brunswick Landing I was amazed to see male Wild Turkeys atop power poles every time I drove through Brunswick Landing. I had no idea why they were up there but could only guess that they were standing guard over nesting hen turkeys somewhere below. Every time I drove through I saw these birds, but soon started to notice they were in the exact same locations. What faithful birds I thought to myself and I faithfully eBirded them. Sometimes I even saw turkeys running alongside the road in the grasses, but these four males were always atop their poles. Finally one day I stopped to take their pictures and when I finally offloaded the photos I was shocked! I had been faked out by fake turkeys!

2. fake turkey on Brunswick Landing pole-kab I could only guess that they were put up there to keep osprey from landing on or building nests on these poles as there are a large number of nesting osprey on Brunswick Landing. I sheepishly went back and corrected all my eBird lists. I felt so dumb and blind. It just goes to show that you are never too old to learn, or make a fool of yourself!

Trick or Treat on me!

3. gobble gobble-kab

Happy Halloween to you!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Birding Livermore, Jay, and Wilton, ME

1. GCFL-kab Great Crested Flycatcher in Livermore, Maine 6-29-15

When I first became a birder, I did not pay much attention to the flycatchers. In fact, I did not even know there was such a thing as a Great Crested Flycatcher until I went to the New River Birding and Nature Festival in West Virginia in 2009. That was where I saw my first one. Back then I was was living in Tucson, AZ and had already learned about and seen both Brown-Crested Flycatchers, and Ash-throated Flycatchers. The Great Crested Flycatcher is their Eastern counterpart and a very pretty and loud bird! I found this pair in a friend’s front yard in Livermore.

2. nesting in Livermore-kab A pair of Great Crested Flycatchers had taken over an old Purple Martin bird house. You can just see a bit of the nest peeking out one of the holes on the end. I observed these birds for several minutes as they flew in and out of the bird house with insects in their beaks.

3. flyaway-kab Flyaway Flycatcher!

When I left this location I drove farther up the Crash Road (yes, that is its name) to Pine Island in the middle of the Androscoggin River. The Androscoggin is one of the major rivers in Maine and it starts in the western mountains and flows down through Brunswick to Merry Meeting Bay where it joins the Kennebec and 3 other rivers on its journey to the sea.

4. the island-kab I crossed this bridge to get to the Island with turbulent water flowing beneath.


5. the path-kab After parking I wandered down one of the paths to some quiet areas along the shore where I found several species of birds. while I was standing there quietly a mink came wandering along the path towards me. I tried to slowly raise my camera to get a photo without scaring it off, but it saw me and disappeared into the undergrowth.

6. hairy woodpecker-kab So, I took a picture of this Hairy woodpecker instead!


7. the river-kab The bridge on the main road over the Androscoggin River 7-22-15

This area is technically in Jay, Maine and is also in Franklin County instead of Androscoggin County, which is where Livermore, Maine is located.

Before heading home I took a short drive up to Wilton, Maine to see if there were any birds at the lake. While it was nearing sunset, I did find a few species of birds, and I always enjoy the view of the western mountains with Mount Blue beyond.

8. Wilston Lake-kab Wilton Lake, also called Wilson Pond 7-22-15


9. Mount Blue beyond-kab Mount Blue is seen in the distance and somewhere out there are loons.



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Osprey and other birds at Brunswick Landing

1. bwha 6-12-15-kab Broad-winged Hawk on power lines 6-12-15

Over the course of the summer I birded Brunswick Landing several times. It is a massive property and was formerly the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Now it is being developed as commercial property and there are not as many wild areas as there were before. Some sections have been shut off that we used to have access to when I first moved here and learned about this property. Still, it is a good place to bird with many surprises to be found, but it involves a bit of driving. I usually cover 3 to 5 miles with various stops along the way. In summer Upland Sandpipers can be found on the airfield. As you drive around you can spot vireos, warblers and woodpeckers. Both summers I have been here I have found Pileated Woodpeckers when driving through.

2. piwo 7-2-15-kab I found this one climbing a utility pole on July 2nd of this year!


3. pileated woodpecker-kab 

4. piwo-kab 

5. piwo-kab Finally up in the clear where I can see his gorgeous crest!

This massive woodpecker is the size of a crow and the one most closely related to the now (presumed) extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

6. coye-kab While I was looking up at the Pileated, this little male Common Yellowthroat was in the brush behind me.

Several pairs of Osprey nest on the Brunswick Landing Property. It is a short flight for them to the Androscoggin river in Brunswick or to Middle Bay to fish. There are also a couple of isolated ponds on the property that I have seen them fishing in as well.

7. osprey on nest 6-12-15-kab This photo was taken on June 12th. You can just see the tiny head of the osprey chicks peeking up above the edge of the nest. The photos below were all taken just a 3 weeks later on July 2nd. Look at the difference in size!

8. nestling 7-2-15-kab Two offspring look like they are gobbling up some yummy fish!


9. wing stretch-kab Look at the size of those wings now!


10. keeping an eye on me-kab The adult osprey is keeping an eye on me, but soon those youngsters will be flying and fending for themselves.

Please note that I was in my car and using a long lens to get these shots. At no point was I anywhere near these birds or their nest, which is actually atop a very tall pole in an abandoned baseball field that is fenced off with No Trespassing signs posted. However, you can easily see these birds from the roads and parking lots of Brunswick Landing. I would never disturb a bird to get a photo and these particular osprey are quite used to living in and around humans.

Brunswick Landing is a unique place to bird with many rarities showing up in the summer and the winter. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded here so far. Click on the links below to learn more.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Summer Birds of Wharton Point

1. song sparrow 7-9-15 Song Sparrow 7-9-15

In Summer you can always count on seeing Song Sparrows at Wharton Point in Brunswick, Maine. It is a well known eBird Hotspot with over 200 species of birds seen at this location. I first started birding Wharton Point when I moved here in the winter of 2014. Since then it is a place I regularly visit to watch birds and I usually take all my birding friends here as well.

2. high tide-kab At high tide the water comes up to the marsh grass and last year I saw and heard Nelson’s Sparrows here on a regular basis. This year, no matter how many times I visited or what time of day it was, I did not see or hear a single Nelson’s Sparrow. I do not know why there was a change. Nelson’s like to nest in this tidal marsh grass between the mudflats and the meadow beyond.

3. eiders-kab Common Eider’s are reliably seen here year round. In the summer you can see the hens with ducklings swimming into the coves and across the bay.

4. eiders-kab Here you can see the mothers with the smaller ducklings all in a row.

Do not underestimate the humble Common Eider. One day this summer when I was here I was watching a small flock of mothers with ducklings when a Bald Eagle flew overhead. Suddenly the eagle dropped low over the water and the mother ducks called out. Plop! all the babies disappeared beneath the surface of the water. The eagle made pass after pass over the water. Each time the ducklings disappeared beneath the surface. On its final pass as the ducklings disappeared I was shocked and amazed to see one of the female eiders raise herself up out of the water and lunge at the passing eagle! What a brave mother, I thought! After that the eagle gave up and flew off without a duckling dinner! I wrote about this back in July. You can read the original story here.

5. eiders-kab Eider’s have a very different flight profile from mallards.

Notice the short necks and the sloping bills.

6. glossy ibis-kab Though you can’t see much of this bird, this silhouette is unmistakable!

The long, de-curved bill, kinked neck, and medium length trailing legs tells you this is an ibis. And since this is the northeast it is most likely a Glossy Ibis!

7. common tern-kab In the summer, I love to see the Common Terns fishing in the bay.

They are all gone now and will not return until next summer.

Note the slender red bill tipped in black, the long pointed wings and tail and the black cap. All of this tells you it is not a gull, but a Common Tern instead.

8. ringbilled gull-kab Wharton Point does have its share of gulls, however and this little Ring-billed Gull is just one of the many species I have seen here.


9. eiders-kab More Common Eiders and ducklings cross the bay on July 9th.

The males have done their part and have nothing further to do with them!

So, I guess you could say that Common Eiders are all single moms!

9. snowy egret 7-9-15-kab Snowy Egrets are also reliably found at Wharton Point during the summer.

Great Egrets can be found here as well, but they are much taller and have long, yellow bills and black legs and feet. Snowy Egrets have yellow lores in front of their eyes, with a black bill and black legs with yellow feet. In the series of photos below you can clearly see the yellow feet as one egret flew in and chased the first egret off this point of land that stuck out into the bay. It was fun to observe the interaction and see how it all ended.

10. sneg-kab 

11. sneg-kan 

12. sneg-kab 

13. sneg-kab I’m King of the Bay, he seemed to say!

Click on the links below to see more blogposts or read the eBird info on this Hotspot. It is well worth your stop if you are ever in Brunswick, though timing can be everything when looking for birds. Be sure to check the nearby meadow for bobolinks in the summer and the marshland beyond the parking lot as well.


DSC_0507 Ibises on the mudflats of Wharton Point 7-15-15

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Few Birds in Norridgewock

DSC_0135 An Eastern Phoebe on its nest 6-7-15

Over the course of the summer we visited Norridgewock, Maine several times. My in-laws have a returning pair of phoebes that nest on their garage which I am always happy to see. They also put their feeders out over the summer, but take them in again in the fall before the snow flies because it is too hard for them to get to them through the snow. When we were there 2 weeks ago I was sad to see them down already. Since they live farther inland, they have yard birds that I usually only see passing through on migration. Here are just a few of the species I saw this summer with names and dates seen posted beneath each photo.

DSC_0137 Female Purple Finch in front. Rose-breasted Grosbeak behind.

DSC_0139 American Robin 6-7-15


DSC_0142 Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak 6-7-15

DSC_0144 Red Squirrel 6-12-15

DSC_0145 Eastern Chipmunk 6-12-15


DSC_0257 Male Purple Finch 6-20-15

DSC_0258 Indigo Bunting (front) Mourning Dove (behind) 6-20-15

Whenever I am in Norridgewock, I try to do some birding at Oosoola Park.

On July 10th, I saw the following birds there.

DSC_0473 Bald Eagle flying over the Kennebec River 7-10-15

DSC_0477 Eastern Kingbird on a wire 7-10-15

I often find Kingbirds here in summer.

DSC_0475 Frequently I find Kingfishers and ducks in this back cove.

On this day there was a family of ducks swimming in the shadows and hiding behind this fallen tree. But eventually they emerged and I had my first Wood ducks for this location!

DSC_0481 Wood Ducks at Oosoola Park 7-10-15

There were more ducks in the river as well.

DSC_0488 If you look closely at this picture you can just see a few mallards at the line where the water meets the trees!

DSC_0495 Closer to me at the boat ramp and dock more mallards and a couple of American Black Ducks swam up begging for food. A mom with kids obliged them! Yes, bread.


DSC_0496 Mallards and American Black Ducks looking for more food.


DSC_0498 Meanwhile the kingbird watches.


Note: I am gradually getting caught up with all my summer photos with new bird photos to come soon. By the time you read this, I will be returning from a trip to Colorado where I met up with my friend, Chris Rohrer! Won’t I have more stories to tell then! Currently my 2015 Year List is below 200 at 183 species. Perhaps I can get it above that number on this trip! I will let you know soon!