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

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Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.