White Season Blog Break

Photo of Snowy Owl

Well, I've decided I could use a break from the regularly scheduled programming here at the blog. It's time for some much-needed white season rest which will afford me the space required to return with a fresh perspective.

If you're in need of inspiration while I'm away, browse the blog's complete index which includes 35 Life List Bird Games and 196(!) Nature Quizzes. To aid your winter exploring, borrow some of my recommended resources from your local library. Also, keep an eye on my upcoming events. If you have feedback or questions for me in the meantime, feel free to reach out.

Lastly, I'd like to express deep gratitude to you for following and supporting my work, and I invite you to look for my next blog post around the spring equinox.


2017: Maine Big Year Review

Photo of Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove | Biddeford, ME | 24 Dec 2017

I kicked off 2017 by observing 111 species in January including two life birds -- Pink-footed Goose and Great Gray Owl. With such a big month behind me, I decided to keep it up and continued to bird hard through the rest of winter and into spring. I methodically tracked down resident birds and logged a number of miles chasing  rarities.

In April, when I had the opportunity to see a Vermillion Flycatcher and a Fieldfare, both first state records, I began to think I'd be able to top my 2016 total of 305 species and perhaps even set a new state record (the current one held by Doug Hitchcox was 314). On April 28, I reached 200 species, with no intention of slowing down. 250 came on May 18; 275 on June 21; and 300 on August 29. With four months to go, I resolved to find at least 15 more species.

It took a little more than 2 months. On November 1, I found a Summer Tanager (#315) just a couple of miles from home. Two weeks later, I twitched a Yellow-throated Warbler (#316), and finally, on New Year's Eve, I twitched a timely Dovekie (#317).

What follows is the complete list of species I saw/heard in Maine in 2017. You can also view photo highlights on my Flickr page.

And, if you'd like to hear some of the stories from my supremely birdy year, check out my upcoming talk in Kennebunk.

* Life Bird
♦ Only at Stakeout (rarity found by someone else), location noted
◊ Originally at Stakeout, but later observed elsewhere
¤ Assisted by guide or birding companion, not at known Stakeout
† Only seen during off-shore boat trip (some with help of other birders/guides)
∴ Self-found rarity

Geese, Swans, and Ducks [37 species]
Snow Goose
Ross's Goose ♦ -- Russell Rd., Fort Fairfield
Greater White-fronted Goose ◊ -- Laudholm Farm, Wells
Pink-footed Goose*♦ -- Thomaston St., Rockland
Cackling Goose ♦ -- Collins Pond, Caribou
Canada Goose
Mute Swan ♦ -- Phillips Pond, York
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Eurasian Wigeon ♦ -- Pittsfield Water Treatment Plant
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback ♦ -- Etherington Pond, Biddeford
Redhead ♦ -- Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
King Eider
Common Eider
Harlequin Duck
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye ◊
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck

Partridges, Grouse, and Turkeys [4 species]
Ring-necked Pheasant
Ruffed Grouse
Spruce Grouse ¤ -- Birch Point Rd., Roque Bluffs
Wild Turkey

Loons and Grebes [6 species]
Red-throated Loon
Pacific Loon ♦ -- Fortunes Rocks Beach, Biddeford
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe

Shearwaters, Storm-Petrels and Tropicbirds [8 species]
Northern Fulmar †
Cory's Shearwater
Great Shearwater †
Sooty Shearwater †
Manx Shearwater †
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Leach's Storm-Petrel †
Red-billed Tropicbird ♦† -- Seal Island NWR

Frigatebirds, Gannets, Cormorants, and Pelicans [5 species]
Magnificient Frigatebird*♦ -- Prouts Neck, Scarborough
Northern Gannet
Great Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Brown Pelican*♦ -- Prouts Neck, Scarborough

Bitterns, Heron and Allies [13 species]
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Little Egret ♦ -- Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron ♦ -- Wharton Point, Brunswick
Cattle Egret ♦ -- Mud Creek Rd., Lamoine
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron ♦ -- Ice Pond, Monhegan
Glossy Ibis
White-faced Ibis ♦ -- Spurwink Marsh, Cape Elizabeth

Vultures and Hawks [12 species]
Black Vulture ♦ -- Main St., Newport
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Northern Goshawk ¤ -- Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk

Rails, Gallinules, Coots, and Cranes [6 species]
King Rail ♦ -- Eldridge Rd., Wells
Virginia Rail
Common Gallinule ¤ -- Corinna Bog
American Coot
Sandhill Crane

Shorebirds [35 species]
Black-necked Stilt*♦ -- Weskeag Marsh, South Thomaston
American Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
American Golden-Plover
Snowy Plover*♦ -- Reid State Park, Georgetown
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
Upland Sandpiper
Hudsonian Godwit ◊ -- Hills Beach Rd., Biddeford Pool
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Stilt Sandpiper ◊ -- Flood Brothers Dairy, Clinton
Purple Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper ♦ -- Wainwright Fields, South Portland
Pectoral Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher ◊ -- Flood Brothers Dairy, Clinton
Wilson's Snipe
American Woodcock
Wilson's Phalarope ♦ -- Flood Brothers Dairy, Clinton
Red-necked Phalarope
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs

Skuas and Jaegers [3 species]
South Polar Skua*†∴ -- aboard the F/V Nor'easter
Pomarine Jaeger †
Parasitic Jaeger †

Alcids [6 species]
Dovekie ♦ -- East Point Sanctuary, Biddeford Pool
Common Murre †
Thick-billed Murre ◊ -- Portland Fish Pier
Black Guillemot
Atlantic Puffin †

Gulls and Terns [18 species]
Black-legged Kittiwake
Bonaparte's Gull
Little Gull ¤† -- Clark Ledge, Eastport
Laughing Gull
Mew Gull ♦ -- Owls Head Harbor
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull ♦ -- Church Hill Rd., Augusta
Great Black-backed Gull
Least Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
Common Tern
Arctic Tern
Forster's Tern ∴ -- Sanford Lagoons

Pigeons, Doves, and Cuckoos [4 species]
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo

Owls, Nightjars, and Swifts [10 species]
Eastern Screech-Owl ♦ -- York
Great Horned Owl
Snowy Owl
Barred Owl
Great Gray Owl*♦ -- Stud Mill Rd. near Milford
Short-eared Owl ◊ -- Reid State Park, Georgetown
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Common Nighthawk
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Chimney Swift

Hummingbirds [1 species]
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Kingfishers [1 species]
Belted Kingfisher

Woodpeckers [8 species]
Red-headed Woodpecker ♦ -- Timber Point Trail, Biddeford
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker -- Saddleback Mountain
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker

Falcons [3 species]
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon

Flycatchers [11 species]
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher*♦ -- Todd Wildlife Sanctuary, Bremen
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher*♦ -- Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth

Shrikes and Vireos [7 species]
Northern Shrike
White-eyed Vireo ◊ -- Pond Cove, Cape Elizabeth
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Jays and Crows [5 species]
Gray Jay
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Common Raven

Larks [1 species]
Horned Lark

Swallows [6 species]
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow

Chickadees, Titmice [3 species]
Black-capped Chickadee
Boreal Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse

Nuthatches, and Creepers [3 species]
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper

Wrens [4 species]
House Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Carolina Wren

Gnatcatchers and Kinglets [3 species]
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Thrushes [8 species]
Eastern Bluebird
Bicknell's Thrush -- Saddleback Mountain
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Fieldfare*♦ -- Sheepscot Rd., Newcastle
American Robin

Mimics, Starlings, and Pipits [5 species]
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit

Waxwings [2 species]
Bohemian Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Longspurs and Snow Buntings [2 species]
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting

Wood-Warblers [30 species]
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler ◊ -- Pond Cove, Cape Elizabeth
Nashville Warbler
Connecticut Warbler*♦ -- N. Newcastle Rd., Newcastle
Mourning Warbler ◊ -- Flint Woods, Farmington
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler ◊ -- Timber Point Trail, Biddeford
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler ♦ -- Sanford Lagoons
Prairie Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson's Warbler

Sparrows [18 species]
Grasshopper Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
Saltmarsh Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow ♦ -- Maguire Rd., Kennebunk
Field Sparrow
Lark Sparrow ◊ -- Maple Ridge Rd., Winslow
Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee

Chat, Tanagers, Cardinals and Allies [10 species]
Yellow-breasted Chat ∴ -- East Point Sanctuary, Biddeford Pool
Summer Tanager ∴ -- Oak Ridge Rd., Biddeford
Scarlet Tanager
Western Tanager ♦ -- Pine Dr., Windham
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak ∴ -- Biddeford Pool beach
Indigo Bunting
Painted Bunting*♦ -- Iron Ore Point, Palermo
Dickcissel ◊ -- Surf Ln., Kennebunk

Blackbirds [9 species]
Eastern Meadowlark
Orchard Oriole
Bullock's Oriole ♦ -- Central St., Camden
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle

Finches [9 species]
Evening Grosbeak ♦ -- River Rd., Arundel
Pine Grosbeak
House Finch
Purple Finch
Common Redpoll ♦ -- Waterville Rd., Skowhegan
Red Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch

Old World Sparrows [1 species]
House Sparrow

Grand Total [317 species]

Notable misses include: American Three-toed Woodpecker, Western Kingbird, Prothonotary Warbler, Least Bittern, Long-tailed Jaeger, Seaside Sparrow, Long-eared Owl, Franklin's Gull, and Tundra Swan. And, as in 2016, while I did observe Red Phalaropes on a boat trip out of Maine, I was in Canadian waters when I saw them, so they didn't make my state list.

My record breaking 2017 Big Year was made possible by so many generous people, including birders, eBirders, and boat captains, and so many birds, including backyard residents, short and long-distance annual migrants, and more than a handful of shocking vagrants. Thank you all!

17.52 | Nature Notes (Dec 24-31)

Photo of Dovekie
Dovekie | Biddeford Pool, ME | 31 Dec 2017

Highlights of the Week

On Christmas Eve, I photographed a Red-shouldered Hawk (uncommon in winter) and a continuing rare Lark Sparrow at different spots in Biddeford.

At 2:01pm on New Year's Eve, I received word of a Dovekie visible from East Point Sanctuary in Biddeford. Jenny and I dressed for the frigid temps and arrived in time to see the bird right off the exposed point. A lifer for Jenny and only my second ever, this bird marked the 317th (and final) species for my 2017 Maine Big Year! (As a super bonus, I was able to get photos, which means only 4 Life Birds remain on my to-be-photographed list.)

Lastly, as the sun was setting on 2018, Jenny and I observed a flock of ~40 Snow Buntings at Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport. Among them was a single Lapland Longspur.

Wild Edible of the Week

Previously purchased, wild-harvested Atlantic Dulse was my final wild food of the year. I toasted a few batches in a stainless steel skillet and enjoyed these crisp sea-salty snacks as is and sprinkled on salads.

Nature Challenge of the Week (for you, the reader)

Show gratitude for/to the natural world!

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