By late July, shorebird migration in New England is in full swing. While some species like Semipalmated Sandpipers drop in to many beaches and mudflats by the hundreds, other species, like Whimbrel, are uncommon outside of their favored coastal stop-over sites (one such spot in Maine where 100+ Whimbrels have been seen during low tide in late July and early August is Flat Bay in Harrington). Here in southern Maine, single-digit counts are typical, and this scarcity contributes to their popularity among birders.
Their large size, compared to most common shorebirds, and their long, decurved bill make them reasonably easy to spot with a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. Looking for them on exposed mud flats at low tide tends to be more productive than trying to spot them among marsh grasses at high tide. Rarely, one has landed near me on a sandy beach, and on several occasions the loud flight calls of a Whimbrel have alerted me in time to look up and see the bird's distinctive silhouette speeding past.
To learn more about Whimbrels and to hear a sample of their loud calls, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.
Though more closely related to White Admirals and Red-spotted Purples, Viceroys (Limenitis archippus) are most often confused with similarly colored Monarchs. To separate the two, note the black median stripe across the rear wings of the Viceroy, a field mark not present on Monarchs, or from a distance, watch how they fly. Viceroys tend to glide with wings held flat, unlike Monarchs who usually glide with their wings in a V shape.
Larval plants for Viceroy caterpillars include various Willows (Salix spp.) and Poplars (Populus spp., including Big-toothed and Quaking Poplar). Adults are widespread in New England during the green season.
To view the following images in full-size, click here.
nectaring on Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)