Birding the storm

The storm that came through the area this past weekend was a doozy! Winds were reported gusting at 70 mph at Cape Elizabeth. Nearly 3″ of rain fell here at home and waves were on the order of 20 feet along the coast.

[tag]Birding[/tag] in this kind of [tag]weather[/tag] is difficult at best. Try opening your window when parked near the beach and a gale is blowing with horizontal rain. Add to that waves breaking over seawalls, hurling rocks and debris onto the road.

Although not many birds were seen Saturday, we did happen upon a huge flock of Cormorants, numbering approx. 150, trying to fly in the fierce winds and driving rains.

The Cormorants came across Eastern Point and tried to head toward Fortune Rocks Beach. These birds are not the most graceful fliers, and in a driving storm, they are worse yet. Tumbling in mid-air was common with this bunch, at times seemingly stalling during a particularly strong gust. Some landed in the rough surf, only to be buried time and again with huge waves.

During storms like this, few [tag]birds[/tag] are flying, save for a few seagulls who think they are hang gliders. Crows were being pummeled, and to me, what looked like Divine feather removal at work from the strong winds.

I witnessed today, for example, a dead seagull wedged into some rocks, either blown into the predicament, or washed there by heavy seas. I also saw a dead Cormorant driven into a foot hold on a telephone pole. This situation was too high off the ground for some prankster to have accomplished.

On Sunday, the sun made an appearance, but the winds and seas were still high. We [tag]birded[/tag] Granite Point early in the morning, thanks to the clocks being turned back and the sun rising once again before 6:15 a.m.

Birds we witnessed at Granite Point were:

  • Green Winged Teals
  • Red-Breasted Mergansers
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Lesser Yellow Legs
  • Canada Geese
  • Kingfisher
  • Merlin

We saw our first Common Goldeneye of the season near Eastern Point in Biddeford Pool on Sunday.

The following pictures were taken both during the storm and the day after. Not many [tag]bird[/tag] photo oppurtunities presented themselves while trying to shoot from the car on Saturday, and Sunday, the species listed were just too far away.

Simply click a thumbnail below for a larger image. Happy birding!

Part of the flock of 150 Cormorants during the storm. Waves pound the rocks at Eastern Point near Biddeford Pool Waves pound the rocks at Eastern Point near Biddeford Pool
Waves pound the rocks at Eastern Point near Biddeford Pool A flipped sailboat sits in Biddeford Pool The day after the storm, wind and waves are still high, but the sun is out!
Gulls fly over the waves at Eastern Point the day after the storm A look toward Fortune Rocks Beach near Biddeford Pool, Maine the day after the storm

 

 

Birding discussion forums

question_mark.jpgFrom the lack of responses to an article I wrote about a [tag]birding forum[/tag] on this site, I may be forced to take down the forum. I do want to thank those who have responded, as it is greatly appreciated.

I will give it two more weeks for your input. If you could take just a few seconds of your time and place your vote under the question “How likely are you to use this birding forum?”. No signing in is required! It’s free!

Myself, along with some others, believe this could be a wonderful resource for [tag]birders[/tag] in [tag]Maine[/tag] and the northeast US as a whole. Time is at a premium for a lot of us these days, so I understand that you may not have time to participate in a Birding Forum every day. We don’t ask that you post everyday, just to provide some input occassionally as to your sightings, tips, stories and anything else to do with [tag]birding[/tag].

You can also comment about such a forum by either posting in the forum or clicking “Leave a passing comment »” at the end of this article. Remember, you don’t need to register at this time. You may post all you want in the forums without an email address, username or password.

Happy birding!

Squirrels and Blue Jays

Squirrel hanging from a feeder

 

My feeders were quite busy today, but not with a lot of birds. Squirrels!

Two of them have been trying to raid the feeders for the past few weeks. This fella decided to help himself to the [tag]woodpecker[/tag] feeder.

I watched as the [tag]squirrel[/tag] would scurry to the ground and hide a seed under a leaf, tamp down the leaf with his little paws, and head back for more.

A few [tag]chipmunks[/tag] have been keeping the seed cleaned up under the feeders, and it has been a chore shooing away pigeons.

These pictures were taken from the stairway window, which leads to the second floor of our home.

Blue Jays have been stuffing their bills with peanuts and sunflower seed. I have noticed at least 10 different Jays in our backyard at one time. They are very aggressive toward other birds, but the cardinals will have none of it. I saw a female Cardinal chase away 2 Blue Jays from the platform feeder. The male Cardinal sat nearby on a branch during all this, and then joined her when the Jays were gone.

Winter is near. [tag]Birds[/tag] are fattening themselves up for the shorter days, the bitter cold, the howling wind and the blanket of snow that covers the land.

Please don’t forget our feathered friends this [tag]winter[/tag]!

Squirrel hanging from a feeder

 

Bluejay on a feeder

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

Support Protections for Shorebird and Wading Bird Habitat

This was sent to me through the Maine-Birds Email List.

This is a very important issue concerning our [tag]shorebirds[/tag] and [tag]wading birds[/tag] here in [tag]Maine[/tag]. There has been articles in the Portland newspaper and on local TV stations. It seems that real estate developers are trying to put a stop to this.

Please show your support by contacting one of the legislators at the end of this article.

[tag]Birding[/tag] In Maine fully supports these rules.

 

Please Support Protections for Shorebird and Wading Bird Habitat
Maine Audubon Action Alert: http://www.maineaudubon.org/act/061017_swh.shtml

Maine rules protecting important coastal habitats for shorebirds and wading
birds have been in the making for decades but are just coming into effect.
The rules are reasonable and protect the last remaining feeding and resting
areas for migratory shorebirds as they travel from the Arctic circle to as
far away as Chile where they spend the winter. Some of these places, like
around Harrington and Addison, are nationally significant to shorebirds. But
the rules protecting these fragile habitats are not well understood and some
Maine residents are objecting to them.

You can help protect shorebird and
wading bird habitat: click here for more info
http://www.maineaudubon.org/act/061017_swh.shtml .
ACTION ALERT: http://www.maineaudubon.org/act/061017_swh.shtml Please Support Protections for Shorebird and Wading Bird Habitat

Maine rules protecting important coastal habitats for shorebirds and wading
birds have been in the making for decades but are just coming into effect
but are not well understood.  In fact, some Maine residents are objecting to
them.

Because these fragile habitats (including mud flats and wetlands where birds
nest and feed) are vulnerable to disturbance, development, and environmental
contaminants, the rules require a permit to develop in or near those areas.

The permit will ask that the development occur 250′ away from the habitat
when possible. When this isn’t possible, the landowner will be asked to
minimize impacts.  If the lot is already developed, an expedited permit will
be available with limited standards.
The rules are reasonable and protect the last remaining feeding and resting areas for migratory shorebirds as they travel from the Arctic circle to as far away as Chile where they spend the winter.

Some of these places, like around Harrington and Addison, are nationally significant to shorebirds. In fact, in the 1980s, the coastal zone from Trenton Bay east to Perry was
identified as probably the most important fall migratory stopover area in the eastern U.S. for four species of shorebirds (semipalmated sandpipiers, semipalmated plovers, white-rumped sandpipers and whimbrels).

Shorebirds are declining, and once these places are gone, there will be no where else for the birds to go—we risk losing them altogether. Shorebirds and wading birds desperately need this habitat, but we need it,
too—not only to maintain our quality of life, but also to keep drawing the
visitors who bring millions of dollars to Maine each year. It is extremely
important that Governor John Baldacci and your legislators know that there
is strong public support for protecting these special habitats.
YOU CAN HELP!
1. Please thank Governor John Baldacci for his strong support of the rules.
Governor John Baldacci:  governor@maine.gov  / (207) 287-3531  / (207)
287-6548 (TTY) / (207) 287-1034 (FAX)

2. Please tell your legislators that the rule is important, supported by
science, and reasonable.
For legislators’ e-mail addresses and home contact info, please visit
www.maine.gov  or e-mail activist@maineaudubon.org with your name and
address.  Or go to
http://www.maineaudubon.org/act/061017_swh.shtml  for
links.
THANK YOU.
More Information: go to
http://www.maineaudubon.org/act/061017_swh.shtml
for links and background information.

 

 

 

Birding Discussion Forum up for testing

As noted in yesterdays post, I was toying with the idea of setting up a [tag]birding discussion forum[/tag]. I am depending on visitors to this site to provide feedback as to whether you would use the forums.

I have set up a test forum that you may visit here. Feel free to test it. At this time no registration is necessary. I will clear the posts every few hours to prevent spam and inappropriate images. More categories will be added when I get a feel of how many may use the forum. Included is a poll asking “How likely are you to use this birding forum?” All it takes is a click to let me know if this is worth pursuing.

Thanks for you comments and votes. Happy birding!

Your feedback requested

With over 2200 hits a month, this site has become more popular than I have ever imagined. I would like to thank all of you who visit this site.

What I would like feedback on is the possible addition of a discussion forum to this site. I have been toying with the idea, but would like feedback from visitors to ascertain if anyone would use a free, no registration necessary forum for the discussion of birding in and around Maine.

Some of the categories I have been thinking about:

  • Latest Sightings (similar to a mail-list but web based)
  • Hot Birding Spots
  • Birding Questions and Answers
  • [tag]Bird[/tag] and [tag]Wildlife[/tag] [tag]Photography[/tag]
  • Birding Equipment

And any others that may be suggested by our visitors. I would also need help moderating such a forum.

Please let us know if this would be something that you would likely use and if you would like to help with moderating. We are open to all suggestions. Simply click the “Leave a passing comment” link at the end of this article.

Once we find out what our visitors think about this, we may implement a [tag]birding discussion forum[/tag] in the near future. We leave this decision up to you.

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

Western Reef Heron Economics Report

A report by Jeannette and Derek Lovitch has been released on the economic impact of the [tag]Western Reef Heron[/tag] on the town of Kittery, [tag]Maine[/tag]. Here is an excerpt from the report:

 

The economic impact of birdwatching has been notoriously difficult to determine. Unlike other outdoor pursuits, like fishing and hunting, there is no tax levied on birdingrelated purchases so there is no concrete method by which to measure economic input. However, it is estimated that birdwatching is a $32billion industry nationwide. It is second only to gardening in numbers of participants (46 million), and growing rapidly. Of those 46 million birders, 18 million (40%) take trips away from home (LaRouche, 2003; U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 2001). Local businesses, from hotels, restaurants, and gas stations to car rental agencies and boat operators benefit directly from the birding visitors to Maine coming to view rarities or our charismatic breeders, such as the Atlantic Puffin. A number of individuals and organizations offer tours and/or private guiding services. Birders also pay entry fees at parks.

Source:

  • The Economic Impact of the Western Reef- Heron (Egretta gularis) on the Town of Kittery, Maine in August of 2006., Jeannette and Derek Lovitch 2006

For the full report go to Western Reef Heron Economics Report. It is in the pdf format.

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!