Birding gift ideas

Snow BuntingIt’s that time of the year again. What can you get a [tag]birder[/tag] for [tag]Christmas[/tag]?

Try thinking in broader terms when searching for a gift for a birder. Everything from a feeder to binoculars and scopes will make a birder happy. Guide books, specific species books and ID guides will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

If your birding friend lives in [tag]Maine[/tag], how about The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. Another favorite is A Birder’s Guide To Maine.

Does someone you know have the dreaded squirrel problem? Get them a baffle or a squirrel-proof feeder. A lot of feeders have metal seed ports to keep squirrels from chewing holes in the feeder.

From birdsong identifiers to specialty seed, there’s a wide range of gift ideas for your birding friends and family members.

Let’s hear some of your [tag]gift[/tag] ideas. Simply reply by clicking the “Leave a passing comment »” link at the end of this article.

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

White Winged Scooter

Birding Granite Point again Sunday morning allowed us to see some great birds, but cloudy conditions were terrible for [tag]photography[/tag].

The first place we stopped was Curtis Cove, and the King Eider was there yet again. Fellow [tag]birder[/tag] Bob Malbon passed on to us about a birder who showed up at the cove in search of the King Eider, but had no luck finding it.

I think he may have been a little too early. I was told he arrived at 6:30 p.m. and left after half an hour. We have been seeing it around 7:30 a.m. until about 8:15 a.m. The King Eider then heads seaward and then north toward New Barn Cove and Hoyt Neck. (Maine Atlas Page 3/D3). I hope he reads this article and finally gets to see this beautiful [tag]bird[/tag].

Another wonderful sighting was 2 male and 2 female Redhead Ducks feeding in the Little River near the end of Granite Point Road. Further down the river, I saw a duck that I want to say was a Ruddy Duck, but I am not positive that is what it was. Maybe a return birding trip to the area will have this duck closer for ID.

Several Common Loons and Red-Breasted Mergansers populated Curtis Cove, and many Black Ducks and Green Winged Teal fed in the pannes of the area. A lone Lesser Yellow Legs is still hanging out in the panne directly in front of the parking area near the entrance to the refuge.

The highlight of the [tag]birding[/tag] excursion was the sighting of a first winter White Winged Scooter. It is also a life list first for my wife and I!

The following photograph was taken by fellow birder Bob Malbon and is copyrighted by him. Many thanks go out to him for allowing the use of his [tag]photograph[/tag]. The White Winged Scooter was some ways off, but I think Bob did a great job capturing this Scooter for identification purposes.




A first winter White Winged Scooter seen in Curtis Cove on Granite Point. Photo copyright and courtesy of Bob Malbon.



A Great Blue Heron was in flight near the pannes as we left the area around mid-morning. 

Happy birding!

Mockingbird Saturday

With such a mild November so far, I was not surprised at what [tag]birds[/tag] are still hanging around the area. Our [tag]birding[/tag] morning started at Granite Point with plenty of hold over birds to view.

The highlight of the day was a Merlin trying to grab a peep in Curtis Cove. Within a few yards of where my wife and I were standing, the Merlin tried to swipe a peep, but missed and plunged into the water. I was fiddling in the back seat of the car attaching a lens to my camera, when my wife called for me. Yes, I walked over to her without the camera to see what the commotion was about, thus missing the opportunity to photograph the Merlin. But I did look in time to see the failed swoop. Afterwords, the Merlin perched on a wire several hundred yards away to preen. Fellow birder Bob Malbon witnessed the Merlin on the perch and commented that he saw it a few days before.

If the Merlin was not enough, a single male King Eider was viewed in Curtis Cove. A life list first for both of us! To top it off, 3 Kingfishers were present, 2 fighting over territory!

Not much later after seeing the kamikaze Merlin, I watched a Northern Harrier flying low over the marsh in the [tag]Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge[/tag]. I lost sight of it for a few moments, and then heard Crows making a commotion. The Crows chased the Harrier into a pine tree approximately 200 yards away, and four of us watched it through binoculars. The Crows soon stopped the harassment and the Harrier was on his way.

Simply standing at the end of the road on Granite Point (Maine Atlas Map 3/D-3), is all thats needed to see a plethora of birds. Flocks of Canada Geese, numbering from 14 – 44 individual birds, soared overhead. Peeps probing the sands of Curtis Cove a few yards from where we stood. Red-Breasted Mergansers diving in the cove for a delicious morsel. Common Eiders snacking in the Little River. And sharing these sightings of birds with fellow [tag]birders[/tag] makes the experience even more special.

We left Granite Point and went to Etherington Pond near Biddeford Pool to see what was staging there. Not many ducks to see, but a very curios Northern Mockingbird was present. This [tag]bird[/tag] allowed me to get within five feet of it while exiting my car. He had no concern what-so-ever as I began taking photos of him, at times puffing out his chest to show me that he was king of the tree! When another Mockingbird showed up, the tree was vigorously defended. Pictures of this bird in several poses are below.

A list of birds we viewed after a wonderful morning of birding:

  • 1 King Eider*
  • 1 Merlin
  • 1 Northern Harrier
  • 3 Kingfishers (two were fighting over territory)
  • 3 Great Blue Herons
  • 145 Canada Geese (flocks of 14 to 44 geese)
  • 12 Common Mergansers
  • 18 Red-Breasted Mergansers
  • 21 Black Ducks
  • 8 Common Eiders
  • 3 Double-Crested Cormorants
  • 8 Mockingbirds

Photos below are of the friendly Mockingbird and a few shots from my backyard [tag]bird feeders[/tag]. Click a thumbnail for a larger view.

A Northern Mockingbird perched on a limb near Effington Pond in Biddeford Pool. A Northern Mockingbird perched on a limb near Effington Pond in Biddeford Pool. A Northern Mockingbird perched on a limb near Effington Pond in Biddeford Pool.
A Northern Mockingbird perched on a limb near Effington Pond in Biddeford Pool. A Northern Mockingbird perched on a limb near Effington Pond in Biddeford Pool. A Northern Mockingbird perched on a limb near Effington Pond in Biddeford Pool.
A surfer braves the waves at Fortune's Rock Beach. A House Finch feeds in our backyard in Biddeford, Maine. A camera shy House Finch on a bird feeder in our backyard in Biddeford, Maine.
House Sparrows feeding in our backyard in Biddeford, Maine. Give the squirrels their own feeder and they stay away from the bird feeders... yea, right!.


Happy birding!

Project Feeder Watch

Project Feeder Watch

My wife and I are participating in Project Feeder Watch which is is operated by the Cornell Lab of [tag]Ornithology[/tag] in partnership with the National Audubon Society, [tag]Bird[/tag] Studies [tag]Canada[/tag], and Canadian Nature Federation.

Anyone with an interest in [tag]birds[/tag] is welcomed! [tag]FeederWatch[/tag] is conducted by people of all skill levels and backgrounds, including children, families, individuals, classrooms, retired persons, youth groups, nature centers, and bird clubs.

A nominal fee of $15.00 is charged to participate.

I have a request for those living in Biddeford. A survey if you will. I would like to know if you provide feeders for birds, and if so, how many months of the year do you provide bird food.

Simply reply to this article by clicking the “Leave a passing comment” link at the end of this article. Comments are moderated, and it may be a few hours until I approve it. I appreciate your participation in this survey. I will post the results once I feel no more comments are coming in.

House Finch on our backyard feeder. 

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Parker River National Wildlife RefugeOur trip to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island, [tag]Massachusetts[/tag] this past Sunday featured cool temperatures, mostly clear skies, and plenty of [tag]birds[/tag] to view. Quite a few other [tag]birders[/tag] were also present.

Three species were added to our life list; the Swamp Sparrow, Eurasian Wigeon and the American Wigeon. This in itself was well worth the trip!

We traveled the entire length of the refuge, making stops at the Salt Pannes, North Pool Overlook, Hellcat Observation Area, Bill Forward Pool, Stage Island Pool Overlook, and the Sandy Point Reservation.

The following are a list of species we encountered.

  • American Wigeon*
  • Eurasian Wigeon*
  • Swamp Sparrow*
  • Canada Goose
  • American Black Duck
  • Mallard
  • Lesser Yellow Legs
  • Greater Yellow Legs
  • Short Billed Dowitcher
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Northern Harrier
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Great Blue Heron
  • American Bittern
  • Double-Crested Cormorant
  • Northern Pintail
  • Long Tailed Duck
  • Bufflehead
  • Common Merganser
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Red Breasted Merganser
  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Crow
  • Black Capped Chickadee
  • Song Sparrow
  • Field Sparrow
  • American Robin
  • Gray Catbird
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling
  • House Sparrow
  • House Finch
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Dark Eyed Junco
  • American Gold Finch

Whew! What a list! If only I could have photographed each and every one of these species. One problem was too much glare on the water from the sun. Such as the GBH and Great Egret photos. It was brutal.

Something funny always happens to us when we go birding. We were walking a trail at the Sandy Point Reservation and turned around to head back to the parking area after walking the back side of Stage Island. Not paying attention to what was in front of me and looking out toward the marsh, I nearly trampled an American Bittern! It was standing on the left edge of the trail, and took off across the marsh making its “oong-ka-choonk” call as it fled. It scared us to no end. A [tag]bird[/tag] that big, that close, with its far carrying booming call is enough to send shivers up your spine. I am glad no one else was there! I bet we looked like we just walked into a mine field.

A pair of Northern Harriers flew within 25 feet of us while we were in the blind at the Bill Forward Pool. Not much later, a Peregrine Falcon flew past. The pool held a variety of species, including Hoodies, which is one of my favorite ducks.

At the Hellcat Wildlife Observation Area, we were setting up our equipment just south of the observation tower. My wife tugged at my sleeve to get my attention, and pointed behind me. A Great Blue Heron was at the waters edge just a few feet away from us. A few minutes later, a trio of Great Egrets joined the GBH and began feeding. The glare on the water was terrible, but I did manage to salvage a few good shots.

We would like to return to the refuge sometime during the winter months, and if we do, you will see the report here at [tag]Birding[/tag] In [tag]Maine[/tag].

The photographs below are from our trip to the refuge. I have made changes in the resolution of the pictures. It seems that there are a few people out there who like to swipe my pictures without permission. These people have been ordered to remove my images from their site, and if they don’t, legal action will be taken. My Copyright Info is on this site and is very easy to understand.

Within the next few days, I will have video from the trip posted in the Birding In Maine Photo Gallery.

The resolution of the photos are lower than in the past. You may give thanks to the thieves for this. If you need a higher resolution photo, please feel free to contact me. Simply click a thumbnail for a larger view.

Happy birding!

A pair of cattails in the marsh at Sandy Point Reservation. A variety of ducks feed in the salt pannes at the PRNWR. Great Blue Heron seen at the Hellcat Observation Area at the PRNWR.
Great Blue Heron seen at the Hellcat Observation Area at the PRNWR. Great Blue Heron ruffling its feathers. A trio of Great Egrets feeding at the Hellcat Observation Area of the PRNWR.
A pair of Great Egrets take flight. A group of Mergansers in the Bill Forward Pool of the PRNWR. A Northern Mockingbird perched on a branch at the PRNWR.
A Northern Mockingbird perched on a branch at the PRNWR. Sharon watching birds at the Stage Island Overlook at the PRNWR. Short-Billed Dowitcher looking for food in the salt pannes of the PRNWR.
A view from the Stage Island Overlook within the PRNWR. A Swamp Sparrow amongst the grass in the marsh at the PRNWR A Swamp Sparrow amongst the grass in the marsh at the PRNWR
Feeding time in the salt pannes of the PRNWR. An American Wigeon and a Pintail Duck in the salt pannes of the PRNWR.

Plum Island report

My wife and I [tag]birded[/tag] the Parker Island National Wildlife Refuge on [tag]Plum Island[/tag], [tag]Massachusetts[/tag] today. Please stay tuned for a report and many pictures and videos in the next few days.

In the mean time, I leave you with a few teaser pictures from our trip. If anyone can identify the sparrow in the third picture, please email me or comment in this article. It will be greatly appreciated!

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

A pair of Great Egrets take flight at the Parker Island National Wildlife Refuge. A Short Billed Dowitcher cruising in a salt panne. Unknown Sparrow. Do you know this species? Please reply.