Singing in the rain

Last weekends spectacular weather had a price. This weekend we are paying for it with clouds, fog, rain and cool temperatures. We did enjoy a total of one and a half hours of sunshine Saturday afternoon at Pine Point before the clouds and showers moved back in.

But through it all, the [tag]birds[/tag] kept singing, territorial fights ensued and nest building continued. We, as human beings, can reschedule around the weather and simply stay inside our homes when the weather threatens. Our feathered friends must go on, for those that wait for clearer skies may be left behind and may not survive.

Granite Point was a flurry of activity Saturday morning. Canada Geese were fighting and chasing each other over territorial issues, flocks of Double-Crested Cormorants were nearly continuous, and large rafts of Common Eider drifted in Curtis Cove. Fellow birder Bob Malbon and I watched a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet hop around a few bushes, never quite sitting still long enough for a good photograph.

Later Saturday afternoon, Sharon and I enjoyed the short-lived sunshine [tag]birding[/tag] in and around Pine Point. Hiding among the lobster traps stacked on the lower dock, we waited for waterfowl to come within range to get a few photographs. We were quickly rewarded with a lone female Old Squaw, who dove occassionally for food. At one point, as I lay on the dock near the waters edge, she popped up in front of me so close that I was unable to get the camera to focus! Eventually, she backed off and I got some shots which can be seen below.

Today, we rose from our slumber later than usual, but still went out into the rain and birded Granite Point. We hate to miss our Saturday and Sunday morning birding trips because of weather or other commitments. We make sure that no appointments are made on weekend mornings and [tag]bird[/tag] in any and all types of weather. We could miss that odd behaviour of a common bird, or miss a rarity only seen once in a lifetime!

Near the end of this mornings jaunt, we spied several Ruby-Crowned Kinglets and Yellow Rumped Warblers flitting around some small trees along a pond. We promised to return on a sunny day to get some more photos and to see if other Warblers are in the area.

Whether rain or shine, we always see something new and different. Please enjoy the [tag]photographs[/tag] we have posted below, birds that we have appreciated this weekend. Comments and criticisms are always appreciated.

Ole Blue Eyes -     Double-Crested Cormorant - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Female Old     Squaw (Long-Tailed Duck) - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Female Old     Squaw (Long-Tailed Duck) - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine.
Female Old     Squaw (Long-Tailed Duck) - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Female Old     Squaw Flight (Long-Tailed Duck) - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Lesser     Yellowlegs - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine.
Great Egret - Pine     Point, Scarborough, Maine. Old Squaw Pair     (Long-Tailed Duck) - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Yellow     Rumped Warbler (Myrtle Form) - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Yellow     Rumped Warbler (Myrtle Form) - Biddeford Pool, Maine.

Happy birding!

Birding Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maine

During the last two weeks, my wife and I have been very busy with visits to [tag]Pennsylvania[/tag] and [tag]Massachusetts[/tag]. Of course, we found time to do some [tag]birding[/tag] in these locals and we were not disappointed with the [tag]bird[/tag] activity despite the horrendous weather.

Last weekend, we visited Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA. and saw tens of thousands of Red-Breasted Mergansers, Lesser and Greater Scaup, Buffleheads, Coots, Canada Geese and Grebes. We enjoyed a total of 3 hours of sunshine last Saturday morning, which allowed me to photograph most of the above species. After that, snow, rain and wind greeted anyone brave enough to venture into the park.

Our return trip from the Keystone State was a journey through every type of weather imaginable! On the [tag]New York[/tag] Thruway, between Buffalo and Albany, a raging snowstorm kept traffic to a crawl with numerous accidents. Once entering Massachusetts on the MassPike, heavy rain and high winds wracked us and persisted the rest of the way home. Maine was a disaster area, with homes washed into the sea, downed trees and powerlines which led to power outages affecting 300,000 homes and businesses and major flooding. It was a mess! I saw a dead seagull entangled in powerlines on Pool Street here in Biddeford, and another dead gull laying in a yard. I recorded a 68 m.p.h. wind gust here at home, which in turn, knocked over my instrument tower. No damage was done.

This past weekend, we birded the Biddeford Pool area on Saturday and then made a trip to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island in Massachusetts on Sunday. Activity was light all around this weekend, but the weather was beautiful.

Below are [tag]photographs[/tag] I took over the last 2 weeks. Simply click a thumbnail for a larger view. Comments and criticisms are always welcomed.

Presque Isle State Park – Erie Pennsylvania

Flight of the Bufflehead - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Bufflehead Pair - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Canada Goose Profile - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania.
Female Red-Breasted Merganser - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Horned Grebe (Breeding Plummage) - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Horned Grebe (Breeding Plummage) - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania.
Horned Grebe (Breeding Plummage) - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Horned Grebe Flight (Breeding Plummage) - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Horned Grebe Molting (Breeding Plummage) - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania.
Lesser Scaup Pair - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Lesser and Greater Scaup - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania. Lesser Scaup - Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania.

 

Biddeford Pool, Maine

Which end is up? - Black Duck Pair - Granite Point, Biddeford Pool, Maine. Whitetail Deer - Biddeford Pool, Maine. House Finch - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Male Common Loon - Camp Ellis, Maine. Male Common Loon - Camp Ellis, Maine. Northern Mockingbird - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Mourning Dove - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Snowy Egret - Granite Point, Biddeford Pool, Maine. Singing Song Sparrow - Biddeford Pool, Maine.

 

PRNWR – Plum Island, Massachusetts

Female American Goldfinch - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts. Female American Goldfinch - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts. Grackle - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts.
Greater Yellow Legs Pair - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts. Brown-Headed Cowbird - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts. Brown-Headed Cowbird Displaying - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts.
Male American Goldfinch - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts. Male Red-Winged Blackbird Displaying - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts. Mute Swan - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts.
Snowy Egret - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts. Snowy Egret Pair - PRNWR, Plum Island, Massachusetts.

 

Happy birding!

Winters last stand

Although the calendar says April, it feels and looks more like December here along coastal [tag]Maine[/tag]. A major snowstorm Thursday dumped 14″ of very heavy, wet snow on the area, causing downed trees and powerlines region-wide. Temperatures remain well below normal, with a threat of more snow later this week.

Out on Granite Point, my wife and I watched Robins, Grackles, Starlings and Killdeer root through the debris at the high tide line looking for morsels of food. The snowcover has made it hard for migrating [tag]birds[/tag] to find food, and I have received reports of Bluebird deaths north of here because of the unusual weather.

Things were fairly quiet locally this weekend. I did get some pictures of a cooperative Red-Breasted Merganser at Pine Point, and watched six Great Blue Herons feed in a small marsh near Ocean Park.

My wife and I are heading to [tag]Pennsylvania[/tag] Friday and will return Monday evening. No posts will be added this weekend, but be sure to check back the following weekend for a report on [tag]birding[/tag] in the keystone state.

Enjoy the pictures I have taken this weekend. Simply click a thumbnail for a larger view. Comments and criticisms are welcomed!

Male Common Eider - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Male Common Eider - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Female Common Eider - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine.
Great Blue Heron - Ocean Park, Maine. Great Egret - Ocean Park, Maine. Great Egret Flight - Ocean Park, Maine.
Red-Breasted Merganser - Pine Point, Maine. Red-Breasted Merganser - Pine Point, Biddeford Pool, Scarborough, Maine. Red-Breasted Merganser - Pine Point, Maine.

Happy birding!

Birding the Scarborough Marsh

Gorgeous back to back sunny days on a weekend is a privilege not too often experienced in early spring here in [tag]Maine[/tag], and when it does happen, you best take advantage of it.

Saturday, we traveled our regular birding loop.  We saw plenty of Ring-Necked Ducks, Green-Winged Teals, Common Eider, Hooded Mergansers, Red Breasted Mergansers, an adult Bald Eagle flying over Etherington Pond, and many songbirds. Their many beautiful songs were a welcomed reprieve from the quiet, cold Maine winter. 

Today, we rose before the sun, headed to the Scarborough Marsh, walked the Eastern Trail at sunrise and [tag]birded[/tag] for over two and a half hours. Highlights include:

  • Tree Swallows (including one who was checking out a nest box)
  • Song Sparrows
  • Tree Sparrows
  • Hooded Mergansers
  • Red Breasted Mergansers
  • Willets
  • Canada Geese
  • Snow Geese (a fly-over of 6)
  • Common Golden eye
  • Bufflehead’s
  • *Golden Crowned Kinglet (life bird for both of us!)
  • Chickadees
  • Goldfinches
  • Black Ducks
  • Mallards
  • Mourning Doves
  • Green-Winged Teal
  • Common Loons

All in all, not a bad morning!

Afterwards, we drove to Pine Point. I had the good fortune to [tag]photograph[/tag] Old Squaws (Long-Tailed Ducks) yet again! It amazes me seeing the behavior of these beautiful ducks. I could watch these creatures all day long.

As done last weekend, I laid down on the dock between some lobster traps and waited for the Old Squaw to come to me. At one point, a male was no more than 2 feet in front of me which led to focusing issues with my camera. I waited until he backed away and then fired away. The photos may be seen below.

To make myself perfectly clear, I did not approach these ducks. They approached me!

To end on a disturbing note, Biddeford has seen fit to post NO PARKING signs all along Granite Point Road. The only parking area to view the Granite Point piece of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge is a very small grassy parking area near the beginning of the refuge. One would be lucky to place three cars side by side in this parking spot. And if it is muddy, forget it.

From what I’ve heard from a Granite Point resident, last summer drivers parked on both sides of the road at the private beach at New Barn Cove. They did not pull off the road far enough, blocking the way so that a fire truck responding to an emergency call, had not been able to get through.

Because of this incident, the Biddeford Council decided to post no parking signs on BOTH sides of the road, for the entire length of Granite Point Road. To me, it would make more sense to post one side of the road, so people can enjoy the beauty of, and the wildlife in, the refuge. Now, with this nonsense, the only way to view the refuge is by doing a drive by, or hoping out-of-staters enjoying their stay on Granite Point don’t fill the 3 measly spaces the refuge provides for parking as their personal parking place. A really fun way to enjoy our free space! Thank you Biddeford, another wise decision.

I thought that the refuge was for everyone to enjoy, not just a select few.  If you have been following my postings, you would know that at least 75% of my pictures were taken at this wildlife refuge. Now if I want stop to take a picture or two, I may be arrested and/or fined. That also is true for the few people who like to park at the end of the road and read a book, or just enjoy the view and sound of the sea. Walking the road, which is 3 miles from beginning to end, is not an option for many who are unable to walk this distance. Yet another Maine coastal area where public access is being denied.

Now that my venting is over, I am going to contact the main office of the refuge and see what can be done about getting a small parking area at the end of Granite Point Road, on refuge property.

If you enjoy going to Granite Point, and would like to see more parking, please join me in emailing the refuge office and see what can be done. The email address is rachelcarson@fws.gov.

Below are [tag]photos[/tag] of [tag]birds[/tag] taken at various places while [tag]birding[/tag] over the weekend. Click a thumbnail for a larger view. Comments and criticisms are welcomed.

Male Black Duck - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine. Black Duck Pair - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine. The DownEaster - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine.
Female Common Eider - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Female Hoodie (Hooded Merganser) - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine. Golden-Crowned Kinglet - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine.
Grackle - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Green_Winged Teal - Granite Point, Biddeford Pool, Scarborough, Maine. Male Old Squaw (Long-Tailed Duck) - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine.
Male Old Squaw (Long-Tailed Duck) - Pine Point, Scarborough, Maine. Song Sparrow Singing - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine. Watching the sun rise - Song Sparrow - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine.
Tree Swallow - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine. Tree Swallow - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine. Tree Swallow - Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Maine.

Happy birding!