Fledgling Shorebirds

Hazy, hot and humid. This basically sums up the week here in southern [tag]Maine[/tag]. When I say hot, it was by Maine standards. Temps reached a high of 88 F. along coastal locations and climbed to the lower 90’s inland. Dew points were in the 70’s.

This morning,  dense fog greeted us as we headed to [tag]Goose Rocks Beach[/tag]. Visibility was less than 100 feet, and the putrid smell of low tide hung in the air. We did not give up however, the fog dissipated quickly as the sun rose above the horizon.

My wife and I, along with fellow birder Bob Malbon, did some [tag]bird watching[/tag] on the mud flats near the back side of the beach. Quite a few fledgling [tag]shorebirds[/tag] were learning the tricks of the trade from the adults birds.

We watched fledgling Piping Plovers feed with the adults, running short distances, then stopping, probing the sand with their stubby bills. At times, the plovers would patter a foot on the surface of the sand, causing any food just under the surface to come up for them to devour.

A single least Tern fledgling was also present on the flats. It was interesting to watch, what looked like to me, adults trying to wean the fledgling. A fish was brought to the young Tern, and when it opened its mouth to take the fish, the adult would pull it away. Most of the adult Least Terns in the area participated in this ritual. At times, the fledgling would take off and fly after the adults, squawking and squealing the whole time.

Saturday morning, my wife and I saw a lone Hudsonian Godwit, along with fledgling Willets and Lesser Yellowlegs. Several flights of Snowy and Great Egrets flew overhead. We watched a Glossy Ibis feed on the mud flats, and then take flight when another called from overhead. Probably the wife wondering where he was at.

We had a good weekend of bird watching. Enjoy the [tag]photos[/tag] we took and as always, comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated.

The very last photo below has us stumped. Can you identify this [tag]bird[/tag]?

Bonaparte Gull - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Bonaparte Gull - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Eastern Phoebe - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Fledgling and adult Least Terns - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Least Tern - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Least Tern - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Fledgling Least Tern - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Least Tern - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Least Tern - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Fledgling Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Fledgling Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Blah - Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Plover with one leg - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Dragonfly - 12 Spotted Skimmer - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Unknown - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

Shorebirds at Goose Rocks Beach

Fall migration is underway as the [tag]shorebird[/tag] numbers continue to rise at area beaches, marshes and mud flats.

[tag]Goose Rocks Beach[/tag] is no exception. My wife and I spent several hours at the beach Saturday morning, and Sunday morning, Bob Malbon and I sat on the rocks and filled several compact flash cards while photographing the shorebird activity.

Species recorded at GRB:

  • Piping Plovers
  • Least Terns
  • Common Terns
  • Roseate Tern
  • Great Egrets
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Semipalmated Plovers
  • Semipalmated Sandpipers
  • White Rumped Sandpipers
  • Eastern Willets
  • Spotted Sandpipers
  • Short-Billed Dowitchers
  • Long-Billed Dowitchers
  • Double-Crested Cormorants
  • Common Eiders
  • Stilt Sandpiper
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Barn Swallows
  • Cliff Swallows
  • Tree Swallows

Not every species listed was photographed. We did, however, gets [tag]photos[/tag] of most of them. Watching the behavior was very rewarding. Everything from adults feeding the young, to fights breaking out over a morsel of food, or territorial issues.

As the tide fell, the mud flats became the focus point. Hundreds of “peeps” were feeding, many were airborne, and others wading in the shallow waters. Terns hovered and then dove into the water, taking with them a small fish to satisfy their hunger. Snowy and Great Egrets could be heard squabbling just over the dune from where we sat.  An adult Short-Billed Dowitcher brought five of its young to the mud flats to feed. It was by far one of the best [tag]birding[/tag] days so far this summer!

 Enjoy the photos that I have included below, and as always, comments and criticisms are always welcomed.

Tree Swallows - Adult feeding fledgling - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Tree Swallows - Adult feeding fledgling - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Fledgling Tree Swallow - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Fledgling Tree Swallow - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Great Egret - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Greater Yellowlegs - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Semipalmated Sandpiper - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Least Tern in flight - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Lesser Yellowlegs - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Lesser Yellowlegs - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Sandpiper - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. White Rumped Sandpiper - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
White Rumped Sandpiper - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Sandpiper flight - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Sandpiper flight - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Semipalmated Sandpiper flight - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Rear View: Semipalmated Sandpiper - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Sandpipers - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Semipalmated Sandpipers - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Sandpiper pair - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Piping Plover flight - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Semipalmated Plover  - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Plover  - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Plover  - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Semipalmated Plover flight - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Snowy Egret flight  - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Spotted Sandpiper - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.

For those of you looking for the “[tag]Maine Birds[/tag]” series, it will now begin the week of July 23rd, 2007. I was too busy birding this weekend to begin as promised, but it will be here this week.

Happy birding!

Maine Birds

Maine’s exceptional variety and diversity of [tag]bird[/tag] species are the result of a joining of several specific habitats. [tag]Maine[/tag] is the natural boundary of the northern evergreen boreal forests, each of which offers an unusual variety of [tag]birds[/tag]. In addition to forestland habitats, Maine’s 33,000 square miles of landscape range from sea level to cloud-capped mountains, and each change in elevation and geography brings with it its own unique variety of birds, contributing greatly to the diversity of [tag]wildlife[/tag]. Add to this some 5,500 miles of rugged coast, 6,000 lakes and ponds and thousands of miles of rivers-all offering incredible opportunities to view animals on, in and around the water.

We receive hundreds of suggestions from our readers and the same suggestions keeps coming up time and time again. How about an occassional special feature on Birds of Maine?

Beginning this weekend, we will introduce the series “[tag]Maine Birds[/tag]”. We will spotlight a species of bird that can be found in Maine, describing habitat, breeding, nesting, feeding and migration. Native and non-native species will be covered. The frequency of these posts will be on a bi-weekly to monthly basis.

We welcome suggestions on any bird that you would like to see spotlighted. The only requirement is that the species must be present in Maine at some point during the year.

We hope you will enjoy “Maine Birds”. Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

Shorebirds

My wife and I explored [tag]Goose Rocks Beach[/tag] near [tag]Kennebunk[/tag], [tag]Maine[/tag] for [tag]shorebirds[/tag] Saturday morning, and we were not disappointed.

We observered Whimbrel, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-Billed Dowitchers, Long-Billed Dowitchers, Glossy Ibis, Piping Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, White-Rumped Sandpipers, Snowy Egrets, Willets and Least Terns. All these [tag]birds[/tag] were feeding during low tide in the Batson’s River and in the many tidal pools on the back side of the beach.

Photographing the many birds that were present had to be quick because of a cloud bank moving in that promised to block the sun. Twenty minutes later, the sun was behind the clouds and I didn’t get the chance to get a representative picture of each and every species listed. What I did manage to [tag]photograph[/tag] are in the [tag]images[/tag] below.

This morning, fellow birder Bob Malbon and I birded in the fog at Goose Rocks Beach and Granite Point. Clouds completely obscured the sun, but we managed to photograph an adult Snowy Egret with 3 juveniles feeding in the [tag]tidal pools[/tag] at GRB.

Over at Granite Point, we watched fledgling Barn Swallows and Tree Swallows flit about and being fed by adults. Nearly a constant flow of Egrets were seen flying along the Little River, and a lone Glossy Ibis made an appearance. I will work on these [tag]photos[/tag] later and post them on a rainy day.

Speaking of rainy days, many of you are probably unaware that I have a [tag]weather[/tag] site on the web at BiddefordWeather.com. This site is completely automated with live uploads of the current conditions in Biddeford every second of every day. This is possible with a Davis Vantage Pro wireless weather station which is located at my home. An on-board radar software program uploads the latest radar data either as a still image or looped, which is animated radar images for the last several hours. Tide info, satellite data, watches and warnings, a weather cam and the latest National Weather Service forecasts are also available. A lot of the information is very useful for [tag]birders[/tag] in the area.

Posted below are images I captured Saturday morning at GRB. Simply click a thumbnail for a larger view. Comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated.

Dowitcher - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Dowitcher - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Dowitcher and Piping Plover feeding - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine.
Dowitcher and Piping Plover feeding - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Dowitchers - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Dowitchers - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine.
Dowitchers - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Canada Geese Family - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Canada Geese Family - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine.
Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine.
Piping Plover in flight - GRB - Kennebunkport, Maine. Wood Lily - Kennebunk Plains - Kennebunk, Maine.

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

Fishing Egrets

Photographing Egrets fishing in a panne is a lesson in patience, along with a very fast shutter speed. Two weeks ago, my wife and I watched 16 Snowy and 3 Great Egrets forage for food in a panne out on Granite Point near [tag]Biddeford Pool[/tag], [tag]Maine[/tag]. The sun angle was perfect and the food was plenty for these [tag]birds[/tag].

Standing in the shadows with the sun behind me, these creatures never knew we were there. Wearing camouflage from head to toe and moving very slowly is the trick to getting close enough to get good photos of any [tag]bird[/tag]. And being quiet is a must! If you sound like a herd of elephants while moving to a vantage point, you may as well turn around. Leave the perfume, aftershave, deodorant, etc. at home. It was once thought that birds had little if any sense of smell. During the past 2 decades, sophisticated tests have identified more and more avian species that use a sense of smell.  One thing to never forget, never get close enough to stress the birds.

Saturday morning, Sharon and I met with fellow birder Bob Malbon at the Kennebunk Plains. We walked several paths and saw plenty of fledgling Sparrows and Prairie Warblers. We watched as a Rufous-Sided Towhee fed it’s young. It’s the time of year for fledglings to be out and about. If you are quiet, and find the right habitat with plenty of cover, it’s not that difficult to experience a mother feeding its young. The behaviour of the fledglings should clue you in that you are viewing a young bird. The juvenile will shake and ruffle its feathers, opening its beak towards where the adult is located. Sometimes, you will hear “cheep-cheep” coming from the young trying to get the attention of the adult. Those who have feeders should also be on the look out as the parents will bring their young to a feeder.

Two of the photos below feature what I belive is a juvenile Clay-Colored Sparrow. See the first and second images in the second row. Comment on this article if you think it is otherwise. As always, comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated.

Bumblebee on a flower - Kennebunk Plains - Kennebunk, Maine. Butterfly - Kennebunk Plains - Kennebunk, Maine. Lily - Kennebunk Plains - Kennebunk, Maine.
Clay-Colored Sparrow? - Kennebunk Plains - Kennebunk, Maine. Clay-Colored Sparrow? - Kennebunk Plains - Kennebunk, Maine. Mockingbird in flight - Eastern Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Willet in flight - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Willet approaching Lesser Yellowlegs - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Snowy and Great Egret - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Great Egret - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Snowy Egret fishing - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Snowy Egret fishing - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Snowy Egret fishing - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Snowy Egret in flight - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Snowy Egret touchdown - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.
Common Eider family - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Common Eider family - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine. Common Eider chicks - Granite Point - Biddeford Pool, Maine.

Happy birding!

Birding Vinalhaven

After a well deserved vacation at [tag]Vinalhaven[/tag], [tag]Maine[/tag], we are back with our regular weekly updates and pictures. For those of you who missed us the last two weeks, thanks for the emails asking if all was okay. I guess I should get into the habit of letting our readers know when we will be away and no posts will be forthcoming.

Vinalhaven is an island 15 miles off the coast of Rockland, Maine. A very friendly and beautiful place, it is also a haven for [tag]birds[/tag]. Eagles, Ospreys and other common birds were tallied during our stay on the island. When we boarded the ferry to return to the mainland on our final day, five Bald Eagles were seen, along with several Harbor Seals.

The weather was incredible, mostly sunny skies and temps a tad below normal for this time of year. We stayed at the only motel on the island, which is the Tide Water Motel in downtown Vinalhaven. The food we enjoyed at area restaurants was delicious!

We took plenty of [tag]photographs[/tag] of birds and the beautiful scenery which can be seen below. Simply click a thumbnail for a larger view.

Vinalhaven, Maine. Vinalhaven, Maine. Vinalhaven, Maine.
Vinalhaven, Maine. Owls Head Light - Rockland, Maine. Rockland Breakwater Light - Rockland, Maine.
Common Yellowthroat - Vinalhaven, Maine. Yellow Warbler with beak full of bugs - Vinalhaven, Maine. Harbor Seal - Vinalhaven, Maine.
American Woodcock - Vinalhaven, Maine. American Woodcock - Vinalhaven, Maine. Osprey in flight carrying stick - Vinalhaven, Maine.
Osprey in flight carrying stick - Vinalhaven, Maine. Osprey in flight carrying stick - Vinalhaven, Maine. Osprey on nest - Vinalhaven, Maine.
Osprey in flight carrying fish - Vinalhaven, Maine. Osprey in flight carrying fish - Vinalhaven, Maine. Osprey in flight carrying fish - Vinalhaven, Maine.

Today, we went to Evergreen and Capisic Parks in Portland. There were many young birds begging for their parents to feed them. We had great views of a young Baltimore Oriole being fed by a parent, and likewise saw a Yellow Warbler feed its young.

At Evergreen, a pair of Black-Crowned Night Herons were in the lower pond on a deadfall that lays in the water. Several flights were observed between the pair, mostly to perches in trees along the pond.

A walk to the Junk Pond produced several Flycatchers, Bluejays, Chickadees, Catbirds, Robins, Mockingbirds, Goldfinches and Thrushes. We could not view much of the pond because of overgrowth.

Enjoy the following [tag]pictures[/tag] and as always, comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated.

Baltimore Oriole - Capisic Park - Portland, Maine. Juvenile Baltimore Oriole - Capisic Park - Portland, Maine. Juvenile Baltimore Oriole - Capisic Park - Portland, Maine.
Juvenile Baltimore Oriole being fed by adult Oriole - Capisic Park - Portland, Maine. Juvenile Yellow Warbler - Capisic Park - Portland, Maine. Juvenile Yellow Warbler - Capisic Park - Portland, Maine.
Black-Crowned Night Heron - Evergreen Park - Portland, Maine. Black-Crowned Night Heron in flight - Evergreen Park - Portland, Maine. Black-Crowned Night Heron in flight - Evergreen Park - Portland, Maine.
Black-Crowned Night Heron in flight - Evergreen Park - Portland, Maine. Black-Crowned Night Heron in flight - Evergreen Park - Portland, Maine.

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

Happy Birthday America

U.S. flagWishing all of you a safe and happy 4th of July, on this day, the celebration of America’s 231st birthday!

Remember those who have fought for our freedom through the ages.

231 years ago…on July 4th, 1776
This great nation, the United States of America,
In a struggle for what was right and free,
Was proudly born…
May we celebrate that precious freedom
For which our forbears fought so bravely…
The freedom that is inherent
In the Stars and Stripes, our revered flag…
Celebrate Freedom
This Fourth of July!