Birding in and from Boothbay, Maine

 Boothbay, Maine. 7/18 to 7/21/22

Monday, July 18, 2022

Arriving in Boothbay around noontime on Monday after a six-hour drive from Queens, NY, Andy, Carmen and I were too early to check into our B&B but were able to leave the car in its lot. 


Taking a much-needed walk into town to take a look around, I also wanted to locate Cap’n Fish’s boat tours for our Puffin trip tomorrow. The excursion was my son, Andy’s 85th Birthday gift to me and I was thrilled. Carmen (daughter-in-law) was less than excited due to potential sea sickness.


We located Cap’n Fish’s boat trips at Pier 7. We would be out on the water for three hours from 9 until noon.


Meanwhile, we returned to our Harbor Towne B&B to sit out on the pier at an inlet from Boothbay Harbor. The photos below caught the only sighting I had there of a GREAT BLUE HERON and a SNOWY EGRET. 



    Venturing out again later in the day, we decided to get an early dinner at Harborside 1901 Bar & Grill located at the Footbridge of 1901. Thus began our seafood fest for the week.  


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Although breakfast was served at 8:30 a.m. (late for me), coffee and tea were always available. With coffee in hand, I returned to our second-floor deck shared with one other room. With wicker chairs and tables in front of each room, the layout was conducive to meeting our neighbors. On other days, I would sit in the front yard (garden) lush with grass, hedges and trees. There were at least four SONG SPARROW residents along with at least one AMERICAN GOLDFINCH making themselves at home in the lush grounds of the B&B. Hydrangea blossoms were huge.

Front view of our Harbor Towne B&B

                  SONG SPARROW - note how dark-colored it is compared to AZ species

Arriving at Pier 7 in a timely manner, we were able to get seats just a few rows behind the cabin on the starboard side. Lawn chairs were bolted to the floor. Carmen, with her Dramamine protocol in place, was quiet but determined to do this. 


With great weather and calm seas, I was excited about this opportunity to see Atlantic Puffins.  For the past forty years, Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program in the Atlantic Flyway has restored breeding Atlantic Puffins and other seabirds to islands off the coast of Maine. Books are available that describe the innovative use of decoys, mirrors, and recordings to attract birds to suitable nesting sites. And, now, I would get to observe the results of this hard, sustainable work  To see an ATLANTIC PUFFIN for the first time made it a LIFE BIRD sighting for me.

A small flock of Atlantic Puffins

Two LAUGHING GULL of the many flying about:


ROSEATE TERN

COMMON TERN

BLACK GUILLEMOT, below, was a second LIFE BIRD for me.



Black Guillemot diving through a wave
C0MMON EIDER was my third Life Bird

    My fourth Life Bird was a RAZORBILL that dipped into a valley between swells that I missed with my camera.
    ATLANTIC PUFFIN, although not easy to photograph, was more numerous giving me the opportunity to gather several decent shots.



    
So, it's fair to say, I got my Puffin fix!  And, Carmen, during the higher swells with water flying into the boat on the return trip sat like a mummy, her face stoic, her body unmoving. Yay!

    Though the boat trip was the highlight of the visit planned for me, there were also birds in the inlet behind our room at the B&B.
Distant HERRING GULLs above.
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLs

    So, that is it for photos of birds. But, I was always on the lookout, so my eBird lists frequently just list one or two species I happened upon along the way. On a tip from Andy and Carmen's friends from the NY Schools, Connie told me about an Osprey nest right before crossing the bridge into Southport. We spotted it with an adult and one young, fairly grown up, but did not stop for a photo.

    Since I do much of my birding at home at our local Arboretum, I thought the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden would prove to give me some warblers or other song birds. Maybe they were there, but nothing new that I spotted. This could be our time of visiting or it could be because I became so enthralled with the Giant Trolls throughout the beautiful gardens, that I simply wasn't tuned in.

    So, indulge me while I share the three of five GIANT TROLLS we saw.


















More local birding at one of our best sites. Maricopa County, AZ

 For local summer birding, I’ve vowed to stay home if the early morning temperature is 90°F or higher.  So, in the past several days, with somewhat cloudy skies, I was additionally motivated on 6/18, being my Mother’s birthdate, and 6/21 being the first day of summer. My Mom loved to walk. She did it on Rockville, Maryland’s city streets, but would have loved the Water Ranch’s wide dirt trails. The first day of summer is always worth celebrating but I must admit the seasons in the Sonoran Desert are quite skewed compared to most of the country with its four identifiable seasons. It is not our growing season; it is our shrinking season…unless we have a wet monsoon.  Some monsoons are all bluster that bring Haboobs with incredibly large waves of dust and dirt. In summer months, light rainfall often evaporates prior to hitting the ground. But a good monsoon is worth celebrating and we’re moving into that period of potential wetness.

Taking advantage of the cloudy sky, I set out early enough to begin birding around 5:30 at the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert’s Water Ranch. Consisting of well-planned 110 acres of streams, marshes, upland, and seven recharge basins of water managed by the City’s water treatment facility, it is a great place to visit. Walkers (with and without dogs), runners, and cyclists are among photographers and bird watchers who frequent the place.


With many waterfowl already having departed for their breeding grounds farther north, many of the ponds are allowed to dry up with just enough water to support the birds that stay for the summer, providing some open water and a lot of open mudflats. The shallow waters are helpful for some of the wading birds that breed right there. 


        Some of the white fluff on the ground is from cottonwood trees; some may be white downy feathers.


        BLACK-NECKED STILT have had good reproductive success. Photos below.


Adult Black-necked Stilt watching its three fledglings

These Black-necked Stilt above are Immatures, smaller and not yet with the pink legs of the adult, as shown in photo above this one.    

  Always surprising me, four AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN chose to swim and forage in Pond 7 on 6/18. 


        The WHITE-WINGED DOVE arrives just in time to pollinate the saguaro by eating its flowers at the top of the tall cactus.


              INCA DOVE often forage on the ground


    Juvenile GREAT BLUE HERON, still lacking the full orange bill and white face of the adult.
   SNOWY EGRET, agitated about another bird, perhaps being too close to its feeding grounds.

    On 6/21, I discovered Lindsay Story checking out the bridge at the fishing pond when I arrived. She saw the Least Bittern fly in. I have a hard time finding birds in the marsh reeds and missed it.  We continued birding together until I eventually left after almost two hours.


    Until next time, hope to see some of you other birders out and about in the early a.m.


    As always, my eBird reports can be seen by clicking the links below.


View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S113181460

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S113455862









Early Morning Birding at a popular local site, Maricopa County, AZ

 Wednesday, June 1, 2022

    Sensing that it had been many weeks since I'd checked out the birds at Gilbert Water Ranch, I headed there after breakfast. Arriving at 5:20, the parking lot was far from empty. It's light at this hour. With the temperature at 71°F for a June morning, it was definitely time to grab the opportunity.

    A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, from its perch in the bushes, was watching its juvenile in another bush. Top photo is adult; lower one, the juvie. Both have red eyes.


 

At several ponds, Mallard females with juveniles were a common sight; below.Below is a juvenile Mallard duckling losing its fuzzy down feathers in favor of more practical ones.In the foreground, below the observing GREEN HERON and SNOWY EGRET, swim juvenile Mallard ducklings.

Adult BLACK-NECKED STILT, followed in the second photo by its juvenile.


Juvenile CANADA GOOSE growing out of its fuzzy feathers, below.

Not all the waterfowl were accompanied by young. Pleasantly surprised to find a pair of CINNAMON TEAL on one of the ponds, I clicked off their photograph, too. Most waterfowl have already migrated North. Drake has the red eye; female, the dark eye.
Another lingering duck was one AMERICAN WIGEON, below:

Since a juvenile NEOTROPIC CORMORANT is browner than the darker adult's black appearance, I'll venture to say this may be a young bird, above. Or, the beautiful color may be a feature of sunlight and shadows. At any rate, I was quite taken with it.

There were many more birds, but photos are not always worthy of including here. If you care to see the eBird list, check out:

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S111875723


                                Hope to see some of you birders out in the field soon.

Local Birding is back on the Menu: Maricopa County, AZ

 Tuesday, May 24, 2022

    At least six weeks had elapsed since I last stepped foot on the dirt road beyond the parking lot at Coon Bluff Rec Area to check in with the birds.

    Lois L. and I were stopped in our tracks by an amazing greeting by a male VERMILLION FLYCATCHER. Its display or happy dance seemed to say, "Glad to see you!"

    More to the point possibly was this message: "Sorry for not showing up the last time you came by looking for me; I was guarding my nest. Guess what? I have babies!" ....followed by more wing flaps directly in front of us. Then it flew down to the ground. 

    Only then did I pull my camera. Thus, I do not qualify as a "photographer" who would have captured the wonderful display it provided us. 


   Vermillion Flycatcher - female

 Within the 2.5 hours we walked around the grounds (mesquite bosque, river trail, the out-east trail), we found no Vermillion Flycatcher babies, but did find a female VERMILION (above). 

    Insects were thick above the high-running waters of the Salt River. LESSER NIGHTHAWK were feasting on them.

    Challenging us on identification, we saw several juvenile birds. 

    The Juvenile VERDIN does not yet have its yellow head and face, but lifts its tail frequently as it hops around small branches. See below.

Adult VERDIN looks like this.

    The ABERT'S TOWHEE young did not yet have black feathers on its face at the base of its bill.

    Killdeer juvies had me going for a while wondering why a single breast band of a possible plover was playing on a gravely spit. (Look closely) Then, I saw its parent: a KILLDEER with the full two breast bands. - below:



    A first of season sighting was the BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER, always a joy to see.

    BRONZED COWBIRD happen to be more plentiful this year than in past years here at Coon Bluff. This stocky bird has a thick ruff on its neck that, during mating season, is frequently seen in various positions. Its red eye stands out.


    A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was also a first-of-season (FOS) sighting for me. More frequently heard than seen, I called Lois over to take a look. (Below)


    With such mild temperatures by the cold-running river, there were many "horse searchers" at Coon Bluff, too. They were rewarded with upwards of 15 horses milling around just beyond the picnic/camping area. Surviving in the wild, these horses can look really beat up sometimes. Today, they still looked healthy and well as they nibbled stubs of grass in the deep desert sand.





    Although I kept thinking about the very very green Costa Rica I had so recently left, the desert birding got me "home."  It was a great day!

    Until next time....and the times keep getting earlier and earlier....

View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S111166885