Maine, June 23-29, 2013

blackburnian warbler 2I spent last week in Maine, around Bangor and the central coast. The weather went from hot and muggy to cold and rainy, which might have to contributed to the overall poor birding compared to previous visits. I did see two lifers, one on the first day (Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow) and one on the last (Great Cormorant). It is always nice to see some eastern warblers, like this Blackburnian.

eastern phoebeEastern Phoebe, Mount Desert Island

great black-backed gullsGreat Black-backed Gulls, Schoodic Point

great black-backed gullGreat Black-backed Gulls in this area are rather shy, perhaps because biologists have been “discouraging” them from hunting on the offshore tern nesting colonies. The gulls do not allow a close approach and quickly take off if you point a camera at them.

herring gullThe Herring Gulls are happy to pose for mug shots.

great shearwaterGreat Shearwater, Gulf of Maine

great cormorant 1Great Cormorant, Schoodic Point, way out there, in the rain, but he still counts.

bullfrogAmerican Bullfrogs are an invasive species here in Oregon, so it was nice to see them in their natural range.

petit manan nwr MaineThis dragonfly species was common in wooded areas, where they blended in with the tree trunks.

petite manan nwr, METhis more colorful species was at the edge of a meadow.

spotted sandpiperSpotted Sandpiper, Petit Manan NWR

spotted and willet smallSpotted Sandpiper and Eastern Willet, Petit Manan NWR

willet 2aEastern Willet, looking a little sleepy
willet 3a

SE Arizona Lizards

I have always enjoyed studying herps, and my recent trip to SE Arizona provided a nice opportunity to enjoy some new species. I don’t have a reptile reference for that area, so I am using this post to practice letting go of my need to name things. I invite you to enjoy the pretty lizards. If you know their names, feel free to leave a comment.

fiveRamsey Canyon

oneRamsey Canyon

short horned lizardMadera Canyon


fourSaguaro National Park

striped lizardRamsey Canyon

Ash Canyon, AZ

The Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast is one of the must-visit sites in southeastern Arizona. It is hardly hard-core birding, as you are sitting around in Mary Jo Ballator’s back yard watching the feeders, but the diversity of birds is great. I shared some of the hummingbird species in an earlier post. Here are a few other species seen in the yard.

white-winged doveOne White-winged Dove is gorgeous and wonderful. Dozens and dozens of White-winged Doves are loud and obnoxious.

scott's oriole1Scott’s Orioles were attracted to oranges and grape jelly.


mexican jayMexican Jay

Lark SparrowLark Sparrow, with a Chipping Sparrow in the background

chipping sparrowChipping Sparrow

Gila WoodpeckerGila Woodpecker

acorn woodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker

curve-billed thrasher 2Curve-billed Thrasher

rock squirrelSeveral rodents were enjoying the bounty along with the birds. This is a Rock Squirrel.

arizona gray squirrelArizona Gray Squirrels have huge tails, which they use as parasols in the hot sun.

cotton ratThe cutest critter of the trip was this Cotton Rat.

red-faced warblerThis Red-faced Warbler was seen in nearby Miller Canyon. Of course, before I got my camera out, he was on a low perch singing his little heart out. Once the camera came out, he felt the need to fly to this high back-lit perch.

Madera Canyon, AZ

I spent a few days in Madera Canyon, the famous birding hotspot in southeastern Arizona. Days consisted of long hikes, interspersed with relaxing periods sitting on the patio watching the bird feeders.

moonriseMoonrise over the Santa Rita Mountains

cardinal 2Like other “Sky Island” sites in Arizona, the bird life in Madera Canyon changes with the elevation. The lower canyon was home to this Northern Cardinal, a bird of my youth in Indiana.

turkey trot1A couple of miles up the canyon, Wild Turkeys were common visitors to bird feeding stations.

turkey feeding

painted redstart below1Painted Redstarts are flashy and conspicuous.
painted redstart

acorn woodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker

rufous-crowned sparrowRufous-crowned Sparrow

Coues White-tailed DeerCoues White-tailed Deer were a common sight.

elegant trogonOne of the most sought-after birds in Madera Canyon is Elegant Trogon. They nest in the big sycamores along the creek in the upper canyon.

top of Madera CanyonThis is a view from the rim surrounding the canyon. It was a long climb to this point, to the land of Grace’s Warblers and Greater Pewees.

yellow-eyed junco3Yellow-eyed Junco was one of my favorite birds in the canyon, not as flashy as the warblers and trogons, but beautiful nonetheless. yellow-eyed junco1

Arizona Hummingbirds

One big draw of southeastern Arizona is the diversity of hummingbird species. The greatest diversity is usually found during the monsoon season of late summer, but even in mid-April I found eleven species. Here are some photos of the more cooperative ones.

broad-billed hummingbird 1Broad-billed Hummingbirds were the most frequently encountered species. This male was at Patagonia.

broad-tailed hummingbirdBroad-tailed Hummingbird, Madera Canyon

black-chinned hummingbirdBlack-chinned Hummingbirds actually have a lovely purple gorget, but the light has to hit them just right for it to show its colors.

magnificent hummingbirdMagnificent Hummingbirds look completely black most of the time. Like the Black-chinned, the light has to hit them just right to see their colors. This blurry shot was the only one from the trip that showed any color at all.

calliopeFrom one of the largest hummingbirds to one of the smallest; Calliope Hummingbird, Madera Canyon

lucifer hummingbird 2The long tail and long curved bill are distinguishing marks of this Lucifer Hummingbird.

lucifer hummingbird 3Here’s a better look at the gorget on the Lucifer Hummingbird.

violet-crownedViolet-crowned Hummingbird, seen at the world-famous Patton yard in Patagonia

Mexican Spotted Owl

spotted owlOn my recent trip to Arizona, I had the pleasure of watching this Mexican Spotted Owl preening and snoozing near his nest cavity. Spotted Owl has been a nemesis species for me since moving to Oregon twelve years ago. The subspecies that breeds in Oregon, Northern Spotted Owl, has been in steady decline for decades, as its old-growth forest habitat continues to be harvested for lumber, and its close relatives, Barred Owls, continue to expand their range, eating or interbreeding with the Spotteds as they go. As a result, the locations of Northern Spotted Owls in Oregon tend to be kept secret, to protect the birds from unemployed lumberjacks with shotguns or overzealous birders.

spotted owl closeupThe culture surrounding Spotted Owls in Arizona is very different. Email lists describe the exact location of roosting owls, making it easy for birders from around the country, and around the world, to have a look. The habitat of the Mexican Spotted Owl is not as commercially valuable as the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The money brought in to southeast Arizona by visiting birders probably far exceeds the value of any timber harvest in this area. So the Mexican Spotted Owl, while still rare, seems to be doing OK while being admired by adoring throngs of birders.

Great Wass Island, Maine

The Nature Conservancy has a preserve on Great Wass Island, just south of Jonesport on the Maine coast. The property has a nice variety of habitats, including spruce forest, cedar bog, and rocky coast.

Wild Blueberries grow in the open areas at the top of the hills.

The cedar bogs are home to carnivorous plants, like this pitcher plant.

Runoff from the bogs is the color of tea.

The shore offers some good tidepooling at low tide.

This is the “trail” along the shoreline. The occasional dab of blue paint lets you know you are not completely lost.

Lots of little islands lie just offshore.

Red Squirrels are common in the woods.

And that is the last of the photos from my Maine trip. Now back to Oregon.

Sunkhaze Meadow NWR, Maine

Sunkhaze Meadow NWR lies just northeast of Bangor, Maine. It is a huge open wetland surrounded by woods. During my recent trip to Maine, most of the sites I visited were along the coast. Sunkhaze is inland, so the birds were a little different, and the mosquitoes were much more abundant.

Beaver pond. The area had received a lot of rain recently, so the pond was very full.

Here’s a closer look at the Beaver lodge. The Beavers were out of sight, as expected during the day. A Star-nosed Mole was a nice find here, although he moved too fast for a photo.

Eastern Phoebe carrying food for her young.

Slugs were feeding on this colorful fungus.

Northern Leopard Frog

Red-eyed Vireo

Baby Turkeys! (Turklets? Turkitos?) I saw two females, each with a brood of about a dozen young. These were photographed through the windshield.

This is a neat site. Had the bugs not been so bad, I would have liked to have explored it more thoroughly.

The Ball Park, Gulf of Maine

The Ball Park is an area off the coast of Bar Harbor, Maine where cold-water upwellings bring nutrients close to the surface. This cold food-rich environment attracts whales and other marine mammals, which in turn attract lots of tourists on whale watching trips. But this is also one of the best spots along the east coast for pelagic birding. Pelagic trips off the coast of Oregon have spoiled me a little, as the numbers and diversity of birds are so much greater than in the east, but it was still nice to see a few species that I don’t get to see in the west.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrels are the most common seabirds on these trips.

Great Shearwaters often fly along the boat, or rest on the water is large groups.

A few Sooty Shearwaters flew by.

Of course, most people on the boat were looking for whales. A Minke Whale made a brief appearance to give me a life mammal, but this Humpback was much more cooperative. Researchers identify individual Humpbacks by the markings on their flukes. This is Gavel, who was first recorded in 2006.

We got to smell Gavel’s breath at one point, an awesome, if rather gross, experience.

After chasing Gavel around for a while, the boat headed for Petit Manan Lighthouse, part of Petit Manan NWR. This island serves as a nesting colony for gulls, terns, and alcids. Only researchers are allowed on the island, and the boat does not get close enough to see the nesting areas, but the waters surrounding the island held a lot of birds.

Here is a flock of Razorbills, with two Common Murres on the lower right.

Atlantic Puffins win the prize for cutest seabird on the trip.

Schoodic Point, Maine

Schoodic Point is the mainland section of Acadia National Park. It is not as well known as the main portions of the park on Mt. Desert Island, but the Schoodic section is free to get into and less crowded. The wooded section offers great hiking, and the point itself is a good place to seawatch.

This Snowshoe Hare was eating a mushroom. Love those big feet!

Black Guillemots are common in the waters off the point.

Common Eiders

A Common Eider drake showing the strange bill structure.

Common Eider hens

Two Great Black-backed Gulls hanging out with Herring Gulls. Laughing Gulls are present in small numbers, too, but they tend to keep farther away from the mainland.

These irises were blooming in many areas along the rocky shore. Anyone know the species?