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

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.