Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Boreal Nesting Birds Highlight Maine Birding Trip
July 16, 2016
By Steve Grinley

     During these dog days of summer, when the birding is relatively quiet, many local birders travel to other places to see birds. If you are lucky enough to have a place in Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine, you can go there to beat the heat, and also view many nesting birds that we only see in migration here in Massachusetts. The Brookline Bird Club, auguably Massachusetts’ most active, sponsors several trips to northern new England during the summer.

     In addition to trips Downeast Maine, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and Rangeley Lakes in Maine this season, five BBCers spent four days in Maine staying at the Claybrook Mountain Lodge in Highland Plantation, Maine. Here is the trip report posted by Glenn d’Entremont of Stoughton:

     “We met in Amesbury to leave a vehicle and then proceeded to Kennebunk Plains where we had at least 4 Upland Sandpipers, Prairie Warbler, 5 Field, 1 Grasshopper, 9 Vesper (never out of earshot) Sparrows, and 7 Eastern Meadowlarks. Then onto Messalonskee Lake (Belgrade) for 6-8 Black Terns, Pied-billed Grebe and a Common Loon family. Also at Belgrade were 12 Purple Martins. 

     “After meeting our last participant at the lodge we went to Gilman Pond Road in New Portland where there were 26 turkeys (23 young), two Bald Eagles, one “ugly” and one adult, a Peregrine Falcon, after a patient wait 3 Wilson’s Snipe, 2 Rough-winged Swallow (probably nesting and first for these trips). After a wonderful dinner we went out to Lexington Township (Back Road) to try for Whip-poor-will, but only had a wonderful chorus of Hermit Thrushes and Veerys with a Wood Thrush thrown in. We settled for a couple of woodcock and one fly over Common Nighthawk.

     “The next day was off to Pierce Pond and Carrying Place Townships and the marsh at Pond Stream and Black Brook Flowage WMA (bog/marsh). At the stream marsh we had our first two of 10 Olive-sided Flycatchers, Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatchers, 6 ravens, 11 warblers including singing Northern Waterthrush w/young, 2 Palm and 2 Wilson’s. 

     “At Black Brook Flowage, …[our] short walk through a spruce bog yielded only my second life time encounter with a male SPRUCE GROUSE – also a female which sat on the trail for the longest time for images to be taken, the first of two Northern Harriers for the trip, 2 more Olive-sided [Flycatchers](these ones seen), 2 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers (also seen), 2 Boreal Chickadees (alas, not seen), 13 Red-breasted Nuthatches (family group of 7-9), serenade of Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes w/Winter Wren thrown in, almost stepping on an Ovenbird young with adult doing broken wing act, a seemingly out of place Pine Warbler, BAY-BREASTED Warbler, plus other warblers including Parula, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, two more Palms, and a pair of Canada Warblers which went ballistic with our presence. 

     “Back at the lodge a walk up the road encountered our only Barred Owls for the trip by the lucky two of us that walked (I was not one). Bluebirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were welcome and a resident sapsucker kept drumming on the metal mailbox for the duration of the trip.

     “The next day we altered our plans for Stewart Mountain since the trust which owns it blocked the roads via gates for the first time. Instead our guide, Greg Drummond, took us into deep into Pierce Pond Township where we encountered perhaps the largest MOOSE I have ever seen, certainly with the largest head dress I have seen. Another Northern Harrier, Broad-winged Hawks, 6 more Olive-sided, one Yellow-bellied, and 3 Alder Flycatchers, 12 warbler species including 31 yellowthroats, American Redstart, 9 Chestnut-sided, another Pine, and 2 MOURNING warblers, 28 White-throated Sparrows, and an Indigo Bunting. Coyote calling during the day was quite stirring.

     “The final day was rainy and we stayed close to home base. Still another Alder Flycatcher and a good view of a singing male Blackburnian made the morning. On the trip back we saw 4 SANDHILL CRANES in Smithfield thanks to Greg and Pat Drummond’s tip to look at those fields.

     “We never saw the sun all weekend and the temps never dropped below 55 and never topped 64. A fun time was had by all and the food was worth the trip alone. We ended the trip with at least 105 species including 20 warblers… 

     “Don’t miss this trip when offered next. It will be worth your while.”

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
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