This column is the second of three reviewing the results of the most recent Christmas Bird Counts in Maine. Let’s visit some coastal count circles together, working our way from York County downeast to Eastport.
The Biddeford/Kennebunkport count produced a nice count of 85 species. One expects significant numbers of sea ducks and other seabirds and that expectation was met.
Horned Grebes outnumbered Red-necked Grebes, 123 to 47. There were also 47 Northern Gannets found along with 83 Great Cormorants.
In looking over the totals for each species, I was struck by the number of species that were represented by just a single individual. Good spotting by the observers! A single individual was found for the following species: Brant, Northern Pintail, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Iceland Gull, Eastern Screech-Owl (an excellent find), Snowy Owl (another great find), Northern Flicker, Carolina Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Snow Bunting and Red-winged Blackbird.
The 14 Red-bellied Woodpeckers and 260 American Robins were impressive high counts.
The Thomaston-Rockland Count yielded 73 species. The Rockland area is a good area for American Coots in the fall and early winter but this year’s count of 601 was spectacular. A flock of 1,300 Common Eiders in Tenants Harbor was impressive.
This year’s count was extraordinary for the number of lingering species. Counters found two Great Blue Herons, five Northern Flickers, 111 American Robins, one Carolina Wren, one Northern Mockingbird, one Yellow-rumped Warbler, 29 White-throated Sparrows, four Savannah Sparrows, a Baltimore Oriole and three Common Grackles.
Other highlights were a pair of Merlins and both species of scaup (ten Greaters and one Lesser). Two unusual species, a pair of Fish Crows and a White-winged Dove, were seen locally around the count day but managed to avoid the observers on the day of the count.
The North Penobscot Bay count, in the Belfast area, produced a nice list of 61 species, a little above average for this count. Highlights included an American Coot, three Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a Clay-colored Sparrow. Three Red-bellied Woodpeckers were nice finds.
Lingering birds included a Green-winged Teal and a Belted Kingfisher. It’s quite odd for Hermit Thrushes to outnumber American Robins on a Maine Christmas Count but that happened on this count. The single Hermit Thrush was the only member of the thrush family found this year.
The owl count was a good one with two Barred Owls, two Great Horned Owls and a Northern Saw-whet Owl.
Continuing eastward, the Moose Island/Jonesport count yielded a fine count of 69 species. An American Woodcock was the most unexpected lingering species. Irruptive finches found the area to there liking as counters found Pine Grosbeaks, White-winged Crossbills and Red Crossbills. Bohemian Waxwings, scarce so far this winter, were found as well.
A Thick-billed Murre was a good find.
The Eastport count produced 62 species. Highlights included a Gadwall in Eastport, a single Wild Turkey, two Red-bellied Woodpeckers in Lubec and a Northern Shrike.
Cobscook Bay and Passamaquoddy Bay are great places for gulls and this year did not disappoint. One Black-headed Gull was a nice find and the 30 Iceland Gulls were an impressive count. This count usually has the highest number of Black-legged Kittiwakes in the state; 1,888 were tallied this year.
Lingering species included 43 American Robins and a Red-winged Blackbird.
Red-necked Grebes put in an impressive showing with the 199 individuals greatly exceeding the counts of 7 Horned Grebes, 15 Common Loons and two Red-throated Loons.
Finches were scarce with six House Finches and 80 American Goldfinches providing the total count.
The Calais count circle is slightly inland from the Eastport circle and unsurprisingly had a lower species count. Highlights included a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a lingering Belted Kingfisher. A lone Pine Siskin was the only irruptive finch found.
[Originally published on January 22, 2012]