This post is the second of three reviewing the highlights of Maine Christmas Bird Counts. These counts took place between mid-December, 2017 and early January, 2018. Today we will take a tour along the coast from York County to the Machias region.
The York County Count on December 18 produced an excellent count of 85 species. A whopping 18 species of waterfowl were highlighted by a Green-winged Teal, a Ring-necked Duck, a Greater Scaup, a Lesser Scaup and 77 Harlequin Ducks.
Two Northern Gannets and 41 Great Cormorants were good finds. Along the shore, participants found 33 Sanderlings, 56 Dunlin and 132 Purple Sandpipers. Just offshore, a single Black Guillemot (low) and 26 Razorbills appeared.
Raptors put on a good show. The list included a Northern Harrier, two Red-shouldered Hawks, three Snowy Owls, a Northern Saw-whet Owl and a Merlin.
Birds lingering from the fall included three Great Blue Herons, two Belted Kingfishers, two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, three Northern Flickers, 94 Eastern Bluebirds, two Hermit Thrushes, five Yellow-rumped Warblers and two Chipping Sparrows.
One rarity was found, an Orange-crowned Warbler.
The Freeport-Brunswick Count produced 60 species on December 29. Thirteen species of waterfowl were found, capped by five Barrow’s Goldeneye. A Rough-legged Hawk was a thrill.
A dozen Red-bellied Woodpeckers made for a nice total of this species that is increasing in fits and starts in Maine.
Species that normally have migrated by now included a Northern Flicker, 41 Eastern Bluebirds, a Hermit Thrush and two Northern Mockingbirds. A Dickcissel was a great find. Just a few are seen in Maine each year.
The Bath-Phippsburg-Georgetown Count, held on December 16 produced a total of 80 species. Two Wood Ducks and eight Barrow’s Goldeneyes were the most notable of the 15 species of waterfowl. Twenty-two Red-throated Loons and 101 Red-necked Grebes were impressive totals for these diving birds.
Shorebirds put on a good show with 15 Dunlin joining the more expected 80 Sanderlings and 117 Purple Sandpipers. Five species of gulls were highlighted by two Black-headed Gulls. A gull relative, a Parasitic Jaeger, was a fantastic sighting.
Black Guillemots, our most common alcid seen from shore, were joined by eight Razorbills and two Atlantic Puffins.
Owls came in pairs this year with doubleton Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls and Snowy Owls. Diurnal raptors included a Peregrine Falcon and a Rough-legged Hawk.
The most notable land birds were lingering species, no doubt now departed either for eternity or for points south. These included a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, three Eastern Bluebirds, two Hermit Thrushes and five Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Offshore we go to Matinicus Island, 20 miles off the mainland in eastern Penobscot Bay. The January 3 count yielded 41 species. A Green-winged Teal was certainly unexpected, among seven other species of waterfowl.
A couple of Northern Gannets and 18 Great Cormorants were nice winter totals. A Ruddy Turnstone was an excellent find. White-winged gulls seem to be uncommon this winter so the one Iceland Gull made for a good discovery.
The perching birds were a real grab-bag of interesting birds: a Red-bellied Woodpecker, seven Northern Flickers, a Gray Catbird, a Northern Mockingbird, 24 Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Common Grackle and 11 White-winged Crossbills.
The Moose Island-Jonesport count in eastern Washington County was conducted on December 16 and resulted in a total of 52 species. The most unusual of the 13 waterfowl species was a Green-winged Teal. Common Eiders were the most abundant duck with 394 counted.
Seventeen Northern Gannets made for an excellent count. Over 2,000 Herring Gulls greatly outnumbered the other gull species (Bonaparte’s, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed).
The forests yielded one Ruffed Grouse and one Spruce Grouse. The count produced very few lingering summer birds: a Northern Harrier, a Gray Catbird and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Two species of finches were found: 31 American Goldfinches and an excellent duo of Evening Grosbeaks.