This post is the second of three reporting highlights of some of the Maine Christmas Bird Counts. We’ll take a tour along the coast in this account.
Let’s begin with the York County count, conducted on December 17. This region has the most moderate climate in the state so we always expect a diversity of lingering breeding birds and migrants. This year did not disappoint.
Eastern Bluebirds have become dependable birds in December along the southern Maine coast. This year, 110 were found on this count. Other lingering species included two Great Blue Herons, three Northern Harriers, five Belted Kingfishers, four Northern Flickers, eight Carolina Wrens, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, four Gray Catbirds, 23 Northern Mockingbirds and a Chipping Sparrow.
Fourteen species of waterfowl were present with Mallards being most abundant with 1109 observed. A Northern Pintail was a nice find.
Grebes were hard to come by. Only two Red-necked Grebes and a dozen Horned Grebes were seen. Twenty-nine Great Cormorants represents a fine total.
Other highlights along the shore were 118 Sanderlings, five Dunlin, ten Black-legged Kittiwakes, a Dovekie and 17 Razorbills.
Three Merlins, a Peregrine Falcon and two Northern Shrikes (uncommon this winter) were no doubt terrorizing smaller birds.
The Biddeford/Kennebunkport count yielded 80 species on December 29. Highlights of the fine total of 18 waterfowl species were a Eurasian Wigeon, seven Harlequin Ducks and a Barrow’s Goldeneye. Ten Northern Gannets were detected just offshore.
Three Dunlin were nice finds in the Maine winter. A Peregrine Falcon was found as well.
Eastern Bluebirds put in a good appearance with 132 seen. Other lingering birds included a Great Blue Heron, an American Woodcock, a Northern Flicker, two Carolina Wrens, 18 Northern Mockingbirds, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, two Fox Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow and a Common Grackle.
Finches were scarce with the highlight being 18 Evening Grosbeaks.
The North Penobscot Bay Count in the Belfast area resulted in a tally of 61 species on December 29. Two Wood Ducks were the only unexpected finds among 13 species of waterfowl.
Five Razorbills were a delightful surprise as was a Peregrine Falcon. Two Northern Shrikes were notable.
Lingering birds included a Belted Kingfisher, two Northern Flickers and a hardy Carolina Wren.
Among the finches, the 68 Pine Grosbeaks and 23 Evening Grosbeaks were stand-outs.
The Mt. Desert Island count on December 15 produced a list of 57 species. Twelve species of waterfowl were tallied. This area is usually good for Common Eiders in the winter and the 1502 on the count confirmed the pattern. A Barrow’s Goldeneye was present.
Four Great Cormorants were unsurprising but the two Double-crested Cormorants were for this time of year.
A single Bonaparte’s Gull added a fourth gull species to the count along with the more common Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls.
The highlight had to be a rare Red-headed Woodpecker. Lingering species were few and far between with a Belted Kingfisher being most notable.
Northern finches were represented by 40 Purple Finches, a White-winged Crossbill and 19 Pine Siskins.
Just a bit to the north and east, the Schoodic Count on New Year’s Day, produced a list of 62 species in the rain and snow. Fourteen species of waterfowl were highlighted by 54 Harlequin Ducks.
The count of 93 Red-necked Grebes was a fine total. The highlight of the count was the discovery of four species of alcids. In addition to the expected Black Guillemots, the Schoodic teams found 55 Razorbills, three Thick-billed Murres and, best of all, three Dovekies.
The gull count included 113 Black-legged Kittiwakes and two Iceland Gulls (uncommon this winter in Maine).
A Northern Harrier, a Red-winged Blackbird and a Common Grackle were hardy lingerers. Winter visitors from the north included a Northern Shrike and 22 Pine Grosbeaks.