Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Monhegan Island & southern Maine.

We decided not to risk the Boston exodus traffic on the Friday evening (23rd May) on the long memorial weekend. Instead we stayed home & rose at 2 am on 24th! We sped through the city & on to the freeway & we found ourselves at our destination two hours early! Dawn was breaking so we visited Pemaquid Point, which was very scenic & I spotted a few birds:
 Dawn breaking at Pemaquid Point.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

4 White-winged Scoter; 10 Common Eider; 2 Black Guillemot; 4 Black throated Green Warbler;  Chestnut-sided Warbler & 2 Song Sparrow.
Male Common Eider.
Female Common Eider.
 Black Guillemot.
 Black-throated Green Warbler.
Song Sparrow.

 We then enjoyed a nice breakfast at a diner in Bristol, before catching the Hardy boat from New Haven across to Monhegan Island.
 New Haven harbour.

 Maine is of course, the home of the Lobster!
 The ferry to Monhegan Island.
 Getting ready to sail.
Our first view of Monhegan Island.
Common Loon in winter plumage.

The crossing was uneventful, with no pelagic species seen, however a few Common Loons were noted, as well as a distant Northern Gannet.

 Trailing Yew, a rather eccentric place to stay!

 The main road through the village.
One of the many pretty homes found here.

On arrival, we transferred our luggage to a waiting truck & we walked the short distance to the Trailing Yew, our home for the next two nights. On walking through the village, we noticed a lot of holiday homes, which were currently empty, as it was too early in the season. And the lack of vehicles was a definite plus factor. We were quickly shown our room & we were ready for the off!

 Burnt Head.
 Walking north, along the east coast.

 Vistas are big!

American Herring Gull

Barbara wanted to walk around the island & we set off across to Burnt Head and then north along the eastern most side of the island. It was very scenic & as we progressed the sun came our & it made for a very pleasant walk.

 The whole island is susceptible to fires,
so this is a very good idea.
 One of the main trails through the woods.
Trails, especially those close to the coast,
can be steep & hard going.

 We reached the most northerly point of the island & then cut inland along Fern Glen & down through Cathedral Woods, into the village. That was a walk of around four hours & only a few migrant birds were noted.
 Eastern Kingbird.
Yellow Warbler.
 Male Magnolia Warbler.
Female Magnolia Warbler.

Things picked up a little in the patchwork of habitats that were found in & around the most habitable area of the island: 10+ Eastern Kingbird; 2 Swainson's Thrush; 5 Yellow Warbler; Chestnut-sided Warbler; 3 Magnolia Warbler; 5 Black throated Green Warbler; 4 Yellow-rumped Warbler; 2 American Redstart; 12 Common Yellowthroat; Canada Warbler & Wilson's Warbler.
Dusk, on our first day on the island,
 looking from the Wharf.

Then it was time for our evening meal & bed. But before that, we climbed Lighthouse Hill & enjoyed the dusk. An American Woodcock serenaded us, as it displayed over the fields & woods behind. Both Barbara & I were exhausted. It had been a long day!
The 25th dawned grey & overcast, but quickly cleared up & turned into a very nice sunny day. Just standing outside our lodging, it became immediately apparent that there had been a fall of migrants. warblers were darting about everywhere. I decided to walk down to Lobster Cove  & then return for breakfast. I only just made it back in time, there were a lot of birds around!

The open area at Lobster Cove
which is good for migrants.
 Female Scarlet Tanager.
 Magnolia Warbler, feeding on insects in the seaweed.
Savannah Sparrow.
 After breakfast, Barbara & I walked slowly north. And I mean slowly! Migrants were abundant & our progress was painfully slow, so slow infact, that Barbara decided to go hiking alone & explore some trails she hadn't been on before. I meandered my way north, via the village & the Ice Pond.
Ice Pond.

There was one little clump of bushes with both Red-eyed & Philadelphia Vireos feeding in it. American Redstarts were common today, as were Northern Parula; Yellow Warbler; Chestnut-sided Warbler & Magnolia Warbler.
 Red-eyed Vireo.
 Philadelphia Vireo.
American Redstart.
Northern Parula.
Yellow Warbler.
I walked a little further on & explored the area around Ice Pond. Down one little lane, I saw a  Brewer's Sparrow. The bird was performing nicely & at close quarters. I watched it for around 15 minutes & took a lot of photographs.
 Brewer's Sparrow.

 Very tame & confiding.
I believe that this is the first record for Maine & only the sixth for the eastern United States. It is a common bird of sagebrush in the far west of the US. However, it is remarkable here.
I continued my perambulations, racking up an impressive total of migrants. Totals relate to only what I saw, on my relatively small area of the island that I covered today:
Common Nighthawk; Ruby-throated Hummingbird; 2 Eastern Wood Pewee; Alder Flycatcher; 3 Alder/Willow Flycatcher; 2 Least Flycatcher; Acadian Flycatcher; 20+ Eastern Kingbird; 2 Philadelphia Vireo; 8 Red-eyed Vireo; 6 Barn Swallow; 4 Tree Swallow; Veery; 4 Cedar Waxwing; 12 Northern Parula; 15+ Yellow Warbler; 10+ Chestnut-sided Warbler; 25+ Magnolia Warbler; Blackburnian Warbler; 2 Black-throated Blue Warbler; Black-throated Green Warbler; 7 Yellow-rumped Warbler; 10+ Blackpoll Warbler; 2 Bay-breasted Warbler; 5 Black & White Warbler; 20+ American Redstart; 6 Common Yellowthroat; Northern Waterthrush; Ovenbird; 7 Canada Warbler; 15+ Wilson's Warbler; Scarlet Tanager; Summer Tanager; 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak; 2 Indigo Bunting; 6 Savannah Sparrow; Field Sparrow; White-throated Sparrow; Baltimore Oriole & 3 Bobolink.

 Cedar Waxwing.
 Black-throated Green Warbler.
 Blackpoll Warbler.
 Black & White Warbler.
 Savannah Sparrow.
Baltimore Oriole.
I then met up with Barbara & we had another walk around the village, ending up at the local brewery, which was very good by the way!

Looking across the marsh,
towards the Lighthouse on the hill.
Bobolink, next to the marsh.
 The rather quaint, island library.
 Barbara goes shopping in the mall!
Not much Max Mara, Chanel or Gucci
 in there, was there?
 The local brewery, which was very good.
That is not even beer!
We enjoyed a lovely evening meal & then climbed  Lighthouse Hill, to watch the sunset over the sea.

I was up early at the crack of dawn, on the 26th.  It was another overcast early morning, but it yet again, cleared up later, & we enjoyed a fine day on the island. I birded the areas of vegetation around the village & then met up with Barbara & we hiked over to the east side of the island, via the Burnt Head Trail & back via Underhill Trail.
 Looking across to the village, from the cemetery.
 As it was memorial day we thought we would take a
 walk & pay our respects to the fallen.
View from the Lighthouse.


Migrants were still plentiful, but not in the same numbers as yesterday. 
 Brewer's Sparrow was again present,
 but had moved to the Community Gardens.
 Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
 Northern Parula.
 Black & White Warbler
 Black-throated Green Warbler.
 Blackpoll Warbler.
 Baltimore Oriole.

It was now time to pack & get on the boat to return to the mainland. Lots of people were doing the same & it was a bit of a scrum on the dock!
 Getting ready for departure.
 The really ugly gang waiting to leave!
The crossing to the mainland was uneventful, only two Atlantic Puffins were noteworthy. We then had a drive up to & around Round Pond, which is a very scenic area.
 Round Pond harbour.

 Black Guillemot in the harbour.
The only birds of note were a Black Guillemot & 7 Turkey Vultures. Conditions started to deteriorate as we drove towards Newcastle & by the time we found our lodgings, it was pouring with rain & very dismal indeed! The lodgings were excellent & we had a nice evening in the King Eider Pub.
We awoke on the morning of 27th to torrential rain! After a hearty breakfast we went into town & had a look around the local bookshop. We then drove to Damaristcota Mills to see the Alewife Restoration Project. However, by this time it really was dark & dismal, with heavy rain falling.
 The lakeside of the river.
The river on the other side of the road.

 Steps or ladders have been created to help
the Alewives swim up river, to spawn.

A small quota of fish is harvested
 for the local community each day.
This is a local community conservation project. Before, the fish were struggling to get to the river & upper lake to spawn & numbers were of course, declining. Today this species is increasing in this area & the local people are also harvesting this resource. Of course, where you get large congregations of fish, you also get the fish eaters!
 Around 150+ Double-crested Cormorants
were present.
 Immature & adult Bald Eagles.
 A fine adult Bald Eagle.

Heavily cropped - the distance was around 300m
in persistent rain.
We then drove further south in increasingly heavy rain. But by the time we arrived at Scarborough Marsh it had stopped raining but was bitterly cold & very windy. I was here to look for the saltmarsh sparrows, but it didn't look good. And so it proved! We spent around one & half hours here, but drew a blank on the sparrows. Several pairs of Eastern Willets were nesting in the saltmarsh.
 The nesting boxes are for Tree Swallows.
But the Willets love them as well!
We called in at another all American diner & then made our way home arriving around 7.30pm. It had been a great four day weekend.

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