Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Maine June 2012


Trip Report
Maine...with stops in New York and New Hampshire, USA
20 – 29 June 2012
David M. Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman

20 June 2012
Waterloo, ON – Westfield, MA

          We left home at 05:10 for the start of our journey to take part in a birding trip to Maine under the auspices of the Dayton, OH Audubon Club. It was billed as The Maine Puffin Trip.
         As we pulled away from our driveway we were serenaded by robins and the sky was starting to get light. It was necessary for me to go into Toronto to schedule my crews, but with business taken care of we headed for the border crossing from Queenston, ON to Lewiston, NY. When we entered the United States it was already 28.5°C at 09:06.
          Border traffic was insignificant and we passed through the checkpoint quickly. Miriam was crocheting and the immigration agent asked whether she was making birds' nests, which seemed like a prescient question at the beginning of a birding adventure!
          We arrived at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at 11:30 in 33°C heat. Unlike our visit last fall there was no standing water at the refuge headquarters and everywhere looked parched. The main attraction was a colony of Purple Martins breeding in an array of nest houses and gourds. The chattering of the birds and the presence of numerous young was quite delightful. Three Spotted Sandpipers picked their way through the grass where a few wet patches remained. In stark contract to the substantial concentration of waterfowl throughout the refuge in October, the lagoons were mostly devoid of birds in the summer. Highlights were a majestic adult Bald Eagle, an Olive-sided Flycatcher and a Pied-billed Grebe with young. We ate the sandwiches we had brought from home while meandering along at a slow birding speed.
          At 16:42 we entered Massachusetts and made our way to the Econo Lodge at Westfield where we had stayed en route to Cape Cod last October. We arrived there at 17:30 and once we had settled into the room I went over to Wendy's to pick up two baked potatoes, a Baja chicken salad, a Chicken Cobb salad and two lemonades which served as dinner.
          We read for a while and turned in before 21:00 in order to be well rested for the journey to Portland, ME the next day.

All species 20 June – Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Western Osprey, Bald Eagle, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Mourning Dove, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Northern Mockingbird, Common Starling, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Common Yellowthroat, American Yellow Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow.

Accomodation: Econo Lodge, Westfield, MA.

Price: $72.03 including tax. Rating: 3.5 stars.

21 June 2012
Westfield, MA – Coastal New Hampshire – Portland, ME

          We were both awake about 05:00 so we made a coffee in the room, showered and went for breakfast at 06:00. I had cream cheese on a bagel and Miriam had raisin bran cereal. Returning to our room, we brushed our teeth and were on the road by 06:35. Even at this early hour it was already a sizzling 25°C. We encountered rush hour traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike and the going was quite slow at times. In any event we crossed the state line into New Hampshire at 09:08 and stopped at the welcome centre to pick up a map.
          We decided to get off the interstate highway and chose a route along the coast towards Maine. This turned out to be a very pleasant route and we made several birding stops along the way.
          Our first foray was at Hampton Beach where the beaches were crowded and the parking at a premium – and expensive! We drove past the main sun worshipper beaches to an area of rocky shoreline where we parked at a meter. There were birding opportunities on both sides of the road, coastal rocks on the one and a saltwater marsh on the other. We observed several Common Terns, a single Caspian Tern, seven White-winged Scoters and two Great Northern Loons, among others.
          Driving northwards along the coast road we were able to pull off at the side  near Bass Beach in North Hampton where the singular pleasure of several female Common Eiders with young was right before our eyes. Some of the ducklings were barely more than balls of down and it seemed quite incredible how proficiently they rode the swell. Some of them scampered up onto a rock, only to be swept off by the surf, but undeterred they quickly resumed their position on the rock next to their mother.

           Common Eider
          At 11:30 we stopped for lunch at Ray's Seafood Restaurant in Rye. It always dismays us when full service restaurants use disposable items, but this was the case here. The food was served on paper plates, the drinks in paper cups. The food, however, was delicious and very reasonable. Miriam selected a shrimp roll with cocktail sauce, while I had a haddock sandwich with tartar sauce and cole slaw. We both had iced water with lemon to drink which was both refreshing and hydrating, for the temperature had now climbed to 39°C. We left the restaurant
feeling well satisfied.
          We birded for a brief period at Rye but the stifling heat quickly drove us back to the air conditioned comfort of the vehicle and we headed for Maine.
          We arrived at the Airport Comfort Inn in South Portland, ME at 14:30. When I went to the desk to check in I gave my name and indicated that I was a member of the Dayton Audubon trip and I was immediately handed a room key. There were no registration forms to fill out, in fact no other formalities at all. Everything had been taken care of and we were impressed with the efficiency of Jennifer Monahan, our trip leader, and we hadn't even met her yet!
          When we got to the room Miriam made coffee for us while I did my New Hampshire bird list. We were quite happy to relax before meeting everyone for a welcome dinner at 19:00.
          Having showered and changed we met the rest of the group – Bob Duchesne, our guide, the aforementioned Jennifer Monahan, Becky Wright, Brad Bond, Steve and Betty Leve, Dan Mosher, Brian Sturges, and Skip and Carol Mosmiller. We took dinner at a local restaurant where the food was simply delicious. I had the “lazy man”lobster, where they shuck it for you, with rice pilaf and cole slaw. Miriam chose haddock stuffed with crab and a baked potato. We both had a glass of the house white wine which was very palatable.
          By 21:00 we were back in the room, looking forward to the start of our birding adventure the following day.

All species  21 June – Mallard, Common Eider, White-winged Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Northern Loon, Great Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Western Osprey, Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, American Herring Gull, Caspian tern, Common Tern, Northern Flicker, American Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Song Sparrow.

Accommodation: The Airport Comfort Inn, South Portland, ME.  Rating: 4 stars.

Bumper Stickers

          We always pay attention to bumper stickers and are sometimes horrified by what we read. Here are a few of the more distressing one we saw on this day.

“If you voted for Obama last time to prove you're not racist, vote for anyone else this time to prove you're not stupid.”

“Gun control means using both hands.”

“Buy a gun – piss off a liberal.”

“America's Enemy No. 1 – a liberal.”

Hmmm.........

22 June 2012
Portland -  Stratton

            We awoke early and at 05:15 we had a cup of tea in bed. Breakfast was scheduled for 07:00 and we arrived a little ahead of that.  The breakfast room was quite chaotic due to the sheer volume of people all trying to eat at the same time, but we waited a while and got a table. The complimentary breakfast was quite extensive and featured both hot and cold items. Miriam had orange juice and coffee, yoghurt, an orange and a small muffin. I had coffee, a bagel with cream cheese, a sausage patty and a boiled egg.
          We returned to our room to collect our bags and birded outside on the patio while Bob loaded the van. It was an intricate operation given the number of items, but he completed it as though putting together a life size jig saw puzzle. It's amazing what will fit under a seat! There were still several bags on the back seat, however, but Dan wedged himself in and took that position for most of the trip.
          In high spirits we headed out for Scarborough Marsh with expectations of lifers for everyone.

Scarborough Marsh 08:15 – 09:45

          This vast marsh (3,100 acres) is the Pine Tree State's largest marine reserve and supports a great variety of life.
          Even the more common species of birds such as Willet and Glossy Ibis were exciting for us since we see them infrequently at home.
Both species make the rare bird alerts when they show up from time to time in southern Ontario. In this section of the marsh our target bird was Nelson's Sparrow, a lifer for Miriam and many others in the group. We were not disappointed. Bob located a single bird and we all had ample opportunity to see the bird very well.
          Our walk along a well-travelled path was very enjoyable under bright sky with myriad birds all around.

Pine Point 09:55 – 10:15

            This stop yielded several Common Eiders, a lifer for many. Before the trip was over we would see hundreds of them. American Black Duck was quite common and a Great Black-backed Gull alongside a Herring Gull revealed its great size; in fact it is the largest gull in the world.

Scarborough Beach 10:25 – 11:25

            It was a very pleasant stroll between between beachfront properties onto the wide sandy beach where many people were enjoying  life at the ocean in different ways. 
          We moved along to a sort of breakwater where we had the unbridled delight of two Red-throated Loons, almost in full breeding plumage, and two Roseate Terns in front of us, while behind us a Piping Plover scampered to and fro, at times going right to the water's edge. We saw our only Little Blue Heron of the trip at this location.

                                                                                                               Piping Plover

Scarborough Marsh 11:30 – 11:50

            Bob obviously knows this marsh like the back of his hand and having located Nelson's Sparrow earlier he brought us here to search for Saltmarsh Sparrow. It didn't take long! Soon we had four of them flying back and forth and perched atop marsh vegetation where everyone was able to see them well.  Three species of swallow cruised through the air, snapping up insects and a kingfisher was perched on a snag in the distance.

          It was lunch time, and on Bob's recommendation, we headed for the Lobster Shack, with tables overlooking the ocean. It was a busy spot with long lineups but we finally got our food and settled in to enjoy it at a fabulous location. Miriam and I both had what was termed a clam cake boat, which came with french fries and cole slaw. The “cakes” were like crispy wafers with no identifiable taste, but the weather and the marvellous ocean side setting more than compensated for any lack of appeal to the food. Miriam had pink lemonade and I enjoyed an iced tea.
          By 13:15 we were back in the van and heading for the western mountains.

Lake Messalonskee 14:50 – 15:05

          We made a brief stop here to get Black Tern and saw three of them without difficulty. An American Bittern was fully visible and a Great Northern Loon had a chick with it. A male Wood Duck evinced the kind of response that normally accompanies a sighting of this truly magnificent bird.

          We had intermittent showers soon after we were back in the van, but it didn't delay our progress, At 16:00 we stopped at a gas station near to Gifford's Ice Cream emporium, and several people patronized it after Bob told them it was the best ice cream in the state, having won many awards. By now the sun was up again and it was very warm so no doubt the ice cream was especially welcome.
           On the road again for the final push to our destination for the night, the Spillover Motel in Stratton, where we arrived at 17:15. This was a very pleasant hostelry and the room was spacious and well appointed. We were quite happy there.
          We had just settled into our room when Betty knocked on our door to announce that she had found a Luna Moth and inquired whether we would like to see it. How thoughtful of her and what a magnificent specimen it was. I had never seen one before and was so happy to have the chance.

                                                            Luna Moth
          We all met at 18:15 to go to the White Wolf Restaurant for a delicious dinner. Miriam chose haddock stuffed with lobster, accompanied by a baked potato and a tasty cabbage salad. I enjoyed the fish fry which comprised haddock and clams with french fries and cole slaw. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc rounded off everything nicely.
          We returned to the motel at 20:00h where a great, albeit somewhat short, sleep awaited us.

All species 22 June – Canada Goose, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Common Eider, Black Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Great Northern Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Glossy Ibis, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Western Osprey, Killdeer, Willet, Great Black-backed Gull, American Herring Gull, Roseate Tern, Common Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Raven, Cedar Waxwing, Black-capped Chickadee, Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Cliff Swallow, Marsh Wren, Grey Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Common Starling, American Robin, House Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Common Yellowthroat, American Yellow Warbler, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Bobolink, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparow, Nelson's Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Northern Cardinal.

Accommodation: Spillover Motel, Stratton, ME
Rating: 4 stars.

23 June 2012
Stratton – Millinocket

          We were up and about by 04:00 in order to be on site for the Bicknell's Thrush somewhere close to daybreak. Coffee and bagels had been prepared for us in a downstairs kitchen, but Miriam and I both just had coffee before leaving at 05:00. Steve and Betty decided to stay behind and get a little extra sleep. It was a cool, pleasant morning and the rain that Bob had seen on the radar passed south of us.


Black Knubble Mountain 05:30 – 09:16

            We headed up a logging road as far as we could drive in the van, then ascended a skidder trail to areas where Bob had previously sighted Bicknell's Thrush.
          On the way we were treated to the grand experience of seeing many warbler species on their breeding territories, a much different encounter from that had at migratory hot spots such as Point Pelee or Magee Marsh where we see concentrations of warblers in spring.  The most common species was Blackpoll Warbler and it was rarely that we did not have at least one in view and it seemed they were never out of earshot. There were also breeding Mourning Warblers, American Redstarts and the sweet song of the White-throated Sparrow pervaded the air. A Boreal Chickadee (a lifer for many) was seen carrying food. It was a unique privilege to immerse oneself in the boreal forest so essential to the survival of many neotropical migrants.

                                                      Bob Duchesne
       
   The Bicknell's Thrush, however, proved elusive. We climbed higher...and higher...and higher!  I think that Bob was about to admit defeat when Jennifer spotted the bird perched atop a small bush. Everyone saw it and Dan managed to take a good photograph. We were all truly elated to see one of the rarest and most difficult birds to see in all of North America, and a species that is declining mainly due to loss of habitat in its wintering range on the island of Hispaniola. For the rest of the trip we referred to the bird as Monahan's Thrush!
          The loud, persistent song of the Winter Wren rang out in the morning air – an amazingly robust and far reaching sound for so small a bird. I was charmed by singing Fox Sparrows whose repertoire I could not recall having heard before.
          We were back at the motel by 09:30 where we breakfasted on coffee and bagels with cream cheese. We were able to take it outside and sit at a picnic table in the early morning sun. A couple of Eastern Phoebes sallied forth from their perches to snag passing insects. I guess we had breakfast together.
          Bob loaded up the van and we set off for the Orono Bog. On the way, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up items for lunch. Miriam chose a chicken wrap, I had sushi and we both selected a banana and an apricot.  Miriam also picked up a bottle of iced green tea. We ate at a picnic table in the Bangor City Forest – quite lovely!

Orono Bog 13:55 – 15:30
           
            What a fabulous place! Without a doubt this is the finest, most extensive, pristine bog that I have ever seen. Sheep laurel dotted the landscape, there were bog orchards and pitcher plants, with tussock cotton grass and many other interesting and beautiful plants I could not identify. The water was the colour of tea, no doubt a result of the underlying peat.

                                                         Pitcher Plant
        
           As for bird life it was magnificent. In rapid order we saw the following wood warblers: Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Myrtle, Canada, Palm and Common Yellowthroat. Lincoln's Sparrow was common and easily seen. One was carrying food. The fact that all these birds were on their breeding territories added great significance to the sightings. Once again, White-throated Sparrow was omnipresent and vocal, and despite what our American friends might think we know it was singing “Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada!”
          To say that I was enthralled by this place would be the understatement of the day.
          We boarded the van a little after 15:30 and drove non-stop, other than to refuel, to the Big Moose Inn, where we arrived at just past 17:00. This place is quite charming in many respects, but our room was tiny to say the least and the bathrooms were shared. This presented no problem, except for the fact that there was nowhere to set anything down other than on the toilet seat.
          Miriam showered before dinner and we met in the dining room at 18:30. It was 20:00 before we were served any food! Miriam had lemon roasted duck with a salad of cucumber, tomatoes, olives, onion, mozzarella cheese and Italian bread. I chose osso bucco and a house salad with blue cheese dressing. I had a couple of glasses of merlot, but Miriam was content with iced tea. For dessert we both enjoyed  white chocolate crême brulée.
          Our original plan had been to have a night drive to look for moose but we called it off due to heavy rain. We returned to our room a little after 21:00 and slept fitfully on a bed that was comfortable but pretty narrow for two people.

All species 23 June – Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Grey Jay, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Raven, Boreal Chickadee, Sand Martin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Grey Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Bicknell's Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Pine Siskin, Two-barred Crossbill, Nashville Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, American Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Palm Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping Sparrow.

Accommodation: Big Moose Inn. Rating: 3.5 stars.

24 June 2012
Baxter State Park  06:00 – 16:45

          It rained heavily all night and between that and the narrow bed in a hot room sleep did not come easily.
          We went down for breakfast at 05:00 where a variety of items were set out and blueberry pancakes were being prepared on a griddle. Miriam had pancakes and a very juicy orange. I chose a bowl of cereal and we both had coffee.
          In preparation for a whole day to be spent in Baxter State Park the lodge provided a boxed lunch. The eminently sensible arrangement was that all the items offered were laid out for each individual to choose according to his/her preferences. The selection was then placed in a bag on which you wrote your name. This totally eliminated the wasted food normally contained in a boxed lunch. I think that Miriam and I pretty much chose the same items, namely, a delicious chicken salad sandwich made with dried cranberries, grapes and walnuts, a little bag of mini carrots, sun chips, grapes, a banana, water and a V-8 type vegetable juice for me.
          We were on the road to Baxter S.P. At 05:45 under light rain.
           We stopped for a male Spruce Grouse promenading at the side of the road, a life bird for many. It was still raining, and the hordes of mosquitoes and black flies were truly bothersome, but we birded along the road regardless. Poor Jennifer seemed to be a magnet for the biting insects and even though we all applied insect repellent if there was even a square millimetre of skin left unprotected they seemed to find it.
          Before the trip was over Jennifer had some serious welts, but we never heard her complain even for a minute.                                                  Miriam
          At this stage our principal targets were Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two of Jennifer's most desired species, but we were unable to turn up either one. We did locate a Boreal Chickadee, much desired by Steve and Betty, who had missed it when they stayed behind on our Bicknell's Thrush quest.
          Ever since Harvey Mudd and I got into a limerick writing contest in Bhutan, I have taken to writing limericks or amateurish poems of no literary merit, to entertain everyone on long rides, or simply to lighten up the moment. There were a couple of such offerings on this trip, and since Jennifer requested that I include them in this report, the first one follows.

          Oh dear Three-toed Woodpecker
          Where did you go?
          I'm Bob Duchesne
          And I'd like to know

          I saw you quite often
          So I know you are there;
          I beg and I plead
          That you'll start to play fair.
         
          From miles and kilometres
          These people did travel,
          The mystery of Three-toed
          They'd like to unravel.

          From Ontario and Maryland,
          Idaho and beyond,
          For a brief look at you -
          Of that they'd be fond.

          I'm starting to worry,
          Beginning to perspire.
          From my career as a guide
          I'll have to retire.

          It goes without saying that Bob took this in the good-natured, jocular spirit in which it was intended.
          Our walk to the road had taken us through a campground where there were feeders
patronized by Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins.
          Around noon we all clambered back into the van to drive to a picnic area for lunch. Thankfully the rain had eased somewhat and the pestilence of insects was not as bad as it had been all morning.
          The afternoon was spent driving along a glacial esker and stopping at various points to bird. We spotted two adult Ruffed Grouse, one of which was shepherding her young to the safety of the forest. A sighting of Common Goldeneye with young was my first ever of this species in its breeding range.
          Upon arrival back at the lodge a Pine Warbler perched in the open and sang for us.
          Dinner was at 18:15 and we were the only guests in the dining room. The meal was truly splendid. It was a fixed menu so that everyone had the same food. To start we were served a large, puffy cinnamon bun, which seems like an odd choice, but it was enjoyed by everyone. This was followed by tomato hamburger soup, hot and tasty; I don't believe there was anything left in any of the bowls. Next we received a tomato and cucumber salad topped with a creamy dressing. The main course was grilled salmon with a blueberry/strawberry chutney, served over a vegetable risotto, accompanied by green beans. There were several desserts on offer and Miriam and I both had chocolate “moose.” Everyone had iced water to drink and Miriam also had a decaf coffee.
          Afterwards we all (except Miriam who stayed behind) went off to look for moose. After a successful quest we returned to the lodge. Miriam was already in bed when I got to the room, so I crawled in beside her and we both had a good night's sleep.

All species 24 June – Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Ring-necked Duck,  Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Great Northern Loon, American Bittern, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, American Kestrel, Spotted Sandpiper, American Herring Gull, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, Grey Jay, Blue Jay, American Crow, Boreal Chickadee, Barn Swallow, American Cliff Swallow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Canada Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

25 June 2012
Big Moose Inn – Machias

          We were in the dining room for breakfast
by 05:00. French toast made from yesterday's leftover cinnamon buns was being prepared on the grill. Never a big fan of this item, I passed and had a bowl of cereal, a fried egg on a muffin and a banana. Miriam, however, had the French toast and an orange. We both had coffee, of course.
          We assembled our luggage downstairs for loading into the van later.  Bob announced that he had a Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling. Soon we all had it in view for excellent looks.
          Lunch was selected in the same fashion as yesterday. The sandwich was Genoa salami on a bun, with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and other items. Miriam added sun chips, mandarin oranges and water; I picked apple sauce and a piece of fruit although I can't remember what.
          Before heading off to renew the woodpecker quest Bob drove by the lakes we had visited the night before to search for moose. We had good luck, so everyone had at least one moose sighting during the trip.

Baxter State Park 07:22 – 12:15
           
            We returned to the same area as yesterday to try once again for the woodpeckers. It was still raining! There were still swarms of biting insects! Alas, no woodpeckers.
          Actually, this morning turned out to be especially frustrating for Bob. We were in an area where he had seen both species in the recent past. Upon returning to the van to move it farther along the road an American Three-toed Woodpecker flew in front of him. He returned to get us all but we were unable to locate the woodpecker again despite a concerted effort from everyone.
          We had some wonderful species including Grey Jay, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak and Spruce Grouse. Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers would not be on our lists for this trip, however.
          Lunch was taken at 11:45 and we moved on around 12:15. We returned to the Big Moose Inn to load up our luggage and bid farewell to Lori and her staff. We had all enjoyed staying there.

Burn Road in Topsfield 15:45 – 16:40

            Dare I say that we searched again for the two boreal woodpeckers? As already noted we had no success with these species and the highlight of this foray was a very cooperative Olive-sided Flycatcher perched atop a snag.
          We motored on towards Machias, at times skirting the border with New Brunswick. We arrived late at our motel, The Machias Motor Inn, so we checked into a very acceptable room and went directly to adjacent Helen's Restaurant for dinner. Miriam had a salad with cream cheese dressing and the combination plate of haddock and shrimp. The meal was delicious other than for her baked potato which was barely warm and undercooked. I had a cup of excellent fish soup and the combination plate of scallops and haddock with eel grass. The food was very enjoyable indeed.
          Bob had been keeping an eye on the weather radar and was having doubts about whether we would be making our trip to Machias Seal Island the following day. He called the captain of the boat and received confirmation that the trip had been cancelled due to bad weather conditions. Naturally, we were all disappointed, but Bob said that we could try again the next day.
          We returned to our room at 21:00, showered and were soon in a very comfortable bed. I think that we were both asleep in minutes.

All species 25 June – Spruce Grouse, American Black Duck, Ring-billed Gull, American Herring Gull, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Northern Flicker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Grey Jay, Blue Jay, American Crow, Barn Swallow, American Cliff Swallow, Grey Catbird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak, Common Yellowthroat, Magnolia Warbler, Palm Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Common Grackle, White-throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow.

Accommodation: Machias Motor Inn  Rating: 4 stars.

26 June 2012
Machias – Quoddy Head Lighthouse – Roque Bluffs – Addison Marsh – Columbia Blueberry Barrens – Machias

            This was an improvisational day. Bob had to come up with locations to fill the void left by the cancelled excursion to Machias Seal Island. This he did very well!
          We all met for breakfast at Helen's Restaurant where Miriam had a huge slice of ham with an egg and toast. I opted for a large bowl of oatmeal with cranberries. Lots of coffee was consumed and we left the restaurant with a full quotient of caffeine.
          The rain was heavy and we returned to our room to await news of the alternate plans for the day. By 08:45 we were all ensconced in the van and took off for new adventures. We passed a small lake containing a Black Duck with young.

Quoddy Head Lighthouse

            It was wet and windy so we did not tarry long here, at the easternmost point in the United States. We did, however, see our first Black Guillemot, a lifer for Miriam, as well as two Razorbills and a Common Eider with seven youngsters.

Boots Head

            My notes are sparse at this stop and I cannot say much other than that we walked on a boardwalk through a bog which, though quite lovely, did not rival the magnificent unit at Orono. For some reason I did not record the bird species here.

          We drove back to Machias for a quick stop at the motel and then to Helen's for lunch. It took an incredibly long time to get our food, but it was well worth the wait. Miriam and I both had lobster rolls, and I also started with a very tasty cup of fish soup. The lobster rolls were simply fabulous and loaded with lobster. Unlike our experience in Cape Cod mayonnaise was used judiciously and did not overwhelm the lobster. These were far and away the best lobster rolls either Miriam or I had ever tasted.
Maine lobster rolls have Cape Cod lobster rolls beaten hands down.
          At 14:00 Bob kindly drove me to the post office so that I could buy stamps for the postcards we had obtained earlier.
          At 14:15 we were on the road again, driving down the coast in somewhat improved conditions. The rain had stopped and the fog had lifted, giving way to an overcast, but dry day.

Roque Bluffs 14:35 – 15:40

            Coastal areas always hold the potential for good birding and while we did not see anything out of the ordinary at this stop there was a nice variety of species. The highlight for both Miriam and me was a small flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets feeding low in a bush which we approached closely. Every detail of their plumage was on display for all to see.

Addison Marsh 16:15 – 16:25

            A short stop at this marsh yielded both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Columbia Blueberry Barrens

            Our route took us along the site of an ancient sea created following the retreat of the glaciers of the last Ice Age. Glacial erratics were strewn everywhere and a substantial esker was also a feature of the landscape. The impoverished soil is ideal for growing blueberries in a commercial fashion.
          Interesting birds were a couple of Vesper Sparrows both posing and singing for everyone, a Brown Thrasher, a couple of Northern Ravens and a Wild Turkey with poults. The ravens were doing their best to separate one of the poults from the rest of the brood and the adult was putting up a vigorous defence. A Northern Harrier quartered the barrens in typical harrier fashion.
          We returned to the motel at 18:00 and went for dinner at Helen's Restaurant at 18:30.
We both ordered haddock stuffed with crab. Miriam added brown rice and broccoli, I had cole slaw and a baked potato. The rice was cold unfortunately and the baked potato barely warm and only partially cooked. The crab-stuffed haddock, however, was simply superb. Jennifer ordered wine for the table and dinner turned into a bit of a farewell meal.
          Helen's restaurant is renowned for blueberry pie and Jennifer had ordered two pies for everyone to share. It absolutely lived up to the advance billing. Without a doubt it was the best blueberry pie I had ever tasted. There was even some left for certain people to have a slice for breakfast!
          We were back in our room by 20:30, showered and turned in for the night.

All species 26 June – Ruffed Grouse, American Black Duck, Common Eider, Double-crested Cormorant, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Northern Flicker, American Crow, Northern Raven, Tree Swallow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Thrasher, Common Starling, Veery, American Robin, Myrtle Warbler, Common Grackle, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow.

27 June 2012
Machias – Bar Harbor – Acadian National Park – New Harbor – South Portland

            Jennifer and Bob had arranged a trip out of Bar Harbor in order for us to see the puffins so we needed to be up early and had set the alarm for 04:00. The bags were stowed in the van and we were on our way just after 05:00.
          Our first stop was at a Dunkin' Donuts  to pick up breakfast. Miriam had a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and a coffee. I chose tuna salad on a plain bagel and a coffee. Seems more like a lunchtime sandwich; it was in fact quite good.

                                                  American Herring Gull

Puffin Trip from Bar Harbor 08:30 – 09:45

          We arrived in Bar Harbor early and had time to look around a little. I found it an attractive town based on what I saw. We secured our tickets and left the harbour at 08:30 after several messages about potential bad weather. Passengers were actually advised to leave the ship and take a later tour if they had any concerns about their ability to withstand high seas.
          After about a half hour, perhaps a little more, under sea conditions that didn't seem particularly rough to me the captain announced that he was heading back to port due to the heavy swells which would only get worse as we moved farther into open ocean.
          It was a great disappointment, but we did see a Bald Eagle on a rock and Miriam netted her lifer Northern Gannet.

          A measure of despair was beginning to take hold. By now, we all thought that we were going to return home without seeing the signature bird of the trip. But Bob said we had one more chance. We could journey down to New Harbor and take the puffin trip out to Little Egg Rock. It would mean getting back to the Comfort Inn in South Portland late, but everyone instantly agreed that we should give it a try.

Acadia National Park 10:15 – 11:15

          We now had time to visit Acadia National
Park and everyone was pleased that this opportunity had opened up to us. We enjoyed a pleasant walk and saw our first Black-and-White Warbler of the trip. We also heard Ovenbird but I don't think anyone saw it.
          We moved on and at 12:15 stopped at a Subway Sandwich Shop to get lunch. Miriam had a BLT with avocado and I had the veggie delight, which we shared, so we each had half of each sandwich. We actually ate lunch at an area with picnic tables by the water, a pleasant location indeed. With everyone's appetite sated we reboarded the van  at 13:20 to head south to New Harbor. It was  very grey and overcast with light showers as we drove on.
          It was this leg of the journey that led me to create my second bit of doggerel which is reproduced herewith.

          Thanks be to Bob
          Who will not give up.
          A puffin he'll find
          Before dinner we'll sup.

          We drive down the highway
          All filled with good cheer
          And hope and desire
          For an alcid so dear.

          Its bill will amaze us,
          Its antics will charm.
          The search has been lengthy
          But it's done us no harm.

          With Maine we're entranced,
          In fact we're in love
          With every last bird
          From Spruce Grouse to dove.

          And so good friends
          Let us say with great might
          A big thanks to Jennifer
          For a trip filled with delight.

New Harbor 16:35 – 19:10

            We arrived in New Harbor just after 16:30 and immediately took steps to secure our tickets for the Hardy Tours puffin trip.
          With high hopes, we stayed close to the dock until we boarded the vessel. All the auguries seemed to be with us as the water seemed relatively calm and there was nary a hint from anyone that the voyage might not take place.

                                                       Laughing Gull

          We boarded the boat at 17:00 and at 17:30 were underway. Yippee! There was some cloud and a modest chop to the waves, but nothing to prevent a continued journey out to Little Egg Rock. It was not long before we were attentively listening to a narrative from the Maine Audubon Society as we headed out towards the southernmost Atlantic Puffin colony in the world. En route we were elated to have a Manx Shearwater fly parallel with the boat and before you could say “Watch for puffins” there they were - in the water, on the wing, heading out to sea, returning with bills full of fish, doing everything puffins are supposed to do. We were all thrilled and I am sure that for both Jennifer and Bob elation was tinged with shades of relief.
A couple of Wilson's Storm Petrels put in an appearance and Black Guillemots were numerous. Both Arctic Terns and Common Terns were present and we could see research workers on Little Egg Rock. I never actually saw a Razorbill but the decoys were so realistic that I was totally confused by one and if it hadn't been pointed out to me I would have counted Razorbill on my list!

                                                      Atlantic Puffin
      
          After a couple of forays alongside the rock the captain turned the boat around and headed for port. We were docked again by 19:30.
          Betty was a little green from the motion of the boat but other than that everyone was highly energized by a successful expedition to see these enigmatic birds.
          We piled into the van and set off for Portland. En route we stopped at a McDonald's Restaurant to grab a quick dinner that we could eat en route. Miriam and I both had Angus beef wraps. Betty had by now regained her normal colour and we were happy to see her get something to eat.
          We arrived at the Comfort Inn around 21:30 and quickly unloaded the luggage.
          Bob certainly deserves a huge amount of thanks for his dedication in bringing the puffin search to a successful conclusion. He still had to drive another three hours to get home and prepare for another trip he was leading the next day. Miriam and I regretted that in the rush to unload the bags and for him to get back on the road we didn't get a chance to say goodbye and express our appreciation for a job well done.
          Everyone had different departure plans so we said our farewells before going up to our room. A memorable birding trip to Maine had come to an end with the kind of nail-biting conclusion that would have done a suspense novel proud!

All species 27 June – Common Eider, Manx Shearwater,  Wilson's Storm Petrel, Northern Gannet, Double-crested Cormorant, Northern Harrier, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, American Herring Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Guillemot, Atlantic Puffin, Rock Dove, Blue-headed Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Black-capped Chickadee, Barn Swallow, House Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Ovenbird, Black-and-White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Black-throated Green Warbler.

Accommodation: The Airport Comfort Inn, South Portland, ME.  Rating: 4 stars.

General Comments

          What a gloriously beautiful state and what wonderful birds. This trip was all that we could have hoped for and we consider ourselves fortunate to have taken part. We made new friends and are determined to visit Ohio to bird with some of them next spring.

Our Guide

          It would be hard to heap too much praise on Bob Duchesne. I cannot imagine a more dedicated guide, anxious to find the species his clients wished to see, and eager to show them  not only the avifauna of the state but its expansive habitats and myriad beautiful areas. I cannot imagine anyone who could know the state better. Not only did we have the services of a superb natural history leader, we were plied with information about many other aspects of the state – its history, economy, past, future, and politics. As a State Representative Bob was able to provide a unique insight into aspects of Maine of which others would simply be ignorant.
          Miriam joins me in saying that if you have the chance to go birding in Maine you could have no finer companion than Bob Duchesne.

Our Trip Leader

          In the echelons of nice people you meet in life Jennifer Monahan is at the very top level. It was always a pleasure to be around Jennifer and she never for a moment lost her infectious good humour no matter what situation presented itself. It was a great pleasure and privilege to travel with her.

Taxonomy

            I have adopted the nomenclature and taxonomy of the IOC World Bird List 2011 for my life list and this work is used throughout this report. People who use other taxonomy (e.g. Clements, Howard & Moore etc.) should have no difficulty recognizing birds with different names.

Further Information

            Contact David M. Gascoigne or Miriam Bauman, 519 725-0866, email: theospreynest@sympatico.ca

28 June 2012
South Portland, ME – Keene, NH

          Miriam woke early and was showered before I even got out of bed. We made a coffee in the room a little after 06:00 and went downstairs for breakfast just before 07:00. Miriam had yoghurt, an orange and coffee, while I chose sausage on an English muffin, a hard-boiled egg, yoghurt and coffee.
          We were on our way to New Hampshire by 07:40. It felt good to be back in our own vehicle, the day was sunny with a pleasant temperature of 19.5°C.
          Our destination was Center Harbor, NH where Miriam wished to visit Keepsake Quilting, a giant store of some renown. She was not disappointed, spending three hours there and emerging with a considerable quantity of fabric.       I stayed with her in the store for a while, then decided to spend my time in a nearby bookstore where I bought a couple of volumes. I returned to the car to read until she arrived back victorious.
          We stopped at Lakeside Deli & Grill and enjoyed delicious salads on the front porch overlooking the lake. Miriam's choice was a spinach salad with red onions, bacon, caramelized walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
I was very happy with a chicken BLT with blue cheese dressing. Miriam had a coffee, I had a soda.
          We left at 13:30 to head for Canterbury, NH to visit a Shaker Village. We didn't have time to cover it all but what we experienced left us wanting to know more about these fascinating people. It was a visit that we really enjoyed. We were told that only five Shakers now remain, all living in Maine.
          By now we were looking for a place to spend the night and checked into a Best Western inn in Keene, NH. We went for dinner to an Applebee's Restaurant where Miriam selected Grilled jalapeno shrimp with a black bean sauce and corn salsa and vegetables on rice. I chose Asian Lime Chicken also on rice. Both dishes were very good. We both had a glass of iced water with lemon, but I let them twist my arm and ordered a Perfect Margarita!
          Back at the Best Western Miriam soaked in the tub for a while and we were in bed and asleep before 20:00.

Accommodation: Best Western Plus Sovereign Hotel, Keene, NH. Price: $111.83 including tax.
Rating: 4 stars

29 June 2012
Keene, NH – Waterloo, ON

            The complimentary breakfast was in a large room and featured a good variety of items. I had sausage on an English muffin (is this getting to be a habit?) while Miriam opted for cereal and yoghurt. We both had coffee.
          This was a day to drive home, so other than a stop for sandwiches at a Dunkin' Donuts, and restroom breaks, we drove on through the day. We arrived at the border at 15:05 and joined the lineup of traffic, but it moved well and we only spent about a half hour before we were back into Ontario and heading for Waterloo.
          We pulled into our driveway around 17:15 – glad to be home!


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