Birder's Guide

DEC 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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20 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | December 2018 Maine Big Year work. I spent much of my month at our Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch (Site C18), especially on days with con- ditions that have produced rarities in the past. Fly-by Sandhill Cranes on April 3 would save me some effort later in the year, and I was excited to spot a Black Vulture on April 11. The vulture, however, paled in comparison to the bird of the day: a fly-by Townsend's Solitaire! Neotropical migrants began to return, but an impressive storm system at month's end looked prime for "southern over- shoots", so I dedicated as much time as I could to migrant traps along the coast. The Biddeford Pool neighborhood (Site Y12) is always my first destination in such cir- cumstances, but I did not expect a Gray- cheeked Thrush there on April 27. My first in spring in Maine, this was a far more sat- isfying addition than a nocturnal flight call or fleeting glimpse in the fall. My southerly expectations were met on Bailey Island (Site C23) the next day, where I found my first White-eyed Vireo of the year and my first of what would be a total of four self-found Hooded Warblers of the year. The list grew with each day in May— thanks especially to my local patch, Florida Lake Park (Site C20)—occasionally punc- tuated by an important addition, such as the Evening Grosbeaks that flew over at Old Town House Park (Site C16) during my Saturday morning birdwalk on May 20. I caught up with the only annually occur- ring Orchard Orioles in the state at Capisic Pond Park (Site C9) on the following day. Then, as usual, it was off to Monhegan Island (Site L1) with my store's tour group for Memorial Day weekend. Any visit to Monhegan during migration offers high hopes for rarities, and, with a total of three tours there this year, I needed it to produce for me. However, despite a really great birding weekend, I came away with "only" Summer Tanager, and a very-rare-in-spring Orange-crowned Warbler (but I would find a total of five in the fall). My guiding schedule was jam-packed in 2017, and tours would take me all over the state as usual. Trips to boreal forest with cli- ents and tours added the likes of Mourning Warbler (missed it in spring migration), Boreal Chickadee, and Gray Jay. My 10- day comprehensive breeding season tour for WINGS was especially important for me to clean up the breeding birds, such as Spruce Grouse at Boot Head Preserve (Site WN8) on June 21 and Common Murre at Machias Seal Island (Site WN7). Usually in June I am too busy to chase (rarities are always on the opposite side of the state than I am during any given tour) and, once again, I missed a few goodies. But I had an incredible stroke of luck with not just two great rarities in two days, but two state birds that I happened to be free for. Or, actually, mostly free. On June 12, our wedding anniversary, we were getting ready to head to our fancy dinner in Portland when we received word of a Magnificent Frigatebird over Prouts Neck in Scarborough. We raced to Pine Point (Site C1), called the restaurant which graciously allowed us to delay our reser- vation, and spotted the frigatebird in the distance, soaring over Prouts Neck. The next day, we had plans with our new neighbors. We were supposed to head over to their house for cocktails in the evening, but when word of a Snowy Plover—a first state record!—at Reid State Park (Site SA3) was received, we decided to test the new friendship. "So, what do you guys think about maybe a walk on the beach on this sultry evening?" We figured any friends of birders would eventually find out what it's like to be friends of birders, so we might as well break them in early. And now that their first life bird was a Snowy Plover in n above : To the delight of Big Year birders from near and far, a Little Egret (left) returned for at least its third consecutive summer in 2017. It took several attempts to finally record it from a site within the guide, as it preferred random nooks and crannies around the limited-access shorelines of Portland and Falmouth. Photo © Jeannette Lovitch n left : A Maine Big Year calls for a clean sweep of the "boreal specialties", and I was pleased to find Spruce Grouse on several occasions, such as here at the famous Boot Head Preserve in Lubec. Photo © Derek Lovitch

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