News & Notes: Conservation Issues


Coldwater Fish in the Summer Heat

Posted on: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

brook-troutIt was one of those infernally hot summer days, when the air anywhere away from the coast was stifling. I didn’t really want to get into the car, but I convinced myself to take a short drive for the chance to ward off the heat by standing in a well-shaded stream.

After rigging up a fly rod and clambering down the steep bank that descends from the bridge abutment, I stepped into the water.  I couldn’t help but notice how cold it was — maybe 40 degrees less than the air temperature. So maybe this was a good idea, I began to think.

I made a cast upstream, aiming for the crease between two rocks, where a small spout of water flattened out and settled into the run. The fly had barely landed when a head poked above the surface and snatched it. Up went the rod tip to set the hook, and a minute later I unhooked the small wild brook trout and slid it gently back into the water. Within the next ten minutes, almost in the same sequence, the scene twice repeated itself.

As I began to move toward another run, I noticed how badly degraded the stream channel was: lots of muddy sediment piled up in the low-water recesses along the bends in the bank, and long reaches of scoured-out clay, slippery as ice and offering not the least bit of cover. Strange to find wild brook trout in a place this trashed, I murmured to myself; it must be the cold water.

Western Maine, although cursed with miles of gouged-out stream channels, is blessed with abundant groundwater resources. The water in the stream I fished comes right out of the same aquifer that supplies one of Poland Spring’s bottling plants, and throughout Cumberland, Oxford and Franklin counties are scores of other streams with abundant groundwater to cool them in the summer months. No wonder the climate scientists have modeled Western Maine as the last refuge for native brook trout in a “hot,” end-of-century climate change scenario.

My afternoon foray got me thinking about the potential for restoring native brook trout in the region’s streams.  If you ask the fishery scientists about restoring Maine’s brook trout, they’ll gladly point out that restoration is really a secondary concern in a state that still contains more native brook trout habitat than any place in the US.  They’re right, of course, but the habitat they’re referring to is mostly in ponds. What about the streams that still have lots of cold water and are the ecological cornerstone for native wildlife throughout the region?

Maine Audubon is already on the case when it comes to stream restoration. We’ve led the effort to make streams behave like they were supposed to, by working with municipal highway departments to replace non-functioning culverts with StreamSmart road crossings. But there’s a lot more we can do. We’ve worked hard to survey native brook trout waters throughout Maine, and brook trout figure prominently in our new strategic plan, as an iconic species that can help leverage landscape-scale restoration.  We’ll have more to say on this subject, so look to future installments of my blog for further details.

- Charles

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin started at Maine Audubon in 2014. Gauvin brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, much of it as the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading river and fish conservation organization.Gauvin most recently served as Chief Development Officer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. He collaborated with Carnegie scholars worldwide to develop program strategies and support in the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia.

How to see a Little Egret

Posted on: Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Birding has many interesting aspects. Birds offer plenty of exciting opportunities for discovery — from learning to the basics of identification to exploring the migratory timing or even just admiring them from your window. One of the most exciting aspects for me, is finding a rare bird. On June 8, I was lucky enough to find a Little Egret at Gilsland Farm and amazingly the bird is still being seen (over a month later). I’ve been compiling a few tips for anyone who may want to try to see it.

lieg 1

First, here is a little background if you’re wondering what a Little Egret even is.

We have a few regularly occurring species of egrets in Maine: the larger Great Egret (with a yellow bill and black feet) and the smaller Snowy Egret (with a black bill and yellow feet). The Little Egret is the Old World counterpart to our Snowy Egret. Superficially they look very similar, and despite being called “little”, the Little Egret is actually just slightly larger than our Snowy Egret.

Tip 1: Know what to look for.
Telling the Little Egret from a Snowy Egret is difficult if you don’t know what to look for. The most obvious difference will be in the head plumes of the two. Little Egrets (typically) show two long, thin, ribbon-like plumes, while the Snowy Egrets’ plumages tend to be shorter and bushier. David Allen Sibley has a great comparison of this on his blog.

There are other differences but they are more subtle: the lores (the skin between the eye and the bill) are gray on a Little Egret while they are yellow on a Snowy Egret — this is surprisingly easy to see at a distance so it is a good thing to look for if you have a less-than-desirable view. A Little Egret’s bill is also slightly longer and more dagger-like than a Snowy’s (more like a Tricolored Heron). The Little Egret has a slightly lankier appearance, mostly being a little longer necked. Also, the feet on this individual are a greenish-yellow color, unlike the bright golden-yellow we see on our Snowy Egrets.

lieg 2

Tip 2: Know where to go.
When the Little Egret was first found, it was often seen somewhere within a 3.5 mile stretch between Tidewater Farm in Falmouth and Back Cove in Portland. In the last couple weeks, almost all sightings have been in the marshes between the North Meadow at Gilsland Farm and Tidewater Farm in Falmouth. Here are more details on these locations:

Gilsland Farm (Audubon Sanctuary) — almost all sightings from here have been in the North Meadow, which is the first large meadow on your right as you drive into the sanctuary. There is a small lot on the edge of the meadow or plenty of parking space further down near the buildings. I recommend walking the loop around the meadow to reach the “blind” near the marsh. Do this by walking towards the barn and community garden then stay on the trail that wraps behind the solar panels. The blind is about ⅓ of a mile from the road.

Providence Ave. — This road dead ends at the edge of the marsh visible from the North Meadow at Gilsland Farm. It is easier to drive up to but this is private property. So far, I haven’t heard of any upset landowners but I would strongly recommend using the free and public Gilsland Farm rather than risk upsetting the locals.

Tidewater Farm — Just north of Gilsland Farm, this demonstration garden provides access to a section of the marshes not visible from Gilsland Farm. Charles Duncan recently gave a good description on Maine-birds of how to access this site: “from US1 in Falmouth, turn onto Clearwater Drive (near Walmart) and take the first right, onto Farm Gate Rd. There is a small sign that says Tidewater Farm. Continue through the expensive housing development until you see another such sign pointing left on a dirt road. Follow that dirt road a short distance to its end and park in the spaces on the left. Walk between the shed and an abandoned house along a mowed path with a Portland Trails sign. Go out to the end of the path to get the best view.”

Back Cove, Portland — Although there haven’t been any sightings of the Little Egret here recently, there is no reason to think that the bird couldn’t still be going here to feed. Accessibility can be difficult but it is fairly easy to drive Baxter Boulevard and look for egrets feeding in Back Cove. If you see any, park near Payson Park or there is a large parking lot near the south end of Back Cove, both of which are within walking distance.

Presumpscot Street Marsh — This small marsh occasionally has herons and egrets feeding in it and sure enough the Little Egret has been found here as well (although has not been seen here recently). It is a really bizarre location but may be worth checking: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L3718383

lieg map

Tip 3: Know when to go.
I’ve had the most luck by looking for the Little Egret on the incoming tide. At low tide there are extensive mud flats for the bird to be feeding on and therefore a huge area to look. One of the last areas of mud to be covered on the incoming tide is located just off the North Meadow at Gilsland Farm, which is why so many sightings are from there. As the tide comes in, the bird spends most of its time further up in the marsh — beware it can be tough to see amongst the tall grasses. Below is a chart that plots the number of Little Egret sightings (as reported to eBird) from July vs. the stage of the tide at the time of the sighting. As you can see, the majority of sightings are during the low-to-rising tide.

 

lieg tide chart 2

In the chart below, each colored line represents a different sighting and the length of the line represents the duration of the sighting. Again you can see that the majority of sightings are during the low-to-rising tide

lieg tide chart (1)

Put it all together:
My ultimate recommendation for seeing the Little Egret would be to sit at the North Meadow blind shortly after low tide and wait. Be patient. While I’ve watched it, the egret never spends much time in a single location; it is very active and seems to go wherever the most fish are. Just because the egret isn’t off the blind right when you get there, doesn’t mean you should instantly go check all the other locations. Be patient. Let the bird come to you.

-Doug

Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

Submit your question for Doug:

Fall is upon us…

Posted on: Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Although the summer solstice — the “first day of summer” — was on June 21st, to some birds that may have been the first day of Fall. All of the shorebirds we see in Maine are migratory. Some of them migrate to Maine for the winter (Purple Sandpipers) while some come here just to breed (Piping Plovers) and then there are dozens that just migrate through the state between their summer and winter destinations. Quite often there are days in late June that we see shorebirds and wonder if they are the last of the spring migrants or the first of the fall migrants.

Using eBird.org we can look at line graphs showing the frequency of reports fora few of these migratory shorebirds to see when ‘spring’ and ‘fall’ is for these birds. Below is a chart comparing Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers — all shorebirds that migrate through Maine.

eBird’s maps and charts can be a very valuable tool for learning about the occurrence of different species in Maine. Here are some easy step-by-step instructions on how to create one of these charts:

Go to eBird.org and click on the ‘Explore Data’ tab. That should get you here: http://ebird.org/ebird/eBirdReports?cmd=Start

  1. We will choose ‘Line Graphs’ for this exercise, which will get you to this page for selecting the species you want to compare: http://ebird.org/ebird/GuideMe?cmd=quickPick
  2. You can choose up to five species. For this lets use a breeding species (Piping Plover), migratory species (Greater Yellowlegs), and a wintering species (Purple Sandpiper). Just type those names into the ‘select species’ and you may have to choose the proper designation from a drop down list. When those three species are under the “Your selected species list”, click “Continue”.
  3. You should be looking at a beautiful line graph (and bar chart actually) for these three species BUT the default is for the region to be set to all of North America. You’ll want to click on the “Change Location” button under the bar charts and then choose “Maine” and “Entire region” before clicking “Continue” at the bottom of the page.
  4. You can refine the location as much as you’d like. It can be fun to compare counties or even hotspots around the state but not that will be looking at a smaller data set which may not be truly representative of that population.
  5. Compare your chart with the one below. You can also compare to this.
  6. Give yourself a pat on the back, grab your binoculars, and go find a shorebird on its ‘fall’ migration.

eBird compared shorebirds

-Doug

 

Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

Submit your question for Doug:

Less Lawn

Posted on: Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Doug Tallamy speaking at Gilsland Farm. Photo by Doug Hitchcox

Last week, Bringing Nature Home author Doug Tallamy spoke at Maine Audubon. His message was simple and straightforward.  Each of us has an opportunity to improve habitat for wildlife, beginning in the back yard. Tallamy showed how removing non-native and restoring native vegetation can pay huge dividends for wildlife. No one who attended his talk could have been anything other than inspired. I wanted to jump on my tractor and begin waging war on the honeysuckle, barberry and bittersweet that have invaded parts of my farm.

Native animals and plants — as well as the insects that so many animals consume and that play crucial roles as pollinators — evolved together, forming intricate food webs that non-native plants have disrupted. Where habitat is concerned, those food webs really matter. Tallamy showed us some (actually scores of) rather dramatic examples of the differences between the biodiversity present on land with native vegetation and that present where non-native vegetation has become established.

One of Tallamy’s main points can be summarized in two four-letter words: Less Lawn.  Native Maine didn’t have lawn; it had plants that filled the spaces between the big trees in the forest and transition zones that welcomed migrating birds and allowed our terrestrial wildlife to move in accordance with their ancient, seasonal patterns of habitat use for foraging, breeding, and refuge.

Tallamy’s studies show that even modest increases in the native plant cover on suburban properties significantly increase the number and species of breeding birds, including birds of conservation concern.  His marching orders to us were clear:  “As gardeners and stewards of our land, we have never been so empowered to help save biodiversity from extinction, and the need to do so has never been so great. All we need to do is plant native plants!”

Chief among Maine Audubon’s new strategic goals is to increase the number of people who are working for wildlife. If we want to increase the ranks of people who are working for wildlife, there is no better place to begin than in encouraging Maine people to garden for wildlife. Fortunately, one of our most generous donors has given us some working capital to build a program around sustaining wildlife with native plants. So, in the coming months, look for  lot more on this subject from Maine Audubon. In the meantime, think Less Lawn.

-Charles

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin started at Maine Audubon in 2014. Gauvin brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, much of it as the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading river and fish conservation organization.Gauvin most recently served as Chief Development Officer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. He collaborated with Carnegie scholars worldwide to develop program strategies and support in the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia.

The Subadult Twitchers’ 2015 Bird-a-thon Recap

Posted on: Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The 2015 Bird-a-thon is complete! This is the second year of participation by our team, the Sub-adult Twitchers, which formed last year as an attempt to involve a team of [mostly] youth birders. This year we were able to beat our past record but still fell short of our competitors, the Mighty Marsh Muckers.

Below is a summary of our day with a few of the highlights:

 

team-photo-birdathon

The Sub-adult Twitchers, from L to R: Traczie Bellinger, Fyn Kynd, Kyle Lima, Doug Hitchcox

The proper preparation for a Big Day (Bird-a-thon), a day in which you plan to spend 24 hours seeing as many species as possible, is to get as much sleep as possible… we didn’t do that. Instead we led an “Owl Prowl” for the Freeport Birding Festival from 8:00-10:00pm at Maine Audubon’s Mast Landing Sanctuary. This did turn out to be an indicator of how our owling would go during the Bird-a-thon: quiet and owl free.

Owlless, we made it to Biddeford Pool just in time for sunrise and then we were on fire. Shorebirds were roosting along the edges of the pool so we could easily tick them off from the side of the road — efficiency is key during big days. The dawn chorus and newly arrived neotropic migrants kept our tally rising. A quick check of the north end of Biddeford Beach added some seabirds and a surprise pair of Piping Plovers — further north than any known pairs on this beach.

We then went towards Portland to make quick stops at Evergreen Cemetery and Capisic Pond Park to clean up some migrants we missed and also tick some stake-outs like Orchard Oriole and Warbling Vireo. While we were at Evergreen, the Might Marsh Muckers (MMMs) found a Summer Tanager just around the corner from us but we missed it by minutes. We probably spent too long trying to relocate this rarity but we got back on track with a good list for the morning.

Looking for the Little Gull at Pine Point, Scarborough

Looking for the Little Gull at Pine Point, Scarborough

After cleaning up our targets in Scarborough, we pointed north and quickly stopped at Gilsland Farm. While there we got word that the MMMs had found a Little Gull back in Scarborough — at the beach we had just left! This would have been a life bird (a new species) for some of our members so we broke a Big Day ‘rule’ and went back for this rarity. Long story short, we just missed the bird (again) and then wasted a lot of time trying to relocate it. With our route now completely askew, we detoured to ‘The Dairy Corner’ for a much needed ‘Purple Piping Plover’.

Emergency morale boost stop

Emergency morale boost stop

We made some impromptu stops at local hotspots for a few of the species we were missing. As the sun was getting low in the horizon, we made our way towards Kennebunk Plains for the specialty birds that can be found in that unique habitat. Prairie Warblers, Field Sparrows and Upland Sandpipers helped lift our spirits, but the highlight of the day was as probably when we got to observe American Woodcocks and Eastern Whip-poor-wills calling and displaying over the plains as the sun went down.

The wind was the most limiting factor of the day, keeping us from hearing a number of common species. We ended the day with 124 species, a new record for our team! And despite falling short of the MMMs total, I feel like we won in terms of having the most fun.

 

The Sub-adult Twitchers checking off the last few possibilities at Kennebunk Plains

The Sub-adult Twitchers checking off the last few possibilities at Kennebunk Plains

Another fun part of the Bird-a-thon this year was teaming up with a class of middle schoolers from Windham that were doing their own Big Day on Friday, May 22. Their teacher, Ryan Rumsey, introduced his class to birding via Project Feeder Watch, and our collaboration was a huge success! I can’t wait to work with him, his classes and hopefully more schools in the future. Rumsey’s class put together a great video summary of their day:

Thank you very much to everyone who supported our team this year! Your donations help to improve and expand the work Maine Audubon is doing to support wildlife and habitats around the state.

-Doug

Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

Submit your question for Doug:

MEDIA RELEASE: Volunteers Needed for Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center

Posted on: Monday, June 15th, 2015

NEWS RELEASE 

For Immediate Release June 15, 2015
Contact:Linda Woodard

smac@maineaudubon.org
207-883-5100

Volunteers Needed for Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center
Maine Audubon seeks help on a variety of projects in support of Maine’s largest salt marsh 

SCARBOROUGH – Maine Audubon is looking for volunteers ages 14 and up to help with a variety of tasks at the Scarborough Marsh Nature Center.

Depending on their interest and abilities, volunteers could help with:

  • Citizen Science Projects -  Participate in bird monitoring in July and August.  This can be done by foot, canoe or kayak. A Biodiversity Day in July will inventory all insects and plants in the marsh.  These monitoring projects document what species live in the marsh and note any changes over time. This provides a picture of the health of the marsh. All experience levels welcome.
  • The Nature Store – Use the register, organize store merchandise, answer phone calls, greet visitors and assist with canoe rentals.
  • Canoe Rentals – Process paperwork, explain directions and safety, hand out lifejackets and paddles, move boats on and off storage racks and assist visitors in and out of boats.
  • The Nature Center – Lead groups of all ages on explorations through the marsh. Lead walks, discuss animal mounts, maintain interactive exhibits, greet visitors and answer questions.
  • Buildings/Grounds Maintenance – Carry out carpentry and landscaping projects, maintain walking trails and boardwalks, paint, etc.

In addition, the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center requires volunteers for special events, such as Snowy Egret Day and special projects, such as picking up returnables to raise money for the center.

If you are interested in helping out at the marsh, there is likely a project that fits your expertise!

No experience is necessary and the time commitment can be fit to the volunteer’s schedule. Training will be provided.

To learn more about volunteering, contact: Linda Woodard 207-883-5100 or smac@maineaudubon.org.

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About Maine Audubon About Maine Audubon Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 20,000 members and 2,000 volunteers. Conserving Maine’s wildlife. Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information. Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

Of Birds and Brookies

Posted on: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

charlestroutTwo weeks ago, Maine Audubon trustee Sandy Buck and I took a short trip into the woods north of Baxter Park.  We wanted to check in on Maine’s forest songbirds and brook trout, and we wanted to do that in a place that is as close to an undisturbed habitat as can be found anywhere in Maine.

So we went to Reed Pond, a 5,000-acre Nature Conservancy preserve that is the largest stand of old growth timber in Maine. It was a spectacular setting. We began our visit with a bird walk under the direction of Maine Audubon staff naturalist Doug Hitchcox. Doug saw twice as many bird species as he had expected to see. At one point, he called in six or seven different species and had them swirling around us!

Reed has a native brook trout population and is one of the last places where you can find arctic char (aka “blueback” trout).  Both fish have recently been restored to the pond, which had become infested with non-native rainbow smelt, and appear to be thriving once again.

Protecting forest songbirds and protecting native brook trout are key priorities for Maine Audubon. Personally, I’ve always been focused mostly on the trout that inhabit the waters of the Maine Woods, but now, thanks to my recent experience at Reed Pond, I understand as well the role our forests play as song bird habitat. Where else can you experience healthy populations of birds and brookies — as well as moose, loons and lynx?  No wonder Maine is the East’s last, best place!

- Charles

P.S., Beginning later this year, Maine Audubon will be offering some of its most loyal friends, who have joined as members of the new Maine Audubon Wildlife Stewardship Council, a chance to participate in a special birds and brookies trip to the Maine Woods. Information on the Wildlife Stewardship Council will appear soon on the Maine Audubon website. In the meantime, if you have questions about it or about my recent trip, send me an email message at cgauvin@maineaudubon.org.

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin started at Maine Audubon in 2014. Gauvin brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, much of it as the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading river and fish conservation organization.Gauvin most recently served as Chief Development Officer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. He collaborated with Carnegie scholars worldwide to develop program strategies and support in the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon Celebrates Members at Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social

Posted on: Monday, June 1st, 2015

NEWS RELEASE Peony and Boy

For Immediate Release June 1, 2015
Contact: Agata Ketterick, Membership Manager

aketterick@maineaudubon.org (207) 781-2330 x232

Maine Audubon Celebrates Members at Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social

Maine Audubon will hold their annual Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social on Tuesday, June 16, from 5 to 7 pm. The annual celebration recognizes the organization’s Peony Circle of Friends, dedicated members, donors and volunteers who have supported Maine Audubon with their time, energy and contributions for over twenty years.

The event will take place at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth (20 Gilsland Farm Road). Enjoy homemade ice cream donated by Toots Ice Cream (North Yarmouth) and live music from the students of 317 Main (Yarmouth).

Become a Maine Audubon member that evening and receive special discounts and a free peony flower.The event also features a children’s peony craft workshop – bring the whole family!

To learn more, please visit http://maineaudubon.org/events/peony-bloom-ice-cream-social/ or contact Agata Ketterick, Membership Manager, at aketterick@maineaudubon.org or call (207) 781-2330 x232.

Why are the peonies at Gilsland Farm so special?

David Edward Moulton (1871-1951), a prominent attorney and founder of the Portland Water District, acquired the property that was to become Gilsland Farm in 1911. His love of horticulture led him to plant many varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers on the property, but it was the peony that truly fascinated him.

By 1928, he had collected more than 200 varieties planted over four acres – reputedly one of the most complete peony collections in the country. So famous were Moulton’s flowers that individual peony roots sold for as much as $250. The Portland paper called Gilsland Farm “a show garden of peonies – wonder place of Portland.”

Though David Moulton’s fields of cultivated peonies no long exist, visitors to Gilsland Farm will find remnants of his collection blooming in the meadows and along the woodland edges every June. A cultivated formal peony garden next to the Education Center showcases the beautiful blooms that most likely bloomed during his time at the farm.

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About Maine Audubon

Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 20,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife. 

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information. Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

Snowy Egret 5K 2015 Race Results

Posted on: Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
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Thanks to everyone who came out to run or walk at one of the most scenic and special places in Maine and support the Scarborough Marsh – the Audubon Center and the Eastern Trail Alliance. The overall female winner was Zoe Goodwin, 18, of Standish. The overall male winner was Aaron Chelate, 33, of Saco.

A list of winners by age group is here, and a lit of the winning teams and times is here.

For a complete list of finishers and their times, click here.

 

Reflections on Warbler Walks

Posted on: Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Each weekday morning from May 5th through the 15th, I had the pleasure of leading free walks at Evergreen Cemetery and Capisic Pond Park in Portland. In 10 days we saw 99 species, plus one other taxa (American Black Duck x Mallard hybrid). A complete list of these species is located at the end of this post but I did want to reflect on a few of the highlights:

Least Bittern

On the Saturday after our first walk in Capisic Pond Park, a Least Bittern was spotted there. As a guide, I cringed at the thought that the bird could have been around during our walk on Friday and we missed it. Least Bitterns are listed as endangered in Maine because of their low numbers and very limited breeding range, so the sighting would be a real showstopper for the walk. Many birders searched for the Least Bittern over the following days to no avail. Then finally, on our last walk, (Friday, the 15th), I just happened to pause and scan the cattails and there it was! What a way to end our warbler walks!

LEBI - by Sandra Mitchell Photo by Sandra Mitchell

 

Red Crossbill (Type 10)

For almost a month now, a flock of 8-15 Red Crossbills has been reported at Evergreen Cemetery. We lucked into them on two of the days we were there. They were always foraging in the tamarack trees on the west end of the large pond. Without getting too detailed here, you should know there are 10 distinct ‘types’ of Red Crossbills, some of which may be unique species. You can read much more on this in Matt Young’s article. To make a long story short, I was able to get a good recording of the flight calls of this flock and Matt was able to identify them as Type 10. This is the expected type for Maine but it is nice to verify.

RECR

Overall Summary

This was an interesting couple of weeks for warblers. Except for two cooler mornings, we had warm and beautiful days. Although the warmth is nice for birders, it doesn’t contribute to the ‘fallout’ conditions that we all like. The winds were also less than favorable for producing large numbers of birds. Overall, diversity was near average but it did seem like a slow start. That said, we are still in the peak of it! If you feel like you missed the opportunity to see these birds, than fear not, the best may be yet to come! Over the weekend, I finally picked up my first Blackburnian Warbler of the year and I heard reports of two Cape May Warblers at Evergreen on May 18th.

Bird-a-thon: Gilsland Farm team needs your help!

This Saturday, as part of the L.L.Bean Freeport Festival, Maine Audubon is holding its annual Bird-a-thon. This is a 24-hour event where teams of birders travel anywhere in the state to see as many species of birds as possible. Please consider donating to my team, the “Sub-adult Twitchers”, because the funds we raise go directly towards programming like these spring Warbler Walks and the free Naturalist Forum talks every month. I’ve put together a team of mostly youth birders (some of us want to feel young, but last year I learned that having multiple drivers on your team is very helpful). Please consider donating to our team at: https://www.crowdrise.com/bigday2015/

Complete Species List:

  • Canada Goose
  • Wood Duck
  • American Black Duck
  • Mallard
  • American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Common Loon
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Least Bittern
  • Green Heron
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Bald Eagle
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Virginia Rail
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Herring Gull
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • Black-billed Cuckoo
  • Chimney Swift
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Least Flycatcher
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Tree Swallow
  • Bank Swallow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • House Wren
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Veery
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Wood Thrush
  • American Robin
  • Gray Catbird
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Ovenbird
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Palm Warbler
  • Pine Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Prairie Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Canada Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • House Finch
  • Purple Finch
  • Red Crossbill
  • Pine Siskin
  • American Goldfinch

-Doug

Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

Submit your question for Doug: