After the cancellation of the trip in 2020, Maine Audubon and friends were excited to return to Merrymeeting Bay on Sept 18 to engage in the 52nd Bald Eagles of Merrymeeting Bay trip. The trip first began in 1969, when members of Maine Audubon ventured up the Kennebec River and around Swan Island, hoping to find the endangered Bald Eagle whose population had seen a decline after years of DDT use. That year the group identified a single bird; the trip was considered a success and has been running annually ever since.
Our morning began at 8 am sharp with foggy and overcast skies, and as the boat pulled away from the dock, eager birders immediately began identifying gulls, ducks, and herons that were resting in the bay. As the ride continued, conditions became a little clearer yet still misty, making it ideal for spotting eagles perched high in evergreen branches. Some juvenile eagles were seen as well, differentiated from older birds by their dark feathers. Mature eagles develop their “baldness” around 5 years of age. Before that, younger birds will progress through various states of white mottling and patchiness throughout their bodies. The final tally of bald eagles (both juveniles and adults) came to 44 by the end of the trip. Throughout our ride we were also pleased to find kingfishers, cormorants, multiple species of shorebirds, and two harbor seals!
Species counts are raw numbers from the collective eBird lists and may represent double-counted individuals. See the segmented checklists, linked below, for more details on each species.
|American Black Duck||6|
|Great Black-backed Gull||15|
|Great Blue Heron||15|
Bald Eagles of Merrymeeting Bay – 2021 – Section I : https://ebird.org/me/checklist/S95059649
Bald Eagles of Merrymeeting Bay – 2021 – Section II: https://ebird.org/me/checklist/S95059647
Bald Eagles of Merrymeeting Bay – 2021 Section III: https://ebird.org/me/checklist/S95059651
A big thank you to everyone who joined the trip this year for continuing to make this a highlight of Maine Audubon’s calendar. Thanks, too, to Cap’n Fish’s Boothbay Boat Trips for their excellent boat and navigation, and to eagle-eyed eagle-spotters Linda Woodard, Turk Duddy, and other incredible volunteers for helping count all the birds we saw. Maine Audubon looks forward to running the Bar Harbor Pelagic Trip on Oct 16, where we can expect to see sightings of seabirds and marine mammals! To read more about this event and register visit here: https://maineaudubon.org/news/events/bar-harbor-pelagic-trip-oct21/
Photo by Doug Hitchcox