Tag Archives: Feathers Over Freeport

Birdwatching in Maine: A Site Guide (Coming soon!)

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I am most pleased to finally announce that my next book “Birdwatching in Maine: A Site Guide” will be out shortly. I’ve been working on it for over three years now, but of course, all of my birding in Maine for the past 13 years has gone into the development of its concept and content. I sincerely hope you will be pleased with the final product, as I believe it will be an essential asset for birding in the great state of Maine.

With nearly 450 species of birds recorded, Maine offers an abundance of birding opportunities for people of all levels of interest and experience, from those looking beyond their backyards for the first time to knowledgeable visitors looking to plug a hole in their list of sightings. The state’s wealth of undeveloped land and its extensive coastline, countless islands, and varied habitat combine to host an impressive diversity of birds at all times of year. Birders travel to Maine from near and far to seek hard-to-find species, from the only Atlantic Puffins breeding in the United States on offshore islands to Bicknell’s Thrushes high in the mountains.

This book fills an important niche for the birdwatching community by offering comprehensive entries detailing the best locations for finding birds throughout the state for enthusiasts of all levels of skill and interest. It contains descriptions of 201 birding sites in Maine, with explicit directions on how to get there, for all sixteen of the state’s counties (several as large as other New England states!). Each chapter features a county map, my brief overview, numerous specific site guides, and a list of rarities. The book also contains a detailed and useful species accounts guide for finding the most sought-after birds.

Using a county-by-county approach, with chapters by Seth Benz, John Berry, Kirk Betts, Ron Joseph, Kristen Lindquist, Rich MacDonald, Dan Nickerson, Luke Seitz, Allison and Jeff Wells, and Herb Wilson, Derek tapped the knowledge of local experts to offer the most comprehensive and authoritative birdfinding guide the state has seen. And I guarantee there will be many sites completely new to you!

The Official Release Party will be at Blue in Portland (650 Congress St) from 5-7pm on Thursday, April 20th. This will be the first time the book will be available, anywhere.

We’ll also be offering a presentation, full of photos of Maine’s birds and birding places, on Saturday, April 29th at the Freeport Public Library at 7:00pm. This too is a free event, open to the public, and part of the annual “Feathers Over Freeport: A Birdwatching Weekend” events.

For more information about the Blue event, click here.

And for Feathers Over Freeport, click here.

We’re currently taking pre-orders online via our eStore.

Other free events around the state are being scheduled. You can check them out via Facebook on the page of “Birding Books by Derek J. Lovitch.”

Book release Blue

2015 Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch Season in Review

The 2015 Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch, co-sponsored by Freeport Wild Bird Supply and Leica Sport Optics, came to its conclusion on May 15th. This season was an interesting one, especially in how the weather affected our counts. During the 2-month period, the Official Hawkcounter, Andrew Wolfgang, tallied a total of 3628 raptors. This included vultures, hawks, eagles, and falcons. Over the 8-year span that we have conducted this standardized count, this year was the second lowest, coming in 12% below average.

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Welcome to spring hawkwatching in Maine, Andrew!

However, a single year’s count tells us little beyond what the weather conditions were like during the course of the season. The late arrival of spring was actually a benefit to the count at the start, as few early migrants had progressed north by March 15th. Therefore, we had very good counts of our earliest migrants: Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks, and Turkey Vultures. In fact, we set a new record for eagles deemed migrating, and vultures produced our second highest tally of all time. We simply didn’t “miss” any of these migrants before the project got underway.
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Bald Eagles set a new all-time record this season.

However, as the season progressed, spring still didn’t seem to arrive. Lots of unfavorable (for viewing birds at Bradbury Mountain) winds meant that viewing migrating hawks past this mountain was not optimal. Strong and cold west winds, for example, push birds towards the coast beyond our view, while persistent easterlies seem to shunt birds inland before they reach the northern terminus of the coastal plain. Simply put, the poor conditions during the peak of our migration period in mid to late April really lowered the overall numbers and it’s those couple of weeks that can really make or break the overall count for the season. Therefore, the below-average numbers of our two most abundant migrants (Broad-winged Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk) combined to yield a below-average season total.

However, we had some great birds once again, highlight by our 4th record of a Golden Eagle.
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Andrew also recorded a new record of 3 Rough-legged Hawks, no doubt due to the late onset of the spring’s flight (most Rough-legs probably move north before the start of the count in most years).

Meanwhile, a total of 85 species were recorded, including an ever-increasing number of Sandhill Cranes. This year a total of 11 migrant cranes were recorded. Other highlights included frequent visits by Bohemian Waxwings to the summit for much of the first half of the count, both Red and White-winged Crossbills. Fox Sparrow was recorded at the summit for the first time as well (two dates).

But, this hawkwatch is not just about the numbers. We also work hard to educate visitors to the park, both birders and non-birders. Every year we expose more and more people to the world of hawkwatching and bird migration in general. Bradbury Mountain is just one of many hawk migration sites throughout the continent. The data we collect becomes part of this vast network allowing researchers to determine population and geographical trends in particular species. So, even though our numbers this year were low relative to past seasons, it becomes no small part of building this data set. 1174 visitors were recorded at the hawkwatch (tabulated as coming specifically for the hawkwatch or spending time chatting with the counter), plus many hundreds more who at least briefly read the sign or asked a question or two. This was slightly below average, but likely due to the cool conditions for most of the season.
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There are few public projects where scientific data collection so effectively goes hand-in-hand with public outreach and education. With the growth of regular hawkwatch visitor volunteers, and especially the growth of the “Feather Over Freeport: A Birdwatching Weekend” festival, we look forward to many more years of introducing people to hawkwatching and hawk research and conservation.

Season Totals:
Turkey Vulture 374
Osprey 382
Bald Eagle 102*
Northern Harrier 101
Sharp-shinned Hawk 610
Cooper’s Hawk 85
Northern Goshawk 4
Red-shouldered Hawk 104
Broad-winged Hawk 1190
Red-tailed Hawk 236
Rough-legged Hawk 3*
Golden Eagle 1
American Kestrel 307
Merlin 75
Peregrine Falcon 8
Unidentified Hawk 46

Total 3628

*Denotes new season record

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Peregrine Falcons just eclipsed our annual average this year; most migrants in this area stick closer to the coast.

Our ninth Spring Hawkwatch kicks off again on March 15th, 2016! We invite everyone, whether seasoned veteran hawkwatchers or casual nature enthusiast, to join our professional biologist and naturalist at the summit once again.

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Ospreys are a fan favorite at the hawkwatch.

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It was quite a change in climate and the color of the scenery since the start of the count!

Feathers Over Freeport This Weekend! April 25-26, 2015

“Feathers over Freeport” Offers Birding Fun for All Ages

AUGUSTA – The fifth annual “Feathers over Freeport” event will take place the last weekend in April. This unique event is designed to appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities, especially families and children.

“Feathers over Freeport” will highlight special birding opportunities at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, including the Hawk Watch at the summit, and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport, home to nesting ospreys.

Sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands  and the Freeport Wild Bird Supply, the two-day event will feature a wide variety of activities and presentations, including live-bird presentations, bird walks for adults and children, a hawk watch workshop and numerous children’s activities.

Details of the event are:

Feathers over Freeport:

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 25, Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal

8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 26, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport

Park entry fees apply; all programs and activities included with park admission.

Two special programs will highlight the event, including a live bird presentation on birds of prey, scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday, April 25, at Bradbury Mountain and a live birds presentation scheduled for 1 p.m., Sunday, April 26, at Wolfe’s Neck. The programs, presented by Hope Douglas of Wind Over Wings, will feature a Golden Eagle on Saturday, and a Saw-whet and Great Horned owl on Sunday, as well as other live birds.

New this year, “Bird Watching for Beginners” will be held on Sunday at Wolfe’s Neck Woods. This is a great program for beginners of all ages! Join us to learn the best places to observe birds and the basics of identification. Other programs this year include a Vernal Pool Exploration and Hawk Watch Workshop on Saturday, and a Springtime Plant Walk on Sunday. Bird-related activities geared toward children and families will be offered both days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. where birding basics will be presented through games, crafts, and hands-on activities. Children accompanied by an adult are welcome to come and build a birdhouse. These are available on a first come, first served basis and supplies are limited.

And look for details of a Photography Workshop with Jeff Bouton of Leica Sport Optics to be added to the schedule in the next day or two.

Event partners are the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry- Bureau of Parks and Lands and the Freeport Wild Bird Supply. Sponsors include: Ben & Jerry’s, Birds & Beans, Bow Street Market, Freeport Conservation Trust, Leica, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

For more information, including the complete schedule of events, please click here.

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So you know where I’ll be this weekend! I’ll be leading the birdwalks on Saturday and Sunday mornings, along with Jeannette and Jeff Bouton of Leica. Jeff and I will be leading the hawkwatch workshop on Saturday as well, and I’ll be helping out on various walks throughout the weekend.

This is a great event, with so many things to do for folks of all ages. I look forward to seeing you at the parks this weekend!

Feathers Over Freeport!

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Looking for an excuse to get outside and learn something about birds and migration? Ever wonder how you or your kids can get started with this wonderful pastime? What about learning about the things that live in the woods that don’t have feathers – from flowers to frogs?

No matter what your interests are, or what your level of birding experience is, then we have just the event for you! Join us on the last weekend of April (every year!) for “Feathers Over Freeport: A Birdwatching Weekend!”

With events all day, Saturday April 26th at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal and all day Sunday, April 27th at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport is the event for the whole family. It started four years ago as a way to introduce people to birding and gain an appreciation for the feathered life around us. It is not meant to be a “birding festival” per se, but a way get people excited about birds – the first step.

Events begin each day with my morning birdwalks – 8:00am on Saturday at Bradbury and 8:00am on Sunday at Wolfe’s Neck. Bird migration is just beginning to kick into high gear in late April, so it is a fun time to begin learning some of those early migrants without getting too overwhelmed.

The timing of the weekend also perfectly coincides with the Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch’s peak. My hawkwatching workshop will teach visitors how to identify the 15+ species of hawks that pass by this mountain every spring.

And, speaking of hawks, the Osprey pair at Wolfe’s Neck is back on nest, providing a great opportunity to view these awesome birds and learn a little about their biology. As in past years, both parks with be hosting programs by Hope Douglas from Wind Over Wings. See live birds of prey up close and personal, including a Golden Eagle!

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Feathers Over Freeport is also the State’s official Pledge 2 Fledge event. This is an international effort to get people who already have an interest in birds to share that with someone new. The children’s activities and workshops during this weekend help us work towards that goal.

For a complete listing of all of the weekend’s events, visit the Feathers Over Freeport webpage. Hope to see you there!

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