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Greg Miller Big Year Series: MAINE: Mountains & Coast

Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffin

On this tour we will travel to the sandy beaches, salt marshes, and grasslands of southwestern Maine, visit the White Mountains in New Hampshire, see some of what Vermonters call “The Northern Kingdom”, bird the corners of Maine from the far Northwest to the extreme Southeast. A boat trip to see puffins will be spectacular! We’ll get to a chance to eat lobster rolls, lobster bisque, and cooked lobster. And there will be opportunity for all things blueberry—like muffins, scones, pancakes, and pie.

We’ll see lighthouses, rugged, rocky shores, dense spruce forest, bogs, and blueberry barrens. We might even see moose! And the birdlife will be diverse. Species could include Common Eider, Black Guillemot, all three scoters (Black, White-winged, and Surf), Piping Plover, Upland Sandpiper, Arctic and Roseate Tern, Alder, Yellow-bellied, and Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-billed Cuckoo, 27 species of warbler possible including Mourning and Canada, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse, Gray Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, Razorbill, Common Murre, and Atlantic Puffin!

This is an adventurous trip to some remote habitats with tremendous scenery and fabulous birds. You’ll want to come back and spend more time. But this tour should whet your appetite!

Singing Chestnut-sided Warbler

Singing Chestnut-sided Warbler

  • Tour Cost
  • Number of Days (Length of Tour)

    7 days / 6 nights

     

    Cost

    $1750.00 per person, based upon double occupancy from Bangor, ME.

     

    Single Supplement

    If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to get a roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $300.00 will be assessed.

     

    What is Included / Not Included in the Cost

    Included in the cost are all accommodations, transportation, entrance fees and permits.

    Participants will be responsible for purchasing their own meals and making their flight arrangements.

     

    Deposit

    $500.00, check, paypal or credit card, along with your completed Wildside Nature Tours Client Information Form.

     

    How to Book

    In order to hold your space, you must complete the Wildside Nature Tours Registration Form found on-line, and submit it to us on-line, or download a copy and mail it to us, along with a $500.00 deposit per participant.

     

    Final Payment

    The balance due or full payment, by check, is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

  • Itinerary
  • Brief Itinerary

    Day 1: Arrivals at Bangor International Airport in Bangor, ME (BGR)

    Day 2: Messalonske Lake, ME; Seawall Beach, ME; Simpson Point Landing, ME

    Day 3: Kennebunk Plains, ME; Scarborough Marsh, ME; Brownfield Bog, ME; Pondicherry NWR, NH

    Day 4: Moose Bog, VT; Kennebago River, ME

    Day 5: Franklin County, ME; transfer to Down East Maine

    Day 6: Machias Seal Island, ME; West Quoddy Head SP, ME; Columbia Blueberry Barrens, ME

    Day 7: Departures from Bangor International Airport in Bangor, ME (BGR)

     

    Full Itinerary

     

    Day 1 ~ Arrival at Bangor International Airport in Bangor, ME (BGR)

    Arrival at Bangor International Airport in Bangor, ME. Orientation at dinner. Night in Bangor, ME.

     

    Day 2 ~ Messalonske Lake, ME; Seawall Beach, ME; Simpson Point Landing, ME 

    Our first stop will be along the highway at the location of Maine’s only breeding colony of Black Terns. Some birds that could be seen here are Common Loon, American Black Duck, Wood Duck, American Bittern, Sandhill Crane, Virginia Rail, Bank Swallow, Purple Martin, and Wild Turkey.

     

    Our next stop will be the coast near Phippsburg, ME. Here we’ll find Common Eiders and Black Guillemots. All three scoters have occurred here. Although unlikely, we will certainly welcome a late sighting of Long-tailed Duck or Great Cormorant or Purple Sandpiper. In addition to the Common Terns, both Arctic and Roseate Terns can be seen here. Shorebirds can be decent here, too, with nearly 20 species possible including Piping Plover.

     

    We will stop at Simpson Point Landing, ME on our way south and west. This is a better spot to find lingering Long-tailed Ducks and we’ll have a shot at Greater Scaup and all 3 scoters again. Night near Portland, ME.

     

    Day 3 ~ Kennebunk Plains, ME; Scarborough Marsh, ME; Brownfield Bog, ME; Pondicherry NWR, NH 

    Our first stop will be the blueberry barrens and grasslands at Kennebunk Plains, ME. Our targets here include Upland Sandpiper and Bobolink. It’s a great location for a few sparrows we are unlikely to find elsewhere on our tour including Grasshopper, Savannah, and Vesper Sparrows. Clay-colored Sparrow is also possible.

     

    Next on the agenda is Scarborough Marsh, ME. It may be the best place in the U.S. to find both Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows together in one marsh. And those species will be our top priorities. Least Tern can be seen here as well as Tricolored Heron and Glossy Ibis. Rarities sometimes show up. In the summers of 2011 & 2012 a Little Egret delighted birders here! More than 150 species of birds have been recorded from this marsh in June in eBird. One could easily spend a day here, but we will not.

     

    Any birder may be filled with eager anticipation as we begin our journey north toward the areas near the Canadian border. And our next birding locale just happens to be a bog—Brownfield Bog. It is located at the southeast edge of the White Mountains. Wilson’s Snipe and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are here. In June. Cool. Many of us only get to see these birds in winter or migration. Both cuckoos (Yellow-billed and Black-billed) are here, too. And 8 species of flycatchers have been reported here in June. Although none of the following are common, we will have our first opportunity to look for birds like Black-backed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Philadelphia Vireo. And 17 species of warblers (only about 6 are common). Yep. Welcome to the wonder that are the bogs!

     

    Our journey north continues through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On the northeast edge of these mountains lies Pondicherry NWR. Say “hello” to the possibility of seeing Ruffed Grouse. Broad-winged Hawks are present here all summer. No more Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Cuckoos are all now Black-billed Cuckoos. Although uncommon anywhere, Black-backed Woodpecker is now more probable than Brownfield Bog. Add Olive-sided Flycatcher into the flycatcher mix (now up to 9 species possible). Winter Wrens are here and Boreal Chickadee is now at least a tiny possibility. And maybe Lincoln’s Sparrow or Dark-eyed Junco. What about the warblers? 22 species have been recorded here in June (12-15 species is a reasonable number to target). Night near Lancaster, NH.

     

    Day 4 ~ Moose Bog, VT; Kennebago River, ME 

    This morning we are headed to another bog—in Vermont! This area of northern Vermont is affectionately known to local Vermonters as the Northern Kingdom. I like that title. This is a remote area with fantastic habitat and equally fantastic birding possibilities. Ruffed Grouse are rare here. If you see grouse here, you should look carefully. Spruce Grouse is more probable here than Ruffed Grouse. It is a nemesis species for many birders. Even where this bird is common, it can be very easy to miss. I am mildly optimistic about our chances today. This should be our best shot at a number of harder-to-find goodies besides the grouse including Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Ok. The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher might not be so hard to find. Alder Flycatcher, Brown Creeper, Canada Warbler, and Winter Wren are all to be searched for, too.

     

    Next we’ll drive back east across New Hampshire to the far northwestern corner of Maine. Boy Scout Road near the Kennebago River will give us another chance to see more northern species. Although this is just as far north as Moose Bog, the habitat is a little different. Now the predominant grouse will be Ruffed Grouse. There is little chance for Spruce Grouse where we’ll be. This area will be better for Gray Jay and Olive-sided Flycatcher than Moose Bog. Boreal Chickadee is still a reasonable target. So why come here? I said more northern species. I did not say “the same ones”. The allure? Maybe the 21 species of warblers, eh? Night near Rangely, ME.

     

    Day 5 ~ Franklin County, ME; transfer to Down East Maine

    This morning we’ll have some time to search for anything that may still be missing. If we haven’t seen Mourning Warbler by now, we’ll search out so specific habitat that is good for this species. The rest of the day will be spent birding along the way to Down East Maine to the town of Machias. Night near Machias, ME.

     

    Day 6 ~ Machias Seal Island, ME; West Quoddy Head SP, ME; Columbia Blueberry Barrens, ME

    This morning will be an early start to get to Cutler, ME for the boat trip to Machias Seal Island. This little island is host to the largest breeding colony of Atlantic Puffins in the U.S. The actual trip to the island is about one hour each way. There is a slight possibility of seeing several pelagic species like Manx Shearwater (rare), Parasitic Jaeger (rare), Leach’s Storm-Petrel (rare), Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (uncommon), Sooty Shearwater (rare), Great Shearwater (rare), Northern Fulmar (rare), and Red-necked Phalarope (rare). At or near the island we may encounter Northern Gannet and/or Great Cormorant. On the island will be the breeding birds: Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Common and Arctic Tern. Canada and the United States share this island so access to get onto the island is not guaranteed as I write this itinerary. If it is our day, we will be able to walk onto the island and use the blinds while we are there. If we cannot get onto the island physically, we will still be able to board a skiff and boat around the waters of the island in close proximity. All of this is, of course, weather permitting. If you have never done this boat trip it is quite the experience! You might have puffins at arm’s reach! It is amazing!

     

    We’ll return to the mainland in the afternoon. We’ll drive out to West Quoddy Head State Park. This is the easternmost point in the United States and has one of most iconic lighthouses. It is one of the spots along the coast most likely to have lingering Great Cormorants which spend the entire winter here. We’ll spend the rest of the afternoon birding our way back to Bangor hanging close to the coast as we go. Night in Bangor, ME.

     

    Day 7 ~ Departures from Bangor International Airport in Bangor, ME (BGR)

    Alas! The last day is here already. Departures from Bangor International Airport in Bangor, ME (BGR).