Orange Audubon Society Partnership Tour

Orange Audubon Society Maine Birding Adventure (PRIVATE TOUR)

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TOUR FOCUS
BIRDS & WILDLIFE

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SCHEDULED TOURS

2022 :: June 15 - June 22

TRIP LEADERS

TOUR COST

From: $2,450 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Portland, Maine (PWM)

GROUP SIZE

6 - 10 Participants

AVAILABILITY

2022: 10 spaces available

PRIVATE TOUR OPTION

This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of Orange Audubon Society Maine Birding Adventure (PRIVATE TOUR)

  • Open to Orange Audubon Society members & friends ONLY
  • Beautiful New England coastline & vast boreal forests
  • Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, & other seabirds up-close!
  • Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse, & Bicknell’s Thrush
  • 20+ warbler species & other classic eastern songbirds
  • Grand loop through Maine, Vermont, & New Hampshire!

Description of Orange Audubon Society Maine Birding Adventure (PRIVATE TOUR)

Wildside is excited to organize and lead our grand tour through Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire specially designed for Orange County Audubon members in 2022! To kick off this busy week of New England birding we will enjoy a half-day boat trip on the Gulf of Maine to visit Seal Island, home to thousands of nesting seabirds including the largest US colony of Atlantic Puffins and Great Cormorants. The island also hosts Razorbill, Black Guillemot, and the ever vigilant flock of hundreds of Common Terns and Arctic Terns! A careful look may turn up a rare Roseate Tern. The surrounding waters sometimes hold a lingering Northern Gannet or Sooty Shearwater – so keep your eyes peeled! Harbor Seal and Gray Seal can be seen hauled out on the rocky shorelines. We may even have the chance to see a vagrant Red-billed Tropicbird known affectionately as “Troppy” who has returned to this island for over 15 years! After spending the day on the water, we’ll settle down for a dinner of lobster rolls, lobster bisque, or cooked lobster! This is Maine after all!

Maine’s rugged coast is broken up by short stretches of sandy beaches; picturesque lighthouses stand proudly on seaside cliffs. Venturing into the Northwoods we’ll pass through vast deciduous woodlands interspersed with dense spruce forests and dark old-growth bogs. These incredible forests are the great songbird nurseries of eastern North America. We might even see a Moose or two!

Classic New England specialties on our target list include Common Eider, American Black Duck, all three scoters, Piping Plover, Upland Sandpiper, Nelson’s Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Bobolink, Canada Jay, both Yellow- and Black-billed Cuckoos, and the elusive Black-backed Woodpecker! Tough-to-find Boreal Chickadee and Spruce Grouse are top targets during our time in the dense boreal forests near the Canadian border. A visit high into the subalpine zone of Mount Washington will allow us easy access to the very range-restricted Bicknell’s Thrush which is endemic to New England’s high peaks. American Pipit, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Winter Wren, and Blackpoll Warbler are possible on Mount Washington as well. The Northwoods provide a home to an amazing diversity of eastern songbirds, and 20 species of warbler are possible including Mourning, Blackburnian, and Canada!

Length of Tour

8-Days/7-Nights

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals at Portland Int. Jetport in Portland, ME (PWM). Birding around Portland and traveling up the coast toward Rockport and Camden. Night in Camden.

Day 2 – Seabirding boat trip to Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. Afternoon birding hotspots in route to Portland. Night in Portland.

Day 3 – Portland hotspots and Scarborough Marsh. Night in Portland.

Day 4 – Kennebunk Plains then north to Brownfield Bog and Pinkham Notch. Night in Jackson, NH.

Day 5 – Mount Washington auto road to summit, Pondicherry NWR. Night in Lancaster.

Day 6 – Moose Bog and other Northwoods hotspots. Night in Lancaster.

Day 7 – Dixville Notch, Moose Alley, & Rangeley area hotspots. Night in Augusta.

Day 8 – Morning birding around Portland as time allows. Departures from Portland Int. Jetport in Portland, ME (PWM) no earlier than noon.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals at Portland Int. Jetport in Portland, ME (PWM). Birding around Portland and traveling up the coast toward Rockport and Camden. Night in Camden.

After collecting everyone from the airport, we will make a series of birding stops along the coast to get everyone acquainted with the region as we travel east through quant seaside towns to Camden. Night in Camden.

Day 2 – Seabirding boat trip to Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. Afternoon birding hotspots in route to Portland. Night in Portland.

We are kicking off this tour with a boat trip to the seabird colony at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. In the early morning we will set out onto the massive Gulf of Maine – a 36,000 square mile region that provided the former haunts to the now-extinct Sea Mink and Great Auk! Today the Gulf of Maine remains a healthy ecosystem with a prosperous fishing community, and rare animals like Northern Right Whale and the charismatic Atlantic Puffin continue to inhabit the deep underwater canyons and rocky islands. In fact, the puffins are what this whole boat trip is about! Seal Island is a tiny, 10-acre rock that is host to one of the largest breeding colonies of Atlantic Puffins and Great Cormorants in the United States!

During the boat trip there is a possibility of seeing several rare pelagic species like Manx Shearwater, Parasitic Jaeger, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Northern Gannet, and Red-necked Phalarope! Various gulls and terns, Common Eiders, all 3 scoter species, and Black Guillemot can be abundant. Close views of the island and surrounding waters should produce excellent views of Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, and both Common and Arctic Terns! Peregrine Falcon may strafe the island in search of a winged meal, while both Gray and Harbor Seals loaf on the rocky shorelines. Once back ashore, we will head back south to Portland and celebrate the puffins over dinner downtown. Night in Portland.

Day 3 – Portland hotspots and Scarborough Marsh. Night in Portland.

We’ll kick off the third day starting at Presumpscot Bay just north of Portland, where one or more rare Little Egrets have returned for many years. Little Egret are the European equivalent to our Snowy Egret, and are very similar in appearance but a close study of their head plumes and facial skin color is required to confirm the ID. Snowy has a short, fluffy crest while Little Egrets have two long, whip-like plumes. Other destinations will include Tidewater Farm and Gilsland Farm Audubon Center. Classic species like Osprey, Yellow Warbler, Willow Flycatcher, Veery, and Wild Turkey may also be seen in the area. Portland is also the northernmost range of a few songbirds including Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Wren. Lunch will be in downtown Portland!

After a quick stop at Crescent Beach State Park to scan the ocean, we will spend the remainder of the day at Scarborough Marsh. This vast saltmarsh habitat may be the best place on the East Coast to find both Nelson’s Sparrow and Saltmarsh Sparrow together…. and without getting covered in mud! Those two sparrows will be our top priorities, but beware of tricky hybrids! Least Tern can be seen here in addition to ‘Eastern’ Willet, Tricolored Heron, and Glossy Ibis. Scarborough Marsh can sometimes be a back-up spot for finding Little Egret, and in 2018 we saw a hybrid Tricolored Heron x Snowy/Little Egret here! The declining American Black Ducks can be seen in the marsh channels. We will end the day birding at Pine Point Beach, where closer views of many tern species are possible along with the chance for lingering waterfowl. After dinner we will have an optional excursion for nocturnal birds like Eastern Whip-poor-will and American Woodcock. Night in Portland.

Day 4 – Kennebunk Plains then north to Brownfield Bog and Pinkham Notch. Night in Jackson, NH.

Today we will travel from the seaside beaches of southern Maine to Mount Washington; the tallest mountain in the northeast! An early start is required for everything we have planned for today, and our first stop will be to Capisic Pond to track down a few migrant songbirds plus the possibility for Black-crowned Night-Heron.

A visit to the blueberry barrens and sandhill grasslands around Kennebunk Plains will target Upland Sandpiper and Bobolink. This rare, remnant habitat is home to some equally rare plants, like Northern Blazing Star, which are found nowhere else. The plains are a great location for Grasshopper, Savannah, and Vesper Sparrows in addition to Eastern Towhee and Brown Thrasher – all of which we are unlikely to encounter anywhere else during the tour. Clay-colored Sparrow is rare but also possible. Sometimes a pair of American Kestrel can be found staking out a nice snag to nest in, while Broad-winged Hawk can be spotted soaring high overhead. Prairie Warblers breed in the short pines in this area.

Any birder would be filled with eager anticipation as we begin our journey north through the forests toward the Canadian border. Our next birding locale just happens to be a good ol’ Northwoods bog. From Kennebunk Plains we have a winding hour and 30 minute drive to Brownfield Bog. Wilson’s Snipe and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers breed here! Many of us only get to see these birds in winter or during migration. Wood Duck and both Yellow- and Black-billed Cuckoo are possible here. A whopping 8 species of flycatchers have been reported in June at this location with the rare Yellow-bellied Flycatcher a top target! Yellow-throated and Philadelphia Vireos may be tracked down by their songs. Various warbler species are possible, and they will hopefully be singing their little heart’s out! Our journey north continues through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Night in Jackson.

Day 5 – Mount Washington auto road to summit, Pondicherry NWR. Night in Lancaster.

We will be up early to visit Mount Washington! As we climb in elevation heading toward the 6,288ft summit, you will see how the habitat changes from birch and maple deciduous forest, to spruce and hemlock coniferous forest, then to stunted spruces, and finally the rocky and barren alpine zone! Mount Washington is famous for its extreme weather with sub-zero temperatures, hurricane-force winds, and intense snow and ice throughout the winter. It rarely reaches above 60F in the summer. It’s always windy here and sometimes quite foggy.

Our primary target on Mount Washington is the rare, endemic Bicknell’s Thrush which can be found in the stunted spruces just before the treeless summit. These thrushes are one of America’s most range-restricted and localized birds. They have only recently been considered a distinct species from Gray-cheeked Thrush, and current research actually points toward them being more genetically similar to Veery. There are only a few, scattered high-altitude locations in the northeast that offer the specialized habitat these thrushes require, and Mount Washington is perhaps the easiest and most beautiful location to try for them. Other birds we will be looking for include Boreal Chickadee, American Pipit, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blackpoll Warbler, and White-winged Crossbill. Snowshoe Hare and North American Porcupine are possible along the road. Fog can often obscure views, but whatever the weather conditions may be it’s always beautiful and special up there at the top!

We will spend the afternoon traveling even further north, birding Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge and other hotspots in search of Black-backed Woodpecker and various warblers. Ruffed Grouse is also possible in this area. Night in Lancaster. An optional night-birding excursion will be made after dinner for Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Day 6 – Moose Bog and other Northwoods hotspots. Night in Lancaster.

On day 6 we will venture into northern Vermont and the region affectionately known to locals as the ‘Northern Kingdom’. The forested ridgelines certainly frame the area like massive castle walls. This remote area has fantastic forest habitat and equally fantastic birding possibilities. Ruffed Grouse are rare here but the colorful, secretive Spruce Grouse lurks through these dark, damp forests. Even where this bird is expected, it can be very easy to miss. A visit to Moose Bog should hopefully produce a Spruce Grouse sighting though, and this may also be our best shot at a number of harder-to-find boreal goodies including Black-backed Woodpecker and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Alder Flycatcher, Brown Creeper, Canada Warbler, and Winter Wren will be searched for too. Stunning male Magnolia Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Parula, and Blackburnian Warblers may be singing from the treetops! Swainson’s Thrush and Hermit Thrush nest here, and Red Crossbill flocks may be heard flying overhead. Threatened and declining populations of Rusty Blackbirds breed in the alder-lined creeks. After lunch we will bounce around to a few other far-northern birding hotspots looking for breeding warblers and other songbirds. Night in Lancaster.

Day 7 – Dixville Notch, Moose Alley, & Rangeley hotspots. Night in Augusta.

After breakfast we will set off along Moose Alley, traveling a scenic highway through the northern forests of New Hampshire and back into Maine. As the name implies, this is our best chance at spotting a Moose and will also allow more opportunities to search for Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Snowshoe Hare. A few special stops near Dixville Notch may yield Mourning Warbler and another opportunity for Bicknell’s Thrush. Boy Scout Road near the Kennebago River often produces close encounters with Canada Jays, and is a great road for finding various warblers. Although this area is just as far north as Moose Bog, the habitat is slightly drier and the predominant grouse here will be Ruffed Grouse. Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and both Golden-crowned  and Ruby-crowned Kinglets should be common. Boreal Chickadee is also sometimes encountered in this area. Scattered ponds and lakes are home to nesting Common Loons. From there we will say our goodbyes to the Northwoods, and begin heading back ‘down east’ toward Augusta. Sit back and relax as we travel through beautiful forests and rolling farmland.

Day 8 – Morning birding around Portland as time allows. Departures from Portland Int. Jetport in Portland, ME (PWM) no earlier than noon.

Alas! The final day of our New England birding adventure is here already. Departures are from Portland International Jetport (PWM) but we can do some morning birding between Augusta and Portland as time allows! Please plan to depart no earlier than noon if possible.

Cost

Cost is $2,450 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Portland, Maine (Airport code PWM).
This trip ends in Portland, Maine (Airport code PWM).

Cost Includes

Cost includes all ground transportation, accommodations, entrance fees, and services of your professional leaders.

Cost does not Include

All meals, flights to/from destination city, trip insurance, or anything that is not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.

Single Supplement

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $300 will be assessed.

Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

Seven night’s accommodations in standard motels, all ensuite and comfortable. Wherever possible, we support local establishments that implement eco-friendly practices. Full-size vans or SUVs will be used for this tour.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

Most walking will be short hikes on mostly flat terrain. Our boat trip ventures onto the Gulf of Maine and sea conditions can vary from calm and sunny to choppy, windy, and cold. Please prepare as you would for any pelagic birding adventure.

Recommended Field Guide

Sibley Birds East  (2nd Edition, 2016, Knopf)
by David Allen Sibley

Sibley Birds is also available as an App

 

Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock

by Stephen Kress and Derrick Jackson

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

Location Map