Tag Archives: bird watching

Acadia Birding Festival 2015 – Day 1

The Acadia Birding Festival is Maine’s premiere bird watching festival and was established in 1998.

Group at Indian Point Blagden Preserve
Group at Indian Point Blagden Preserve

This year, the Festival is from 28-31 May, plus two post-festival trips on 1-2 June, and over these days it visits 27 different birding locations.

Male Hairy Woodpecker feeding young at nest hole
Male Hairy Woodpecker feeding young at nest hole

For ourselves, the main Day One trip was to Indian Point Blagden Preserve – a path through mixed woodland leading down to the beach at the N.W. corner of Mount Desert Island and the Acadia National Park.

Red-eyed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Our list of warblers seen included: Ovenbird, American Redstart, Northern Parula, and Black-and-White, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Blue & Black-throated Green Warblers.

Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler

Other species seen included Common Loon, immature Bald Eagles, Hairy Woodpecker (at nest), Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin and Dark-eyed Junco.

Magnolia Warbler
Magnolia Warbler

Species heard but not seen included: Mourning Dove, Eastern-wood Pewee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Winter Wren.

Oven Bird
Oven Bird

And the guides for this event?  Well, there’s a whole truck-load of experts – too many to mention by name – but they are headed up by two internationally-known names:  Ken Kaufman, inter alia the author of several excellent books about birds, and David la Puma, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory in New Jersey.

Harbor Seal, just off shore
Harbor Seal, just off shore

But for now, I’m just looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings!

Eddie

 

Looking Forward to the Arrival of Swallows and Swifts (video)

My inspiration for this post comes directly from the Oakmoss Education blog, where Mary Jo Graham has written an interesting post about tree swallows.

What I would like to do is mention similarities and differences between the swallow family (more technically known as hirundines) in the USA and the swallows and martins in my native Britain, where there are only three such species, compared to America’s eight regular species and two ‘casual’ visitors.

video from BTO explaining how to identify UK hirundines & swifts

Two of these species are found as regular summer visitors in both countries. The bird that Brits call just the ‘swallow’ is known in the USA as the ‘barn swallow’ (Hirundo rustica).  The British birds spend their winters in Africa whereas the American birds head down into South America.  Interestingly, the North European subspecies are always white-breasted, whereas the American birds are a buff or cinnamon color underneath.  I’ve also seen many birds of this species in several African countries where some of them are very bright orange underneath, and I presume these are yet another subspecies — perhaps one that is resident year-round in the so-called  ‘Dark Continent’.

Is it worth knowing these differences, here in the States?  Well, if you travel within North America it might be, because two of the white-breasted, Eurasian subspecies are casual visitors here.  Hirundo rustica rustica and Hirundo rustica gutturalis are both occasionally seen in west and north Alaska, and the latter has also been seen in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Another hirundine that is found on both sides of the Atalantic is the bank swallow (USA) or sand martin (Britain).  Again, the scientific name — Riparia riparia — shows that these birds are indeed the same species.

Britain’s third member of this family is the house martin (Delichon urbica), which has been seen on both sides of North America: Western Alaska, where it is a casual visitor in spring, and a record of a single bird at an island off the coast of Newfoundland.

Although not closely related to swallows, swifts cause some confusion to new birders.  North America has four regular species, only one of which — the chimney swift — is to be found on the eastern side of the continent.  Britain, on the other hand, only has one — the common swift (Apus apus) — which is an ‘accidental’ visitor to islands off both Alaska and Newfoundland.  Records of visits also exist for Bermuda and (quote) “probably the north east” of the USA.