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| Freeport Wild Bird Supply is pleased to announce an expanded selection of travel, tours, workshops, and other outings. We look forward to additional offerings in the near future. As soon as trips and programs are scheduled, they will be added here.
And don't forget to join us for a free local birdwalk every Saturday at 8:00am.
|MonhegZEN Birding Fall Migration Weekend 2014
Cost - Per diem; see below.
Join Derek on Monhegan during the height of migration for 1-3 days searching the island for regular visitors, rarities, and vagrants. If you haven't experienced Maine's Migration Mecca, now is the time! And if you're like many of our regular travelers, you know you can't wait to get back.
This is a casual outing, with boat and hotel reservations, as well as meals, on your own. Also, you can come and go as you please, based on whatever boat and departure times and locations suit you best. Sign up for 1,2, or 3 days.
Cost - $50 per person, per day.
Once again, we’ll be staying at the Trailing Yew (although folks are welcome, as always, to stay elsewhere) We have blocked off rooms for 8 people each night. Reservations are made through the Trailing Yew, at: (207) 596-6194. Office hours: 9:00am-noon, 3:00pm-5:00pm. While we don’t have a group rate, the excellent prices INCLUDES a home cooked DINNER, PLUS breakfast. Rates are $145 for single occupancy, and less per person for double occupancy, per night.
Remember, you do not have to stay or eat with us, but of course, your company is most welcome! Coffee and tea are also available before breakfast, to fuel those first couple of hours of birding. (http://www.trailingyew.com/).
The 2013 outing featured 105 species, including 20 species of warblers. Highlights included daily Lark and Clay-colored Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, Dickcissels, 1-2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Peregrine Falcons at arm's length, and much more!
In the six years we have run this trip, we have averaged 102 species, including 20 species of warblers! Here are Derek’s recent blog entries to see what you are missing!:
Don’t miss this year’s excitement!
Please sign up, and make your hotel reservations soon. The trip is limited to _8_ people.
|Program: The Birds of Hawai’i: Island Biogeography at its Finest...For now.
October 28, 7:00pm
Join Derek at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick for this program for Merrymeeting Audubon. We'll take a tour through the Main Hawaiian Islands, where far-flung vagrants gave rise to some of the most impressive examples of evolution in the world. Today, drastically altered landscapes have reduced native forest, and diseases and competition has pushed the remaining endemic landbirds higher and higher up the slopes of the tallest mountains. Despite being the 50th state of the richest nation in the world, Hawaii is sometimes called “the extinction capital of the world,” with 25% of the US Endangered Species List found on this 0.2% of the country’s land. The plight of Hawaiian birds is too often ignored, but the first step is to appreciate these amazing birds before it’s too late. Hopefully, that appreciation will spur concern and then action.
This program will not dwell on the negatives, however. Instead, we’ll celebrate what can still be saved – and even some species that are thriving. We’ll absorb the breathtaking beauty and stark landscapes of some of the youngest land on earth. We’ll also take a look at the pantheon of introduced avian species from around the globe that now call the island home.
Derek worked with the Palila, one of the critically endangered honeycreepers, in his first job out of college. He will be leading a tour for WINGS Birding, Inc to the archipelago beginning this winter.
For more information:
|Woodcocks Gone Wild! at Pineland Farms
April TBA, 2015
Cost - $7 per person
Join us for our annual evening outing to Pineland Farms in New Gloucester for the sky-dancing of the American Woodcock. Witness the spectacular show as this cryptic and secretive species erupts in a swirling and twirling display of sound and flight. Displaying Wilson's Snipe are also possible.
Meet at 6:30pm at the "Wax Room," below the Visitor's Center at Pineland Farms. We'll caravan onto the farm for a short walk to our favored viewing location. Bring a light-weight chair if you wish. Pre-registration is not required.
The rain date will be Saturday, April TBA.
|Hawaii with Derek and WINGS!
February 21 - March 3, 2015
It might be the 50th state, but birding in Hawaii feels like a world away. Without vagrancy, no remote islands would have landbirds. Here, on one of the world’s most remote archipelagos, the chance arrival of far-flung waifs—a finch, a solitaire, and a monarch flycatcher—led to mind-blowing adaptive radiation that resulted in the evolution of some very unique species. The ancestral finch, for example, gave rise to the Hawaiian Honeycreepers, which have developed a huge range of shapes, sizes, and especially bills, from curlew-like curves for probing cavities to grosbeak-like seed-smashers. Some argue that the honeycreepers put even “Darwin’s Finches” to shame.
Unfortunately, in the modern era many of these species have had a difficult time adapting to human colonists with their cats, rats, and other co-habitants. Since the arrival of the first Polynesians in the islands, introduced species, diseases, hunting, and habitat loss have only increased. Many species have been lost, but our tour will celebrate those that persist despite all threats.
On the other hand, because efforts have been made to reduce the threats of introduced predators, seabirds and waterbirds are not only surviving but in some areas thriving! The once critically endangered Nene (Hawaiian Goose), the state bird, has staged quite the comeback. In some places native waterbirds such as the endemic Hawaiian Duck (Koloa Maoli) and Hawaiian Coot (‘Alae Ke‘oke‘o) and the endemic subspecies of Black-necked (Hawaiian) Stilt (‘Ae‘o), Black-crowned Night-Heron (‘Auku‘u), and Common (Hawaiian) Gallinule (‘Alae ‘Ula) are common. And thanks to fencing and conservation, some of the pelagic species that nest only in the Hawaiian Islands are recovering.
Meanwhile, the developed lowlands, full of introduced vegetation from around the world, are teeming with a host of introduced birds from all corners of the globe. Despite the “unnatural” state of these areas and their new avian denizens, we’ll enjoy them, from the smallest waxbills and finches to the largest francolins.
For more information, including a complete itinerary and prospective birdlist, check out the WINGS website:
|Bicknell's Thrush and the White Mountains
Cost - TBA
We’re pleased to continue our annual "Bicknell's Thrush and White Mountains Weekend" tour, complete with round-trip transportation. We’ll meet that store on Saturday at 7:00am and drive towards the White Mountains. We’ll might make one birding stop in southern Maine (likely the Kennebunk Plains, Sanford Sewerage facility, and/or Brownfield Bog) on the way into New Hampshire, or we'll get a lunch to go and make a run for the hills. Either way, we'll spend the afternoon birding in the White Mountain National Forest for boreal specialties such as Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and a variety of northern warblers. The exact itineray will be developed based on weather, road conditions, and participant's "wantlists."
After an early dinner, we’ll head to the Mount Washington Auto Road for a private after-hours tour up the mountain. We’ll visit the summit and look for breeding American Pipits, and then get in place for sunset at the ethereal song of the enigmatic Bicknell’s Thrush. We’ll put ourselves in the best position possible for both hearing, and yes, seeing, this charismatic species.
We’ll spend the night in Gorham and then head out early Sunday morning for some more woodland birding before we make another excursion into the realm of the Bicknell’s Thrush. In addition to breathtaking views, we’ll be effortlessly whisked into the krummholz, where we’ll get a second dose of Bicknell’s and Swainson’s Thrushes, Blackpoll Warblers, and more before slowly birding our way back to Freeport by late afternoon.
This package tour includes:
- Mount Washington Auto Road after-hours, private charter.
- Transportation up a second mountain, TBD on the second day.
- Guiding services.
- round-trip transportation from Freeport
The price does not include meals and your room at the Royalty Inn. However, rooms have been blocked off and you will receive a discounted group price. Make sure to mention that you are part of the “Freeport Wild Bird Supply/Derek Lovitch” group. Visit www.royaltyinn.com or call 1-800-43-RELAX for reservations.
You can read about previous trips here, via Derek's blog:
|Maine and New Hampshire Tour with Derek and WINGS
June 19-28, 2015
Join Derek on this comprehensive Maine-New Hampshire tour for WINGS. 163 species were recorded on his 2013 tour (179 in 2010 with the expanded format that we will be running in 2015), including including 20 species of warblers, 9 species of flycatchers, 7 species of thrushes, 5 species of terns, and 4 species of alcids. Some of the highlights included two remarkable experienced with Bicknell's Thrushes, a nest hole brimming with Black-backed Woodpecker kids, Gray Jay families, Sandhill Cranes, the closest Spruce Grouses you could ever experience without catching one, pelagics off of Bar Harbor that included an amazing show of Leach's Storm-Petrels, and of course – Machias Seal Island with it's thousands of Atlantic Puffin, Razorbills, and hundreds of Common Murres. Unexpected treats included a Brant, Clay-colored Sparrow, and oversummering waterbirds such as Long-tailed Ducks and a Red-throated Loon.
Other sought-after species seen in 2013 included Northern Fulmar, Great and Sooty Shearwaters, Piping Plover and American Oystercatcher, Roseate and Arctic Terns, Black Guillemot, Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Philadelphia Vireo, Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers, Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrows, Upland Sandpiper and Grasshopper Sparrows...and Moose!
And of course, we see many great and scenic places, and enjoy lots of food - including plenty of lobster, if you so desire!
Here's the itinerary and other details: http://wingsbirds.com/tours/view/111. Also be sure to check out the 2013 trip report and species list for this amazing trip!
|Birding by Schooner!
July 19-25, 2015
Join Derek and Jeannette aboard the Schooner Lewis R. French, America's Oldest Windjammer (and National Historic Landmark) for a truly unique birding experience.
Enjoy peace, quiet, and tranquility (and environmental friendliness!)of wind-powered locomotion as we spend a week aboard the French enjoying great food, lots of rest and relaxation, and some great birding!
We'll have the chance to visit one or more seabird breeding colonies (Eastern Egg Rock, Matinicus Rock, Seal Island, and/or Petit Manan Island - wind and weather permitting, of course), to place us among thousands of breeding seabirds, including Atlantic Puffins, Common Murres, and Razorbills. Roseate, Common, and Arctic Terns will likely be seen, along with other local breeding species from Common Eiders and Black Guillemots to Ospreys and Bald Eagles. Other possibilities include Great Cormorants, and southbound migrant shorebirds.
In the open waters, we'll be on the lookout for Greater, Sooty, Manx, and perhaps even Cory's Shearwater, along with Leach's and Wilson's Storm-petrels. We will also hope for Parasitic Jaegers and perhaps a surprise such as a South Polar Skua or the Red-billed Tropicbird that has spend much of the last 10 summers in the Seal Island area and which put on a truly extraordinary show for us during two of our three visits to this remote colony.
Conditions permitting, we'll spend at least one day chumming offshore to bring seabirds in close, and we'll also spend a few hours on most mornings looking for breeding birds on short land-based excursions - perhaps including Monhegan Island.
For more information, visit the Schooner French's website:
To read all about our 2014 tour, take a look at Derek's blog here:
Also, take a look at Derek's photo journal about our 2013 excursion:
http://mebirdingfieldnotes.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/birding-by-schooner-2103/ Hope to see you aboard!
|The Birds of Casco Bay Aboard the Lucky Catch
Cost - TBA.
Join us for this very popular annual outing aboard the Lucky Catch. We'll enjoy the space, comfort, and speed of their new boat, as we motor on out to the tern breeding colony on Outer Green Island. There we'll look for Roseate (a record 15 pairs nested here in 2010) and Arctic Terns among the hundreds of pairs of Common Terns.
We’ll also check out hotspots around the bay itself as time permits, where we’ll be looking for migrant shorebirds and lingering waterfowl, and enjoy other breeding species such as Black Guillemots and Common Eiders. We'll check out basking Harbor Seals, and look for a Gray Seal or two among them. We'll also visit a couple of Osprey nests, and we are likely to see the local breeding pair of Peregrine Falcons under the Casco Bay Bridge.
Previous outings have yielded White-winged Scoter, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Bridled Tern! And, most trips produce Wilson’s Storm-Petrel and Northern Gannet as well.
All reservations will be made through the good folks at the Lucky Catch. Visit www.luckycatch.com or call 207-761-0941 for more information and reservations.
|Gull Identification Workshop with York County Audubon
Following on the success of our first gull workshop in 2014, we look forward to offering this two-part workshop once again. It is designed to get you started on unraveling the mysteries of gull identification.
In fact, you will soon see that most gulls are not very difficult to tell apart; adults and juveniles of most species usually look very different. We’re going to give ourselves confidence with identifying the easier plumages of our common species, and then tackle the more challenging intermediate plumages. Only then will we have the toolbox to find the needles in the haystack and identify the less-common species.
Part One: Saturday, TBA.
Using Powerpoint and book resources, we’ll start with the basics of gull identification, and then move on to more complicated aspects of identification. Most of our time will be spent looking at photos of common species, but we will then apply what we have learned to explore some identification quandaries. 95% of the gulls that we see in Maine are comprised of just 8 species, so we will start here. Once we establish a basis for understanding our regularly-occurring species, we will have the foundation to tackle the rarities and odd-balls.
We'll have a split-session where Part II, "Advanced Gull Identification," will pick up where part one left off. This part will feature in-depth discussions on challenging individuals, hybrids, and rarities.
Part Two: TBA
We will meet in Portland (Back Cove parking lot on Preble Street Extension, opposite Hannaford) to carpool around the area and apply what we have learned. We’ll spend some time with our most common species: Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed, and then seek out Iceland and Glaucous, and perhaps we’ll find something even better! We’ll “gull” until lunchtime or so.
York County Audubon requests a TBA fee to participate, payable by cash or check at the Saturday session. Please register by calling Pat Moynahan at (207) 284-5487 or by signing up here:
|MonhegZEN Birding Spring Migration Weekend
Cost - Per Diem, see below.
Join Derek on Monhegan during the height of spring migration for 1-3 days searching the island for regular visitors, rarities, and vagrants. This is a casual outing, with boat and hotel reservations, as well as meals, on your own. Although we are likely to eat meals together, we'll have more flexibility on rooming and eating arrangements this way. Also, you can come and go as you please, based on whatever boat and departure times and locations suit you best. Sign up for 1,2, or 3 days.
Late May is a fantastic time to visit Maine’s Monhegan Island. Warblers in their summer finery are pouring through the Northeast, and many will drift over the Gulf of Maine on their nocturnal flights. Come dawn, the birds seek refuge on land, and Monhegan Island is perfectly positioned to catch arrivals. Rapidly changing weather conditions can result in massive “fallouts” of tired migrants, many of which will forage in the rocks on the shoreline. The possibility of overshoots from the south and vagrants from almost any direction adds icing to the cake of the fantastic birding afforded by this quaint little island.
Once again, we’ll be staying at the rustic Trailing Yew, featuring delicious breakfasts and home-cooked dinners. Our comfortable European-style accommodations only enhance the “turn-back-the-clock” mystique of the Mohegan Island experience (although folks are welcome, as always, to stay elsewhere, but there isn’t much open this early in the year). We have blocked off rooms for 8 people at this time (under “Derek Lovitch”). Reservations are made through the Trailing Yew, at: Please call (207) 596-6194. Office hours: 9:00am-noon, 3:00pm-5:00pm. While we don’t have a group rate, the excellent prices INCLUDES a home cooked DINNER, PLUS breakfast. Rates are TBA for single occupancy, and TBA for double occupancy, per night.
Remember, you do not have to stay or eat with us, but of course, your company is most welcome! Coffee and tea are also available before breakfast, to fuel those first couple of hours of birding. (http://www.trailingyew.com/).
With room and travel arrangements made on your own, the cost for this trip is only $50 per person, per day.
Check out Derek's blog for a rundown of the 2014 tour in which a first state record Brewer's Sparrow was the icing on the cake of a weekend that included 94 species (including 19 species of warblers), and many other goodies, such as a Summer Tanager, 2 Orchard Orioles, a Clay-colored Sparrow, an exceptional Eastern Kingbird show, and some outstanding views of many species of warblers:
|Claybrook Mountain Lodge Birding Weekend
June TBA, 2016
Join Derek for a weekend of birding and relaxation at the Claybrook Mountain Lodge!
As predicted before our first visit here in 2012, once you spend some time with Greg and Pat Drummond at their charming lodge in Highland Plantation, you won’t be able to wait to go back! And now is the time!
The trip begins on Friday evening with one of Pat’s scrumptious dinners (6:00pm is dinnertime, you are free to arrive in the late afternoon). We’ll rise early on Saturday to spend the day birding and enjoying other wildlife, scenery, and habitats. Greg will be our co-leader for the day, and in addition to his local knowledge of birding hotspots, we’re more than likely to learn about the tracks and signs of other wildlife, from White-tailed Deer to Coyotes to Black Bear. Greg is a wealth of Maine Woods expertise, and you’ll really enjoy spending time in the field with him.
We’ll have plenty of room in Claybrook’s 15-passenger van, and Pat will pack us a picnic lunch. We’ll bird a wide variety of habitats, but will focus our time in boreal forest. Depending on how far we travel, we may have a chance for all of the boreal specialties including Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Tennessee, Cape May, Bay-breasted, and Blackpoll Warblers and others. A variety of warblers – including goodly numbers of Mourning Warblers, Alder Flycatchers, Lincoln’s Sparrows, and others could be encountered with much shorter drives. We’ll likely check out some meadows for American Bittern and Bobolinks, and we’ll be on the lookout for nomadic finches: White-winged and Red Crossbills and Evening Grosbeaks, although their presence fluctuates widely from year to year. However, "target" birds such as these are only the icing on the cake. This is a trip for "immersion" into the birds of the Maine Woods, and we'll be sampling a variety of habitats, practicing our skills, and seeing a wide range of species.
Returning to the lodge for a little rest before dinner, we might – energy permitting – just have to take a walk to try for an owl or two after sunset.
Sunday morning will be laid back and relaxing. We’ll bird the lodge’s fields, garden, edges, and extensive trail system to enjoy a myriad of breeding species (over 100 species have been recorded from the property). Black-backed Woodpeckers have been seen within a short walking distance, as has Olive-sided Flycatcher and many others. At the very least, we’ll be entertained with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Eastern Bluebirds in the garden. We’ll do a short walk before breakfast, and then a longer stroll before lunch. We may also caravan to one or two local birding hotspots to build our trip list. After lunch, it’s time for a little R&R, reading, or casual birding as you begrudgingly depart for home.
We are only going to take 10 people, so sign up soon!
Price: $TBA per person includes: lodging (shared bathrooms and one to three people per bedroom, ALL MEALS from Friday’s dinner through Sunday’s lunch, guiding for both days including a van tour with Greg on Saturday, and good company!
Single Person supplement (for a private bedroom): $55
Take a look at Claybrook’s website (http://www.claybrookmountainlodge.com/) and when you’re ready to join us, give us a call here at the store – we’ll be handling the reservations and shared room assignments. It's BYOB, by the way.
And have a look at the sights and stories from our 2014 tour:
|An August Weekend in Washington County!
$TBA per person.
We simply love birding Washington County, and we know you will too! From the best whale-watching and in-shore seabirds to boreal residents like Spruce Grouse to a host of breeding warblers to clouds of migrating shorebirds, the birding is super in penultimate “Downeast” in late summer.
This short trip will introduce you to some of the wealth of avian riches the area has to offer. After departing from Freeport at 8:00am on Thursday, we’ll work our way north and east, with various birding stops along the way. We’re unlikely to stop until we are at least north of Waterville, but anywhere from there to Machias is a possibility as we spend the day birding and traveling.
On Friday, we’ll join the Lady H in Eastport for a private four-hour whale- and bird-watching charter. We’ll sift through the masses of Bonaparte’s Gulls for Little, Black-headed, and maybe even a Sabine’s Gull around the Old Sow whirlpool, before we head up and into New Brunswick’s Head Harbor Passage. In our converted lobster boat, we’ll be close to the action as Minke and Fin Whales feed in the channel, sometimes at arm’s length! Seabirds can be abundant, especially Sooty and Great Shearwaters. We’ll keep an eye out for Manx Shearwaters, Atlantic Puffins, and jaegers. Black-legged Kittiwakes, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Razorbills, and Common Murres are often seen as well.
After spending the morning on the water, we’ll grab lunch and then spend the afternoon birding around Eastport and on down to Lubec. On Saturday, we’ll pick up where we left off, working our way around the Bold Coast to or from Lubec. Spruce Grouse and other boreal residents, breeding warblers (they won’t be singing, so we’ll have to work hard to find most of them, hopefully by running into mixed species foraging flocks), and migrant shorebirds - especially at the Lubec flats. Black Guillemots, Common Eiders, and lots of Bald Eagles will be commonplace.
We’ll keep it flexible on Sunday, birding the area all morning before beginning our trip back home after lunch. We may seawatch from West Quoddy Head (Great Cormorant, tubenoses, alcids), check on the shorebirds once again, and/or work for some of the breeding specialties of the area.
If you haven’t birded this area before, or you are just looking to bird it again, this is a can’t-miss trip! Lots of diversity, and some really great opportunities to get close to birds (and whales!) will be offered. We hope you will join us to bird one of our favorite areas in the state at our absolute favorite time of year here!
Check out the results from our inaugural 2014 tour that included 10,000 Bonaparte's Gulls, 4-5 Parasitic Jaegers, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Boreal Chickadees, and so much more:
Terms and Cost:
The trip price of $TBA per person includes our round-trip van from Freeport, our four-hour boat charter, and guiding fees for all four days. We’ll eat together, but split the bill. Lodging reservations will also be made on your own, but we have rooms blocked off under “Freeport Wild Bird Supply” at the Machias Motor Inn (207-255-4861). Perched on the banks of the Machias River, birding from the back porch is fantastic, often including fishing Ospreys and hunting Bald Eagles.
Maximum 9 participants.
|The Maine Coast in Fall - with Derek and WINGS.
The coast of Maine is one of those treasures—beautiful, of course, and rugged, yet also accessible. Our short tour will visit three of our favorite places, Scarborough Marsh, Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park, and Monhegan Island.
We'll begin in Scarborough Marsh for Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrows, as well as lingering shorebirds. We'll also visit a variety of migrant traps along the coast.
Next, we'll head to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, where we’ll spend our time seeing the sights, all of which are good for birds, and take a boat trip into the Gulf of Maine to look for seabirds and whales.
Then it's off to Monhegan Island! Small, isolated, and quite far offshore, it concentrates landbird migrants, attracts off-course vagrants, and provides some of the most pleasant birdwatching anywhere. There are very few motor vehicles, and footpaths lead out in many directions through spruce forests and small clearings to high rocky headlands and tiny coves. Fall is probably the best birdwatching time at Monhegan, as nocturnal migrants drift offshore on northwest winds and find refuge on the island, sometimes in large numbers.
All of these birds, sandwiched between beautiful sunrises and star-filled skies – and interspersed with breaks for lobster (even in scrambled eggs) - I’ll ask you if you can think of a finer place to be!?
For complete information, including lodging arrangements and a complete itinerary, visit the WINGS website:
And be sure to take a look at the birdlist from our 2012 tour: