DownEast Adventures Tours
We are very excited to be partnering with DownEast Adventures, the travel department of the esteemed DownEast Magazine! We are honored to be their provider for a series of unique and exclusive birdwatching endeavors.
Winter Waterbirds Workshop
January 14, 2024; 9:00am - 4:00pm
Winter is a wonderful time for birding in Maine – at least when you are dressed appropriately! Colorful seaducks that breed in the high Arctic grace our shorelines – including all three scoter species and dapper Long-tailed Ducks, along with everyone’s favorite: striking Harlequin Ducks. Purple Sandpipers and Great Cormorants replace our summertime shoreline denizens. And if the winds are right, very sought-after alcids - including Dovekies and Thick-billed Murres – join our regular Black Guillemots and Razorbills. Black-legged Kittiwakes, Northern Gannets, and “white-winged” gulls add to the mix. In this workshop, we’ll hit a few of the prime viewing locations along Maine’s southern coast. But we won’t just be working on the checklist today. Instead, we’ll be focused on learning how to search for these birds – the how, when, and why – and how to identify them. We’ll learn about microhabitats, weather considerations, and seasonal timing to aid our search today and in the future. By visiting several seasonally-productive sites, we’ll compare similar species while taking time to savor the splashes of color offered by winter seaducks in an otherwise gray and white landscape.
We’ll meet at 9 a.m. (please arrive 15 minutes early so we can depart on time) at the Perkin’s Cove parking lot in Ogunquit (end of Perkin’s Cove Road, off of Shore Road). We’ll begin with a walk here, so get your layers ready! We’ll then carpool to the rest of the day’s birding destinations, based on tides, weather, and especially the birds themselves! We’ll return to Perkin’s Cove around 4 p.m.
To get an idea of what you may see, see the 2023 trip report.
Spring Migrant Songbird Workshop
May 12, 2024; 7:00 - 11:00am
This half-day workshop will focus on the migrant songbirds, especially warblers, that are passing through Maine’s most famous migrant trap, Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery. At the peak of warbler migration, we’ll learn how to identify these charismatic birds, and we’ll discuss their mind-boggling migration and what they’re up to in Maine.
Whether it’s the kind of migration day that legends are made of or a slow day (every day of migration is different), we’ll take advantage of whatever species are present to truly get to know them. Sure, we’ll work on “the list,” but our focus will be on preparing for your next birding outing, giving you the tools to identify birds on your own, maximize your time in the field by predicting where and when to be birding based on NEXRAD radar, geography, habitat, and much more. Of course, if there are too many warblers around, we might just have to simply enjoy them!
We’ll meet at the main entrance on Stevens Ave. to Evergreen Cemetery at 7 a.m. (or as soon as the front gate is opened), near the first building on the right. From there, we’ll caravan to the best birding location, returning to the entrance around 11. If the birding is slow, we’ll relocate in the mid-morning to another nearby park. (No public bathroom facilities).
We’ll meet at the main entrance (Stevens Ave.) to Evergreen Cemetery at 7 a.m., near the first building on the right to carpool into the best birding location that day, returning to the entrance around 11.
Rangeley Birding Workshop
June 4-6, 2024
Double Occupancy - $800
Single Occupancy - $900
Nestled on the shore of Mooselookmeguntic Lake, the Bald Mountain Camps will be our base for two days of exploring the magnificent Rangeley Lakes region. We will have dinner as a group on the evening of our arrival provided by Bald Mountain Camps. This ___pm dinner will also serve as our welcome meeting to prepare for the next two days of birding.
We’ll get an early start the next morning, when we will sample the breeding birds of the lake’s lowlands. Blackburnian warblers will be abundant, and we’ll look and listen for a variety of species from hermit thrushes to northern parulas. We’ll practice our birding-by-ear skills - a critical tool in the Maine woods. Depending on how busy the birding is, we’ll likely caravan to one other site before stopping for lunch. Back at BMC, we’ll have a break to enjoy the property during the mid-day sun, and then head out for another short drive to a local birding site for a couple of hours. The evening will be dedicated to looking for and listening to common loons from the camp’s property, with a break for a delicious dinner.
In the morning, we’ll get an early start to head out to the famous Boy Scout Road — one of the premier birding destinations of the area. Canada jays will hopefully await, one of the first “Boreal specialties” we will be hoping for. Easy walking and up to 15 species of breeding warblers await, with our focus on learning how to identify them by sight and sound — not just checking them off and moving on. Depending on time and activity, we may relocate to several nearby locations that involve short walks for a variety of species, such as bay-breasted and palm warbler, yellow-bellied and olive-sided flycatchers, and more. While boreal chickadees and spruce grouse are now very rare in the lowlands in this area, the possibility exists to encounter them, but we’re not going to focus on the rare species. Instead, we’re going to learn the more common and widespread species, with a special focus on watching behavior. We’ll return to Bald Mountain Camps for lunch and some casual lakeside birding as we recap some of the species and skills we practiced throughout the day before heading our separate ways.
More about Bald Mountain Camps
The Philbrick Family is a second-generation owner, carrying on a family tradition of providing guests with the services that will make your stay a most pleasant and enjoyable one. Bald Mountain Camps started in the 1800s as a sporting camp. They carry on that tradition today, adding modern conveniences.
Bald Mountain Camps have 14 log cabins that can accommodate 2-8 people comfortably. The cabins are completely furnished. Each cabin offers a private porch, Rinnai heaters (primary source of heat), fireplace or woodstove, private bath, spacious living room, and individual bedrooms.
This workshop includes
2 nights accommodations at the Bald Mountain Camps
Dinner on Friday night
Lunch on Saturday & Sunday
Birding sessions on Saturday & Sunday
Not included: Transportation between birding sites; carpooling requested and encouraged.
August 15, 2024; 8:00am - 4:00pm
With more than 35 species of shorebirds (a diverse group including plovers and sandpipers) regularly appearing in Maine, this workshop is designed to appreciate the diversity and beauty of this fascinating family.
We will hit some of the marshes, beaches, and rocky roosts that shorebirds prefer at the peak of their migration. The ebbs and flows of the season, daily and recent weather, and other factors could produce more than 20 species of shorebirds in our time together. Our focus will be in comparative experience, learning how to recognize each species both near and far. Starting with the basics, such as plover vs. sandpiper, we’ll work our way up to the identification quandaries such as the “peeps” and the yellowlegs. We will provide you with a “toolkit” to approach shorebird identification on your own, using a combination of habitat, shape, size, structure, behavior, and plumage to identify this wonderfully diverse and attractive group of birds. Migration, conservation, and natural history will also be discussed.
We’ll meet at the public Park & Ride lot between Famous Dave’s BBQ and Cabela’s, off Payne Road at exit 42 of the Maine Turnpike, at 8 a.m. (please arrive 15 minutes early so we can depart on time) to carpool to the day’s birding destinations, based on tides, weather, and especially the birds themselves! We’ll return by 4 p.m., with an hour break for lunch (not included), likely at a place with multiple nearby options.
Monhegan Birding Workshop
September 13-15, 2024
Double Occupancy - $1400
Single Occupancy - $850
Join Derek Lovitch for three days of birding at Maine’s famous Migration Mecca. As the summer crowds dwindle, the island becomes a birders’ paradise, with birding opportunities around every corner. This tour will spend three days sampling what the island has to offer during the peak of migration, from warblers to hawks to sparrows to the unexpected. Weather (and sometimes, lack thereof) will dictate how much we do or do not see, but every day is different out there. We’ll learn that fall warblers are rarely if ever “confusing” and why migrants – and vagrants from any direction – drop by this offshore migrant trap.
While finding and seeing birds will be the priority, we will also do a bit of informal workshopping in the afternoons to learn more about the mechanisms and marvels of bird migration. Day one will begin at the dock for the Hardy Boat in New Harbor. We’ll keep an eye out for birds from the top deck of the boat as we make the hour-long crossing to the island. Upon our arrival, we’ll hit the ground running to make the most out of our first morning at this special place. Once we’re on land, we’ll be on foot for the next 2 days, with several walks throughout the day. We’ll mostly be on dirt roads with some steep sections, but we’ll also traverse some narrow trails full of roots and rocks. Expect to spend time on “unimproved surfaces.” You will set a new personal record on your step-counter - especially when the bird we most want to see gets discovered on the opposite end of the island just before mealtime!
After we check in at Monhegan House, lunch will be on your own, with a variety of options scattered about the town. After a break, we’ll head back out later in the afternoon for some more birding, before assembling again for an evening “cocktail hour” (BYOB; also available on the island) and our migration workshop where we’ll discuss the birds of the day, how and why we saw (and didn’t see) what we did, and more. The next two mornings we’ll once again maximize our time on the island. Following a short walk shortly after sunrise, we’ll enjoy the famous Monhegan House breakfast before birding for the remainder of the morning. Once again, we’ll break for lunch before reconvening for some afternoon birding: on the second day until we prepare for our evening “cocktail hour and migration review” and on the third day, right up until it’s time to head to the ferry.
Some folks may wish to skip some walks, either to sleep in or to take in the museum and art galleries, but there will be some free time after lunch each afternoon for everyone to partake in all the other special things the island has to offer, from hiking to an incredible craft brewery.
More about Monhegan House:
Fall asleep to the sound of the sea and wake up to panoramic views of Maine's premier seaside oasis. The Monhegan House offers 27 bright, comfortable rooms on four floors with beautiful views of the ocean, the lighthouse and meadow, or both. They offer both single and double rooms that are appointed with period furniture and plush, comfortable bedding.
Bring at least one extra layer more than you think you will need. Although the inn as a heated common area, rooms can get cold at night, especially if the sun is not shining, and mornings can already be chilly and damp.
This workshop includes:
2 Night accommodations at the Monhegan House
Breakfast at Monhegan House Saturday and Sunday
Dinner at Monhegan House Friday and Saturday
Birding sessions on Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Round trip ferry transportation on Hardy Boat Cruises
See Derek's blog entry to see how the 2023 trip went.