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FWBS Exclusive Tours

Woodcocks Gone Wild!

April 6, 2024; 6:45pm - 8:30pm

(Weather date: 4/13)

Cost - $8 per person
 

Join us for our annual evening outing 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. This year, our outing will take place on our property in Durham, where we have found superb viewing opportunities in a peaceful setting.

 

With the new location, we’ll avoid the need to caravan, and we’ll only need to take a short walk on a paved driveway and/or mowed trails, depending on the exact location we choose to assemble. Feel free to bring a folding chair. As usual, we’ll start with a short talk about woodcocks and their ecology before getting in position for the sunset.

 

This year, we will be requesting pre-registration (coming January 2024). While we’re happy to take cash for “walk ups,” pre-registration will allow us to email folks specific directions shortly before the event and communicate efficiently should it need to be postponed due to weather.

See the recap of our 2023 and 2022 trips to see what you can expect, although note that these occurred at our location for the past 15+ years, Pineland Farms.

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Monhegan Spring Migration Weekend

May 24-27, 2024 

Cost - $65 per day, see below.

Join Derek on Monhegan during the height of spring migration for 1-4 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, 3,or 4 days, we will let you know the time and place to meet based on your arrival.

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 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. While we don’t have a group rate, the reasonable price includes an excellent breakfast. A flashlight or a sleeping bag, if you are one to get cold at night, are also recommended. No matter where you are staying on Monhegan, however, bring one more layer than you think you will need!

 

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 wherever you choose to stay before breakfast, to fuel those first couple of hours of birding. About one week or so before the date, you'll receive an email with a daily schedule for what times and where each walk will meet. That way, you can come and go as you please, feeling free to take in the museum, art galleries, hiking trails, etc...or just sleep in!

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:

 

Our 2016 tour featured 98 species including 20 species of warblers, along with a Purple Martin, White-eyed Vireo, both Red and White-winged Crossbills, a roosting Common Nighthawk and an exclusive bird-friendly beer!

During the 2017 tour, we had good looks at Summer Tanagers, Cattle Egrets, and Orange-crowned Warbler. 
 

On our 2018 tour , 97 species were highlighted by 18 species of warblers including lots of Blackpoll, Tennessee, and Blackburnians and 1 Mourning; a Brant and 3 Eastern Bluebirds (rare on the island), Summer Tanager, Red Crossbills, and a whole lot more. 

The 2019 tour produced a warbler fallout along with White-winged and Eurasian Collared Doves (Maine's second state record!).

The 2021 tour had a very nice crossbill showing. And, the 2022 tour featured a very cooperative Black-billed Cuckoo.

2023 was highlighted by a flycatching Blue Grosbeak.

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED BY CONTACTING US DIRECTLY. Hotel and ferry reservations must be made on your own. The trip is limited to 10 people per day. 

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Bicknell's Thrush Weekend

June 29 - 30, 2024

Cost per person:

Double Occupancy - $210

Single Occupancy - $260

By popular demand, we are bringing back a dedicated Bicknell’s Thrush tour for 2024! But we’re going to try something different this time.  Don’t worry, we’ll still have two chances (one evening, one morning) for the enigmatic thrush.  Our base will be Errol, NH, with a room at the quaint but clean and comfortable Errol Motel (included; details below). From there, we will carpool to several local birding sites.

While Bicknell’s Thrush is the primary target, this new itinerary will give us a better chance at other boreal species, including Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Palm and Blackpoll Warblers, and especially Philadelphia Vireo and Mourning Warbler.  

We’ll meet at the Errol Motel at 9:00am on Saturday morning for a short drive to a trail in the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. Here, an easy walk (but be prepared for biting insects!) will get us into lowland boreal habitat along the Magalloway River, for our first chances at Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, and Canada Jay. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Palm Warbler are likely, and this will be our first chance at Olive-sided Flycatcher (nearby) and Red or White-winged Crossbills if they are around this summer.

 

Returning to Errol for a quick to-go lunch (or bring your own from home) before we enjoy a little casual birding or early check-in, depending on the time and local info. After an afternoon break, we’ll have an early dinner before heading out for a drive up a mountain for our first attempt at Bicknell’s Thrush as dusk approaches. Carpooling will be critical for this excursion for the sake of efficiency.

 

It’ll be a late evening, yet we’ll get up wicked early the next day for another carpool up the same mountain for the thrush, regardless of if we saw it the night before. We’ll be on the road before the town wakes up (note: most rooms do not have coffee pots, so plan accordingly) so we’ll serve a light continental breakfast (included) with some sort of liquid brain (coffee) in the field, upon arrival in the realm of the Bicknell’s Thrush.

We’ll spend as much time as necessary, or until it just gets too late to have a chance at the thrush, enjoying the likes of Blackpoll Warblers and perhaps a Fox Sparrow or two. We’ll be on foot for a while, including some incline, but most of our birding will be on dirt roads or short sections of trail. Then, we’ll begin our trek downhill, making stops for other specialties, especially Philadelphia Vireo and Mourning Warbler, most of which will be roadside or view short walks.

 

Returning to Errol, we’ll enjoy a leisurely lunch. Afterwards, there will be an optional excursion to one or more local spots to try and clean up some of the species that we may have missed (no carpooling required as we can head our separate ways when we are ready).

 

Included:

2 days of guiding

Lodging for 1 night

Breakfast in the field on Sunday morning

Not included:

Transportation, but carpooling will be required.

Lunches and dinner on Saturday evening.

Recommended items to pack:

In addition to binoculars, feel free to bring a camera, but this is not a photo tour and photographic opportunities for the thrush will likely be very limited.

Warm layer(s) for late evening and early morning.

Sturdy, preferably waterproof footwear as mud is always likely.

Bug repellent, clothing, head nets, or anything else you prefer.

Rain gear – we’ll be going out rain or shine, unless extremely heavy rain impacts road conditions.

Snack or canned/bottled coffee/tea for early morning.

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Birds of Casco Bay - Boat Tour

August 2024 TBA 

9:00-11:30am

October 2024 TBA 

9:00 - 11:30am

Cost - $45 (adult)/$25 (child)

August:

Join the crew of Seacoast Tours and Derek Lovitch from Freeport Wild Bird Supply on a special tour of the islands and waters of Casco Bay. We’ll explore the inner islands of Freeport, Brunswick and Harpswell as we search for osprey, eagles, eiders, Common Terns, and an occasional seal basking in the sun on the ledges of hidden coves. We’ll focus on the common breeding water and shoreline birds of the region, including photographic opportunities whenever we can, but without disturbing any nests.

This special small-group trip is timed for the peak of shorebird migration. We’ll explore a few islands for possible roosting sites, but spend most of our time working the extensive mudflats of the Royal River Estuary. In fact, the local Indigenous Peoples called the river Westcustogo, meaning “muddy.”  Rich with benthic invertebrates, large numbers of shorebirds feed here during their southbound migration.  On a private tour last year, we encountered hundreds of shorebirds of seven species, mostly in close proximity to the boat.  Many were side-by-side, allowing for easy analysis and comparison to learn the basics of shorebird identification, so our goal is to recreate that experience

 

October:

Join the crew of Seacoast Tours and Derek Lovitch from Freeport Wild Bird Supply on a special tour of the islands and waters of Casco Bay. We’ll explore the inner islands of Freeport, Brunswick and Harpswell as we search for eagles, migrant waterfowl, and an occasional seal basking in the sun on the ledges of hidden coves. We’ll focus on the common resident and migratory water and shoreline birds of the region, including photographic opportunities whenever we can.

Conditions and tide permitting, we’ll poke around the mouth of Maquoit Bay and especially up into Middle Bay, two of the richest areas for waterfowl concentrations.  If we can find a mass of American Black Ducks, we’ll scour them for a variety of other dabblers, such as Green-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers.  Some of our wintering and migratory bayducks, such as Surf and White-winged Scoters will just be arriving, and Common Loons begin to build in for the winter.

Our October 2023August 2023July 2022 and October 2022 tour reports are posted on our website to give you an idea of what we saw.  On our June 2021 trip, unexpected highlights included a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Roseate Tern, while in July of 2022, we found an oversummering Surf Scoter in addition to the usual summer denizens. 

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Monhegan Fall Migration Weekend

September 27-29, 2024 

Cost - $65 per day; 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, we will give you the time and place to meet us on the island based on when you arrive.

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. While we don’t have a group rate, the reasonable price includes an excellent breakfast. A flashlight or a sleeping bag, if you are one to get cold at night, are also recommended. No matter where you are staying on Monhegan, however, bring one more layer than you think you will need!

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 wherever you choose to stay before breakfast, to fuel those first couple of hours of birding. About one week or so before the date, you'll receive an email with a daily schedule for what times and where each walk will meet. That way, you can come and go as you please, feeling free to take in the museum, art galleries, hiking trails, etc...or just sleep in!


In the eleven years we have run this trip on this weekend, we have averaged 95 species, including 17 species of warblers! Here are Derek’s tour reports to see what you are missing!:

20132014201520162017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021,2022

 

Don’t miss this year’s excitement!

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED BY CONTACTING US DIRECTLY. Hotel and ferry reservations must be made on your own. The trip is limited to 10 people per day.

Register
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