Our first “Birds of Casco Bay” tour of 2022, in partnership with Freeport’s own Seacoast Tours was a delightful escape on a perfect warm and calm summer day on July 31st.
We motored around several of the islands between Freeport and Harpswell, checking ledges and outer islands for various bird- and wildlife. Scattered Harbor Seals were sighted, and we spent time to take a close look at what exactly an oyster farm is. All the expected local breeding birds were seen well, including numerous Ospreys, several Bald Eagles, lots of Common Eiders, Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, and Double-crested Cormorants. Common Terns were, scattered about – including some recently-fledged juveniles, and we saw at least 5 Great Blue Herons. A few Laughing Gulls were added to the mix as well.
The only shorebird that breeds in the bay are Spotted Sandpipers, and we found one on Upper Green. We had hoped for migrant shorebirds given the late July date, but today we were limited to one Semipalmated Plover, one small flock of distant peeps, and a fly-by from a lone Semipalmated Sandpiper.
For still-unknown reasons, the Maquoit-Middle Bay complex is one of the best areas in the state to find over-summering sea ducks. A variety of high-Arctic nesting waterbirds that spend their winters with us can sometimes be found in Maine, but with unusual and regular frequency here. There haven’t been many sightings of unseasonable ducks from shore this summer, but today we found a single male Surf Scoter at the mouth of Maquoit Bay – a rare treat to observe scoters in shorts and t-shirts!
With all of the expected summer denizens well-seen, and once again another sighting of note, we are starting to find that these waters can be quite productive in the summer months. And this year, we’ll have the opportunity to compare today’s roster to a completely different sweet of birds we are expecting to encounter when we head out again for another “Birds of Casco Bay” cruise in October!