Workshops, Programs and Joint Tours
Birding Tour with Harpswell Heritage Land Trust
May 18 & 21, 2023
Derek will be leading two birdwalks at several of the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust preserves at the peak of spring migration. Both walks are open to the public, but pre-registration is required.
Bicknell's Thrush "Pre-Tour Extension w/NJ Audubon"
June 15 - 17, 2023
Co-led by Scott Barnes of NJ Audubon and Derek Lovitch
Prior to our comprehensive coastal-focused tour (see description below), we have arranged for a special extension to look for Bicknell's Thrushes in New Hampshire. We'll charter the Mount Washington Stage Company's specially-equipped vans for an exclusive evening ride up to the realm of the enigmatic and declining Bicknell's Thrush.
We'll get an early start from our Portland hotel, visiting the venerable Kennebunk Plains where we will look for grassland specialties including Upland Sandpiper and Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrows among many others. Depending on time and weather, we'll then work our way to the White Mountains, with potential stops for species such as Louisiana Waterthrush, Willow and Alder Flycatchers, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, and Philadelphia Vireo. We'll be sure to have a break and an early dinner before the can't miss evening excursion.
If we did not have success on Mount Washington the night before, we will try one of two other possible locations for Bicknell's Thrush, weather and road conditions permitting. Otherwise, we'll seek other boreal specialties based on recent reports, and these could include Black-backed Woodpecker, Canada Jay, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, and Philadelphia Vireo and/or second chances at some of the local specialties that we may have missed on the prior day. Before dinner, we'll be back in Portland for those who will be joining us for the rest of our tour.
Maine/New Hampshire Tour w/New Jersey Audubon
June 17 - 25, 2023
Co-led by Scott Barnes of NJ Audubon and Derek Lovitch
Early summer birding in one of the most beautiful and sparsely populated areas in the eastern United States during the peak of breeding bird activity. From coastal wetlands near Portland where “southern” species can be found to through the stunning scenery of the Bold Coast and its seabirds, this tour will survey the wide diversity of summering birds found in the region. On our boat trip to Machias Seal Island, we’ll see terns and alcids, including Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins at close range. Storm-Petrels and shearwaters may be numerous offshore, and we’ll do a second boat trip looking for seabirds and whales from Bar Harbor. And there will be plenty of opportunities to indulge in lobster!
Species we’ll focus on viewing on this tour include Spruce Grouse, Upland Sandpiper*, Roseate, Arctic and Black Terns, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Common Murre, Black Guillemot, 2-3 species of shearwaters, Wilson’s and Leach’s Storm-Petrels, Bicknell’s Thrush*, Black-backed Woodpecker*, Philadelphia Vireo*, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and the possibility of up to 20 species of warblers. An Asterix next to species mentioned above are likely to be pre-tour extension-only.
Bird Feeding Basics and Problem Solving
October TBA 2023; 6:30 - 8:00pm
Gardiner Area Adult Ed, Gardiner Area High School
Cost - $20
An introduction to creating a successful bird feeding garden, including food, feeders, pest issues, habitat, and conservation, using a powerpoint presentation chock full of expert advice, beautiful bird photos and helpful tips. Derek will help you help birds in an enjoyable and successful backyard habitat. And yes, we can keep squirrels off feeders too!
Workshop: Gull Identification
Part I: Saturday, January 2024 TBA(1:00-4:30pm)
Part II: Sunday, January 2024 TBA (8:00am-12:00pm)
Cost - TBA
This two-part workshop, on Saturday and Sunday, will get you started on unraveling the mysteries of gull identification.
Actually, most gulls are not very difficult to tell apart, though adult and juveniles of most species look very different. We’re going to give ourselves confidence with identifying the easier plumage’s of our common species, and then tackle the more challenging intermediate plumage’s and the less-common species.
Saturday will be indoors at TBA will be divided into two sections (you need not be present for both):
1:00 pm-2:30 pm – Beginning Gull Identification. Using Powerpoint and book resources, we’ll start with the basics of gull identification, such as feather topography and aging. We’ll then focus on our most common species: Ring-billed, Herring, Great Black-backed, Laughing, and Bonaparte’s Gulls.
3:00 pm-4:30 pm – Advanced Gull Identification. Now comfortable with the basics, we’ll move on to the uncommon species: Lesser Black-backed, Iceland, Glaucous, and Black-legged Kittiwake. Next up will be the rarities: Little, Black-headed, and yes, even Thayer’s. We’ll touch upon “Megas” such as Mew, Slaty-backed, and Sabine’s, and we’ll discuss hybrids. Finally, we’ll apply what we have learned to tackle and understand some identification quandaries, such as the famous “Westbrook Gull” before we finish up with some photo quizzes to test our new-found knowledge.
Field Workshop: Sunday (8:00am – 12:00pm):
We’ll meet in Portland (Back Cove parking lot on Preble Street Ext, opposite the Hannaford’s) to carpool around the area to 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 hope that you will join Derek for this workshop to foster appreciation for this fascinating group of birds.
To get an idea of what to expect, see our reports from the 2019 and 2014 workshops in partnership with York County Audubon.