A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Maine in Fall: Seabirds & Coastal Migrants 2022

September 8-17, 2022 with Eric Hynes guiding

Throughout this tour, I kept saying that one of you must have a lucky rabbit's foot in your pocket. Everything seemed to fall into place for us on the 2022 run of Maine in Fall with Field Guides. The hurricane stayed far enough out in the Atlantic Ocean to not impact the pelagic trip, it was warm and sunny for most of the tour, we got NW winds overnight while we were out on Monhegan Island and many exciting species allowed excellent looks. Most important to me as the guide was how wonderful you all were to each other and what a pleasure it was for me to go birding with you -- thanks!

The tour began in the southern coastal area and we enjoyed some exciting salt marsh, mud flat and beach birding. Species highlighting our visit to Scarborough Marsh, Pine Point and Biddeford Pool included: a handsome juvenile Baird's Sandpiper, a molting adult White-rumped Sandpiper, crisp juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers, a curious hybrid wader presumed to be a Snowy Egret x Tricolored Heron, our first of many Merlins, plus Saltmarsh and Nelson's sparrows.

Our time based out of Bar Harbor was particularly rewarding. This year's Maine Audubon pelagic was one of the best anyone could remember. Red-necked Phalaropes were sprinkled across the surface, there was a clean sweep of the four Alcids including Atlantic Puffin, dozens of Pomarine Jaegers were around, plus a Parasitic, Great Shearwaters by the thousands with a fair amount of Sooty Shearwaters mixed in and several unexpected Cory's Shearwaters. Did I mention the ten South Polar Skuas?! Our boat cruise on Passamaquoddy Bay was spectacular in its own right. We had excellent looks at Great Cormorants right from the start. Old Sow was really churning -- "piglets" and upwellings all over the place. Bald Eagles were cooperative and we picked through Bonaparte's Gulls by the hundreds. Eventually we came upon an adult Little Gull that gratefully held its perch on a rock. We spotted several Black-legged Kittiwakes on the rocks below East Quoddy Lighthouse. Motoring back in turned up point blank Common Loon, Gray Seals, Razorbills and Common Murres. Acadia National Park offered stunning landscapes and a variety of bird species but it is hard to remember any of them except the abundance of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Red Crossbills. Clearly, both species are irrupting into Maine this fall.

The final leg of our journey was spent on the enchanting Monhegan Island. While the vegetation held a number of songbird species, it was the raptors overhead that kept drawing our attention. Merlin ended up the bird of the tour thanks to the countless dramatic sightings of birds in flight and perched.

One final morning at Scarborough Marsh cleaned up Nelson's and Saltmarsh sparrows for some people and we added Bobolink, Pectoral Sandpiper and Spotted Sandpiper to the list.

Thanks again for choosing Field Guides and I hope to bird with all of you again, sooner than later!



—Eric Hynes

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)

More days than not

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)

The ponds behind the MDI high school remain a reliable spot to find this handsome duck

AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)

An early arriving migrant was at Great Pond in Biddeford Pool

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)

More days than not


A regional specialty that we saw well on multiple occasions

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)

Also at MDI high school ponds

COMMON EIDER (DRESSER'S) (Somateria mollissima dresseri)

The drakes are out to sea or still in eclipse plumage

SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata)

Harold did a great job of IDing these diving ducks way out during our picnic lunch on the Lubec Flats

HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Got lucky in a tidal river on our drive back from Eastport

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)

Their population has really exploded in the last decade; we saw flocks daily on the mainland

RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) [I]

Conspicuous on Monhegan

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

RED-NECKED GREBE (Podiceps grisegena)

Just a couple individuals; Carol found the first one

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]


MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Best looks were on Monhegan

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)

Just one in its characteristic erratic flight as we drove back from Eastport

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)

Most have migrated south by the time we run this tour

Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus)

A rare breeder in Maine, one was standing atop the ledge at the south end of Egg Rock as we motored out of Frenchmans Bay

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Great scope views of molting adults at Pine Point

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

One of the more common fall shorebird migrants on the coast of Maine

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Carol did a great job of spotting this species high overhead while we were down at Lobster Cove our last morning on Monhegan

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

Excellent looks on the beach at Biddeford Pool

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

Numerous on Biddeford Pool Beach

BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (Calidris bairdii)

This species is few and far between in Maine during fall migration. We had a wonderful study of a dapper juvenile at Biddeford Pool Beach

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Good looks at Biddeford Pool Beach

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (Calidris fuscicollis)

Another birder helped us get onto an adult mixed in with a lot of Semipalmated Sandpipers

PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)

Heard calling as it flew overhead while we walked out the Eastern Road Trail across Scarborough Marsh; eventually it settled down into a salt panne for scope views in the distance


The default sandpiper in Maine in fall migration; predominately juveniles at this date

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

Beautiful looks at juveniles at Dunstan Landing

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus)

Multiple good looks during the Maine Audubon pelagic

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

We didn't clean up this species until the last morning at Scarborough Marsh

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)


LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Less conspicuous during our tour than the previous species

Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)

SOUTH POLAR SKUA (Stercorarius maccormicki)

What an incredible pelagic for this elusive species -- we saw about a dozen and a number of them really well!

POMARINE JAEGER (Stercorarius pomarinus)

We had incredible luck on the Maine Audubon pelagic -- dozens of them in all sorts of different plumages

PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus)

One was picked out among its larger cousins

Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)

COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge)

Good looks at non-breeding plumage during both boat trips

RAZORBILL (Alca torda)

They appear to actually have a tail compared to the previous species

BLACK GUILLEMOT (Cepphus grylle)

The most coastal Alcid

ATLANTIC PUFFIN (Fratercula arctica)

An iconic Maine species; seen well multiple times during the Maine Audubon pelagic

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)


We got up close to several on the rocks at East Quoddy Head

BONAPARTE'S GULL (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)

By the hundreds

LITTLE GULL (Hydrocoloeus minutus)

What a treat to study this rarity so well during our boat cruise on Passamaquoddy Bay

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

The dark hood is gone on this species by September

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)


HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)



This rarity isn't so rare anymore


By far the most memorable one was the juvenile that needed a lot of help untangling all that fishing line. I hope it recovered.

COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo)

Good looks on multiple occasions

ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea)

Most have left the breeding colonies by the time we run the tour but we caught up to several during the Maine Audubon pelagic, including a crisp juvenile that stayed in the wake for several moments as we returned to Frenchman Bay

Gaviidae (Loons)

COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)

The calling bird(s) at Long Pond was unforgettable but don't forget the unbelievable look we enjoyed at Head Harbor Passage

Oceanitidae (Southern Storm-Petrels)

WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus)

So many great looks at these pelagic wanderers

Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)

NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis)

All the birds we saw during the pelagic out of Bar Harbor were in heavy flight feather molt

CORY'S SHEARWATER (Calonectris diomedea)

In the 23 years that Maine Audubon has been running this trip, this species has only been recorded a couple of times and the previous high count was just one. A species typically in warmer waters, the fact that we saw several is an indication of climate change.

GREAT SHEARWATER (Ardenna gravis)

Seeing thousands so well was a real treat

SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea)

It seemed like every time we encountered a large flock of Great Shearwaters, we were able to tease out a few Sooty Shearwaters

Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)

NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus)

These dynamic seabirds are always such a thrill to watch

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Outstanding looks at this behemoth during our Passamaquoddy Bay cruise

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

Large concentrations in a few places

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

The "pink one" overhead at sunrise on Monhegan was memorable

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Several conspicuous concentrations around Scarborough Marsh

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Less numerous than the previous species. We also saw the curious Snowy Egret x Tricolored Heron hybrid behind the Pelreco Building.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Masters of soaring

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Seen in good numbers but many had already begun their fall migration

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

Best looks were on Monhegan

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

The aerial performance at Lobster Cove was entertaining

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

Most were spotted while driving

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

It is wonderful to see how much this species has recovered

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (Buteo lineatus)

This species is few and far between in Maine so it was a real surprise to spot an adult perched roadside on our drive to Bar Harbor. Unfortunately, it was not in a very good spot to pull over for a better view.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

The most frequently sighted raptor while we were on the mainland

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

A few here and there

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

Their loud chatter really grabs your attention

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


The group finally caught up to one during the gull rescue

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

Several individuals seemed oblivious to our presence

HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

They are not asking, they are telling when they call. Our first good look was at Sieur de Monts Spring

PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)

What a dramatic beast; exciting enough to merit turning around, though we saw plenty by the end

NORTHERN FLICKER (YELLOW-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus luteus)

A conspicuous migration was underway while we were on Monhegan

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

Not nearly as aggressive as the next species

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

Voted the bird of the tour thanks to the countless good looks while on Monhegan: perched, chasing prey, chasing each other, harassing larger raptors...the works

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

Surprised it took us to the last morning on Monhegan to catch up to this amazing predator

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)

Several good looks on Monhegan

EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)

Just a few

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)

We enjoyed a good look on our hike back from White Head

RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)

Plenty of good looks but not as numerous as I usually expect to see

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

A striking Corvid

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Quite a few along the way

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

Few and far between along the coast compared to the previous species; most encounters were on MDI

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus)

The state bird

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

Several large swarms along the southern coast

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

A few still around; most had already headed south

Regulidae (Kinglets)


Heard more than seen

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

Wow - quite an irruption underway! The concentrations on MDI were remarkable. The chorus of their little, nasal "yanks" was a welcomed soundtrack throughout

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (EASTERN) (Sitta carolinensis carolinensis)

It will be interesting to see if the birds in eastern North America get split from the noticeably different-sounding birds in the West

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)

We had to work for this one. Eventually, we scored a really good but neck-straining look on the Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Their ringing song is so distinctive

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]


Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)

A few here and there

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Along the southern coast

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus)

Good looks along the Valley Cove Trail in Acadia National Park

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Only a few here and there

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Walk-away looks at lots of birds on Monhegan

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]


Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)

Thanks for noticing those two foraging in the parking lot at Mount Desert Island High School, Charlie!

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Only at the beginning of the tour

PURPLE FINCH (Haemorhous purpureus)

Lots of "ticking" could be heard overhead

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

Wow - I never expected to encounter such a conspicuous irruption! We heard them overhead almost constantly on MDI and savored good scope views eventually


Nearly an every day species

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

Just one juvenile on Monhegan was a surprise; usually more migrants are around by then

DARK-EYED JUNCO (SLATE-COLORED) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis)

Seen well on the Valley Cove Trail

WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Zonotrichia albicollis)

Materialized in the community garden right in front of us on Monhegan

NELSON'S SPARROW (ATLANTIC COAST) (Ammospiza nelsoni subvirgata)

A couple of birds held their perch in the Spartina at the beginning of the tour but were quite obstructed by vegetation. The looks during our last stop (literally) of the tour were way more satisfying

SALTMARSH SPARROW (Ammospiza caudacuta caudacuta)

This crisper plumaged cousin to the previous species showed very well for us at Dunstan Landing the last morning

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

Seen well near the beach in Biddeford

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)

Most days

SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana)

A few birds were still on their breeding grounds at Sieur de Monts Spring

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

An individual was giving its "pink" call overhead while we were walking the Eastern Road Trail

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

The seemingly endless wave of them pouring out of the horse chestnut tree was thrilling

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

A few arrived on Monhegan our last morning out there

COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)

Dozens on Monhegan

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Excellent looks at the Ice Pond


Carol got us on to the most cooperative individual

MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia)

Perhaps the least-expected species we encountered during the Maine Audubon pelagic -- remember that one that flew around the boat several times, bouncing off the pilot house window once

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

Plenty of good looks

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

More days than not

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

The Lobster Cove birds were so cooperative

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

Good looks on Monhegan


A brief view by some

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

The Biddeford Pool Beach bird seemed indifferent to our presence

BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)

One of the more confusing fall warblers

PALM WARBLER (WESTERN) (Setophaga palmarum palmarum)

Their bright yellow undertail coverts contrast with their dull chests

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)



Good looks on Monhegan

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Best looks on Monhegan

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Only a couple good looks on Monhegan

DICKCISSEL (Spiza americana)

Several birds were found on Monhegan but none were as cooperative as the streaky juvenile in the community garden


SHORT-TAILED SHREW (Blarina brevicauda)

We don't typically add a tiny mammal to the trip list while still in the van but this hyperactive insectivore was very busy in the parking lot at Biddeford Pool Beach


EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)

RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

MUSKRAT (Ondatra zibethica)

Nancy noticed one nibbling some vegetation in the back of the community garden on Monhegan

HARBOR PORPOISE (Phocoena phocoena)

Our best looks were in Passamaquoddy Bay

COMMON MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

"Stumpy" has been returning to Passamaquoddy Bay for more than a decade

HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)

"Seadog" - we saw lots of these charismatic creatures

GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus)

"Horse head" - The larger seal with the elongated snout. We saw several well during our Passamaquoddy Bay cruise

WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus)

Several seen on multiple days

Other Creatures of Interest


We enjoyed an excellent view of this marvelously bizarre creature as it basked near the surface during the Maine Audubon pelagic

Totals for the tour: 134 bird taxa and 10 mammal taxa