• Ed Jenkins

Maine Birding: Cape Elizabeth

Nick Lund, Michael Tucker and I headed to Cape Elizabeth early Sunday morning for some late November birding.

Arriving at Kettle Cove at 7:30, Nick and I agreed that we had never found any exceptional birds at the site, even though it has a great track record. However, almost immediately after leaving the parking lot we found an orange-crowned warbler moving furtively in the scrub at the head of the small beach to the east. My first in Maine, I was especially appreciative of the subtly patterned greenish-yellow bird. As it moved across the path another similar bird followed and perched in the open, a very late prairie warbler to our surprise. A short walk on the trails behind the beach revealed a golden-crowned kinglet and a flyover snow bunting.

Michael arrived and we enjoyed the seaduck medley, with black, white-winged and surf scoters, common eiders, red-breasted mergansers, and a single long-tailed duck in the bay. Common loons and a black guillemot were also diving among the lobster traps.

Returning to the warbler spot we found a myrtle (yellow-rumped) warbler had joined the group, with song sparrows and house finches. Then, flushed by a beachcomber, a medium-sized passerine flew across and landed in the same general area, revealing itself to be the dickcissel reported the previous day. 25 species observed and a lifer for Michael, we continued on to Two Lights State Park.

Dickcissel. © Nick Lund

The most unusual bird there was a late chipping sparrow which we flushed from the small open area behind the picnic tables, but a large flock of harlequin ducks stole the show, feeding in the surf below the trail. This is a fantastic spot for seaducks and seawatching, especially later in winter when the auks are migrating.

A quick final stop at Grondin Pond did not disappoint. The single snow goose reported on the previous day was still present, grazing on the well-manicured lawn of a local property with over 200 Canada geese. Also on the pond were a pair of American wigeon, and small numbers of greater scaup and ring-necked duck, while Nick picked out a single hooded merganser roosting among many mallard. As a final surprise, Mike called out four late tree swallows which flew overhead inland. Not a bad morning by any account!

Kettle Cove: https://ebird.org/checklist/S61522592

Two Lights State Park: https://ebird.org/checklist/S61522818

Grondin Pond: https://ebird.org/checklist/S61522835

By Ed Jenkins