|These gents nearly freezed on the slippery causeway out to the lighthouse. They did not have the proper winter gear on for this trek.|
|Blue Jays. These are NEVER easy birds to photograph BUT in the winter, out of desperation, they will come to the feeders in the masses and feed!|
|Another tricky bird to photograph, the Tufted Titmouse, finally stays put for a decent shot!|
|hen Common Eiders are common in harbors and along the coastal waters|
Before I get to those questions though, I want to tell you how eerie the weather was. The supermoon caused severe tidal damage to the coastal towns. The ocean had steam rising from it which the locals call "Sea Smoke". I've seen this on Lake Michigan BUT it causes fog. This was dark matter that just fuzzed above the ocean. It created issues for our scope.
|Sea Smoke is dramatic and beautiful......it's also very rare. Gulls huddle together to stay warm.|
Even poor Coda below had issues using the bathroom outside! She quickly did her business and rushed back inside the house.
So back to the questions posed about winter birds. How do they survive? Well, the waterfowl, like ducks and geese, huddle in masses along the shorelines. Smaller birds feed early, and often, as the morning warms up. But they don't feed for long. They will disappear into the thick vegetation to protect their bodies from the brutal winds. Daylight was limited which gave us a small window to do our work. They need to eat A LOT to keep their bodies warm! Winter berries are very important for birds like waxwings and thrushes.
We could only endure 20-30 minutes at a time. These birds are tough! So where should birders focus their energies on these outings? Bird feeders, landfills, the open waters of rivers and harbors AND at the very rocky tips of the peninsulas where many ocean birds can be seen up close OR in the distance with a scope.
I marveled at the Mainers. They are tough people who endure some of the harshest climates in this country. During our time there, a clammer went missing in the rough waters and people had to be rescued from the dangerous freezing temps. At one point, during a birding mission on a causeway, we found a woman and her dog stranded in the middle of nowhere. We took her to a local gas station because she didn't have a cell phone on her. It was a truly fascinating experience!
I had wanted to see Kathie and Gus who I haven't seen in over a year. We usually try to meet up somewhere in the country and bird. It was my turn to visit Maine. It really is a beautiful state and a must see for people who'd like a true US cultural experience. The food, the landscape, the wildlife and the people really make Maine a unique experience.
|The Snowy Owl peers above the lobster traps in the center of the island|
My last bird for the year was a Snowy Owl at Biddeford Pools. I should write BITTERford pools. It was bitter cold! My fingers almost fell off! Anyhow, we were on a mission to find new bird species and revisit old ones. I'll explore those places in my Birding Maine series this month. Happy New Year everyone!