Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I'm taking a short break from the MAYNE RAYGE coverage, as I'm going out of town again shortly and don't have the time to commit fully for a Maine post. We will pick back up in a week or so, but until then I'm going to squeeze out a quick post of random things seen here over the last few months.

I could not find a Least Grebe last December during the second Taken For Granted Challenge. This bird has recently turned up at the Triangle Pond, a spot that used to be reliable for them.
For a short period of time each year, Dickcissels are highly abundant here. This bird was seen during that time.
Magnolia Warbler at the Capitol Grounds, a spot that nobody ever birds except during migration.
I found a spot that offers significant Common Nighthawk crushing opportunities.
A Cattle Egret with purple lores is a Cattle Egret that will be getting laid soon.
Cattle Egret has a great affinity for udders.
Blotched Water Snake
And, a Texas Rat Snake.

So, that's it for today. I'll see you nerds on the other side of many casseroles and hopefully many Bobolinks.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

MAYNE RAYGE: Part Three - Machias Seal Island (Quintessential, For Say)

Maine coverage continues today with the crushiest segment of the trip, Machias Seal Island. After holing up at The Edge in Lubec for a few days waiting for the seas to settle down, we were finally able to saddle up on the Barbara Frost out of Cutler, led by the chatty cappy Andy and his first mate, Tyler.

We were joined on the boat by about 25 other nerds, many of whom were on a photography tour led by a loud man from Massachusetts who was very serious about f/stops. As fortunate as we were that the boat was even going out the the island, it was not guaranteed that we would be able to land and make use of the blinds to crush alcids. As we neared the island, we started to get our first looks at Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills as they flew by us, cutting through the heavy fog and disappearing just as quickly. Pulling up to our stopping point just off the island, we saw hundreds of Arctic Terns (although, we were informed that Arctic and Common Terns cannot be confidently identified and separated from each other visually). We waited for Cap'n Andy to survey the landing situation and were shortly given the go ahead to load into the dinghy to land on the island.

Once all the nerds were safely on the island and in a nice, single file line, we were marched to a holding pen and guarded by the intimidating lighthouse keeper, Ralph. Broken into two groups and placed in the second, your four heroes remained in the holding pen to photograph Arctic Terns and bide our time. After about 45 minutes, the first group of khaki clad deviants returned and we sauntered to the blinds for our turn. After a little finagling, we ensured that the four of us would be able to share a blind, so as to have the opportunity to even up on all the HJ's we owed each other in privacy. And then we crushed.

The Holding Pen

There's not much more to say about crushing alcids on Machias Seal Island. When the carnage was complete, we were marched back to the boat where Cap'n Andy proceeded to harass Common Murres and Harbor Seals. It was kind of fucked. 

There were several bridled Common Murres mixed in, as evidenced by the white eye ring and racing stripe.

And that was Machias Seal. It was quintessential that we see these birds, for say. More MAYNE RAYGE coverage to come. Stay tuned, nerds.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

MAYNE RAYGE: Part Two - Belly Flopping

A Razorbill belly flops with great force and vigor. Try as we might, most people are simply not able to belly flop so powerfully and gracefully. There are, however, a few exceptions.

And here we are again, back to Maine. By now, you have probably already seen a bit of MAYNE RAYGE coverage from Flycatcher Jen, Seagull Steve, and Dipper Dan. These posts may be confusing or puzzling to you, but don't worry about these matters. When four people of such a high nerd and rage quotient gather together, things will happen, and those things are best left undefined. Our last post here was focused on "Browning Around." Today's post will focus on "Belly Flopping." Don't ask. Just dig.

These Razorbills were seen on our boat near Machias Seal Island. They obviously showed exceptionally well, which is fortunate as our other looks were distant and mired by fog.

Flycatcher Jen demonstrated her unique knack for spotting fly-by Razorbills from high on the rocks at West Quoddy Head State Park. It was quite impressive as she kept calling them out, one by one, as three dudes tried to keep up.

Also photographed from the Machias Seal Island boat, Atlantic Puffins were quite heavily outnumbered by Razorbills, which apparently led to great distress among some of the khaki-clad nerds. In my opinion, there were many other things they should have been distressed about.

The Scote Train flies past at Pine Point Jetty; this is just a small sample of the several hundred strong flock of White-winged Scoters that kept reappearing over the beach.

Not a new bird to this blog my any means, Tree Swallows were confiding and I love Tree Swallows. This one was transitioning to a sleek belly flop.

Ah, here we go. This was a top 3 target bird for most of us. Roseate Tern was neither abundant nor particularly confiding. Two or three individuals presented the best looks as they flew past the Pine Point Jetty.

I really studied terns hard on the flight, but when we started seeing our first Roseates, they were pretty fucking apparent.
Least Terns were nesting at a few of the beaches we birded; this banded individual was seen at Pine Point Jetty. (Seriously, if you bird Maine, bird Pine Point Jetty.)
I was the only one who still needed Arctic Tern, and they were just about the only tern at Machias Seal Island.
These birds nest on the island, and we were instructed to keep our heads down so as not to step on Arctic Tern eggs by an intimidating light house keeper named Ralph. Ralph wasn't fucking around.

And that was belly flopping in Maine. Stay tuned for more coverage.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

MAYNE RAYGE: Part One - Browning Around

It has happened. Did you feel it? I sure as fuck did. MAYNE RAYGE.

This is an Atlantic Puffin. It knows all it can know about browning around. No more knowledge can be gained by this bird.
That's right. For eleven glorious days four bird bloggers, the most horrific of combinations, joined forces to create a synergistic effect not only as it pertains to finding and crushing birds, but also to raging on whiskey and craft beer, taking embarrassing videos of each other doing embarrassing things, and, of course, browning around. This is just a small part of the experience shared with the incomparable Flycatcher Jen, Seagull Steve, and Dipper Dan.

A little known fact about Prairie Warblers is their need of toilet paper for nest construction. You show me used toilet paper and I will show you Prairie Warblers.
Spruce Grouse has many things going on, from the blinding red comb to the intricate black and white pattern adorning its underside.
Still, this is fundamentally a bird that knows much about brown. It will not be denied.

Some things that were learned about Maine:

- The sun rises at 4:30 am. This may make raging difficult for mere birders, but we are bird bloggers. We face the challenge and we conquer.

- Weather is highly variable. From one day to the next, we persevered through blazing heat and high humidity to valiantly standing on top of a mountain as sleet fell upon our plastic crowns.

- Ticks and black flies are real and they are terrorists.

- Outside of Portland food may not be served after 8:00 pm. When food is served, it will often be accompanied by loud people who are adept at producing loud yelling/gurgling/vomiting sounds. It is not appetizing.

- There are not now, nor have there ever been Upland Sandpipers in Maine.

Our most direct descendent to Velociraptors, Common Yellowthroats are known to viciously prey upon hapless odonates.
Common Eider of the female persuasion, a study in the intricacies of browning around.
In Maine, Veery is a bird that rarely sings, and when it does, it sounds like a bag of cats going through a sausage maker. Not pleasing in the least.

This is a first summer Little Gull, as evidenced by the fact that it is a Little Gull and it is not an adult.
It was not the only Little Gull seen on an evening of significant small hooded gull revelry. Found by #7, Seagull Steve himself.
In Maine, mammals are abundant. Moose reportedly outnumber people 3:1 in certain areas of the state, although all that was seen was evidence of their browning around.

Porcupines are highly skilled at awkwardly climbing trees. 
Surprisingly, this mammal was not enthusiastic about being hugged by bird bloggers. 
Harbor Seals are not enthusiastic about being harassed by Cap'n Andy and, to a lesser extent, Tyler. Tyler is not enthusiastic about water. Presumably, water is not enthusiastic about Tyler.
A boy will demonstrate his skill at simultaneously bird tallying on his eBird machine and ensuring good birds will continue by partaking in the 'Yak.
The bird blogosphere is and shall continue to be heavily saturated in Maine coverage for the near future. This blog will be no exception.