Date: 2/19/18 4:19 pm From: 'Derek Lovitch' via Maine birds <maine-birds...> Subject: [Maine-birds] 14 Dovekies and 9 Thick-billed Murres, York through Wells, 2/19; big nearshore alcid event underway!
A pretty impressive Dovekie/Thick-billed Murre event is currently occurring along the coast of Maine (and south at least to Cape Ann, Massachusetts). With scattered reports of both pelagic species of late, and several reports of multiple murres and Dovekies yesterday, Jeannette and I headed out today to thoroughly survey the "Alcid Coast" of York County, focusing on the hotspots in Ogunquit and York.
We were shocked by the tally, and wondered what a lengthy seawatching stint would have produced. Here's the scoresheet:
DOVEKIES (14 total):
5 (four on water, one fly-by in distance), Marginal Way, Ogunquit.
6 (four on water, 2 flew in and landed from well offshore), The Cliff House.
1 (on water), Short Sands Beach, York
2 (one distant fly-by, one flew in from offshore and landed), The Nubble.
THICK-BILLED MURRES (9 total, all on water)
1, Marginal Way.
4 (included raft of 3), The Cliff House.
1, Short Sands Beach.
1, The Nubble.
2, Moody Point, Wells. One taken from water by Bald Eagle.
Although eating different foods, it was rather surprising that we didn't spot a single Razorbill or Black Guillemot all day!
This was my best "haul" of the rare alcids in several years, so something is up. Factors include offshore food supplies (or lack thereof), nearshore/inshore food supplies, recent storm tracks, pre- and post- storm winds (Saturday night's storm, for example, passed offshore but was not followed by long-duration and strong northwesterlies), and perhaps other factors.
In other words, it's probably worth checking just about any salt water right now. Although predation is frequent when nearshore, it's a good time to be a birder looking for alcids (not to mention a hungry Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, or large gull). Unfortunately, it's also worth looking in wrack lines and other areas where dead things could wash up.
Other highlights today:
1 Brant (FOY), Marginal Way.
74 total Harlequin Ducks
13 distant Scaup sp, The Cliff House.
1 drake Northern Pintail (FOY), Moody Marsh.