YCAS Calendar

We welcome you to join one of our upcoming programs or field trips…

 

The Christmas Bird Counts Are Coming

    Harlequins DH 5196837123_369eef562e_z crop

Beginning on Christmas Day in 1900, the   Audubon Society has been sponsoring Christmas Bird Counts (CBC’s) to help monitor the health and status of bird populations throughout North America.  In that first year, there were 25 count circles with a total of 27 birders.  Now, there are over 2300 count circles each year with over 70,000 birders participating, with the locations stretching from Alaska to South America.

Each year, York County Audubon sponsors two counts.  The Southern York County circle extends from Kittery to Ogunquit, while the Biddeford/Kennebunkport count circle reaches from Kennebunk to Saco.  Each count territory is a geographic circle, carved out into six or more territories.  Each territory has a team that scours it during “count day” looking for all bird species, and recording the numbers seen of each.  It can, at times, be a bit more art than science, as we attempt to count – but not double count – the birds we find. We also have supporters who monitor their home feeders during the day and contribute their totals.  To avoid double counting, we ask them only to report the greatest number of each species that they see at any one time during the day.

At the end of the day (at 5 p.m.), we meet to compile the counts and share highlights.  Once compiled, the counts are forwarded to National Audubon for their master compilation.  Both locally and nationally, the totals are reviewed to assess trends in the populations of all species.  While the totals can vary fairly dramatically year to year due to the weather that happens to grace us on count day, the bigger picture over time can be very informative.

This year, the Southern York County CBC will be held on Monday, December 17th, while the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC will be on Saturday, December 29th.   The Southern YC compilation will be held in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve, while the Bidd/Kport compilation will held at the Church on the Cape in Cape Porpoise.  If you might like to find out about participating in one or both, please contact Monica Grabin at 207-985-3342 or grabin@roadrunner.com for the Southern York County CBC, or Kathy Donahue at 207-967-4102 or kadona11@roadrunner.com for the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC.

Posted in Events

The Christmas Bird Counts Are Coming

    Harlequins DH 5196837123_369eef562e_z crop

Beginning on Christmas Day in 1900, the   Audubon Society has been sponsoring Christmas Bird Counts (CBC’s) to help monitor the health and status of bird populations throughout North America.  In that first year, there were 25 count circles with a total of 27 birders.  Now, there are over 2300 count circles each year with over 70,000 birders participating, with the locations stretching from Alaska to South America.

Each year, York County Audubon sponsors two counts.  The Southern York County circle extends from Kittery to Ogunquit, while the Biddeford/Kennebunkport count circle reaches from Kennebunk to Saco.  Each count territory is a geographic circle, carved out into six or more territories.  Each territory has a team that scours it during “count day” looking for all bird species, and recording the numbers seen of each.  It can, at times, be a bit more art than science, as we attempt to count – but not double count – the birds we find. We also have supporters who monitor their home feeders during the day and contribute their totals.  To avoid double counting, we ask them only to report the greatest number of each species that they see at any one time during the day.

At the end of the day (at 5 p.m.), we meet to compile the counts and share highlights.  Once compiled, the counts are forwarded to National Audubon for their master compilation.  Both locally and nationally, the totals are reviewed to assess trends in the populations of all species.  While the totals can vary fairly dramatically year to year due to the weather that happens to grace us on count day, the bigger picture over time can be very informative.

This year, the Southern York County CBC will be held on Monday, December 18th, while the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC will be on Saturday, December 30th.   The Southern YC compilation will be held in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve, while the Bidd/Kport compilation will held at the Church on the Cape in Cape Porpoise.  If you might like to find out about participating in one or both, please contact Monica Grabin at 207-985-3342 or grabin@roadrunner.com for the Southern York County CBC, or Kathy Donahue at 207-967-4102 or kadona11@roadrunner.com for the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC.

Posted in Events

Shorebird Workshop with Louis Bevier, Monday, August 28th

THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN FULLY BOOKED.  IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO ycas@yorkcountyaudubon.org WITH “WORKSHOP WAITING LIST” AS THE SUBJECT

York County Audubon continues our Workshop series by offering a Shorebird Identification Workshop presented by noted Maine Birder, Louis Bevier. Shorebirds herald the changing seasons by staging and feeding in mixed flocks on our beaches and resting on historical roosting area.  Fortunes Rock Beach and Hills Beach are two of these noted areas. Louis will discuss the beautiful plumage variation of these long-distance migrant flocks.  We will begin to identify specific species within the flocks by size, shape and feeding strategy. Louis will also identify species migratory travel dates from ebird data. Sounds of individual species will also be discussed and listened for on our beach walks.

This workshop will be led by well known Maine birder Louis Bevier.  Since the 1960’s, birds have drawn him to explore most of North and South America, leading to months at sea off Alaska and California, backcountry surveys in the high Sierra, plant and bird expeditions to several countries, and many other adventures.  He has worked as a tour guide for Field Guides, as an editor for The Birds of North America series, as Associate Editor for the journal North American Birds, and serves on the Maine Bird Records Committee.

The presentation part of the workshop will be held at the Biddeford Pool Fire Station located at the corner of Rt 208 and Stone Cliff Rd in Biddeford Pool on August 28, 2017. Two beach walks are planned, one at Hills Beach and the second at Fortunes Rocks. We will meet at Buffleheads Restaurant on Hills Beach at 7:45 a.m. Plan on walking to the Basket Island Sandbar and birding until 9:30. Bring your scope along if you have one. We will then drive to the Biddeford Fire Station for Louis’ presentation and lunch (please bring your lunch). We will conclude the day with a beach walk at South Beach at Fortunes Rocks so that you can check your skill in Shorebird identification. Water shoes are appropriate although we should not get wet as High Tide is not till 4:54 p.m.

Space is limited, and advance registration (via this website) is required.  Please click on the link under “What’s Coming Up” on the right side of this page, then scroll down to find the registration form.  Fee of $10 is payable by cash or check at the workshop.

oystercatcher KJ   Common Tern with fish

American Oystercatcher – photo by Ken Janes. Common Tern with fish – photo by Marie Jordan.

Posted in Events, Workshop

Lost Among the Birds, the Story of a Record-Breaking Big Year – with Neil Hayward – Tuesday, June 20th (Preceded by a brief Annual Meeting)

Boston birder Neil Hayward was having a mid-life crisis. So what did he do? He went birding. This temporary insanity resulted in almost 250,000 miles of travel, taking him to the remote corners of North America. Over the course of one year he got so into birding that he ended up setting what birders refer to as the Big Year record. He spotted and identified an extraordinary 749 species of birds in one year.

neil hayward

Neil wrote his first book, Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year, chronicling his journey from heartbreak to triumph after he entered the 2013 Big Year birding competition – a race to find the most birds in one year. When Sandy Komito (the cheery guy played by Owen Wilson in the movie The Big Year) saw 748 species in 1998, many thought his North American birding record would last forever. In the end, Neil shocked the birding world by breaking the Big Year record previously held by Sandy Komito. Along the way, Neil surprised even himself, finding a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his role in it.

With just days left in 2013, he was tied with the longstanding record of 748 sightings. And then as the deadline approached it happened! Ornithologists and informed birders will be astounded by this amateur birdwatcher’s achievements, but everyone will connect with Neil’s journey—the desire to find oneself and one’s place in the world.  Join us for this outstanding program. This event is free and open to the public. Come early for refreshments and social time.

Posted in Events, Program

Learning Bird Language – a Workshop with Dan Gardoqui – Sunday, June 25th

Slow down and listen to the birds…and they will tell you nature’s secrets.  Birding can be whole lot more than feeding, watching, photographing, keeping life lists, or chasing rarities.  It can also involve knowing what birds are saying. Deep Bird Language requires slowing down and truly listening to the birds.  Dan says “It’s more about quality than quantity.” For the vast majority of human existence, this was a skill we could not afford to ignore.  Once critical to our survival it is now, nearly gone.  Local tracker, naturalist, and birder Dan Gardoqui will give us a peek into the world of Deep Bird Language including tips on how to “re-awaken” this hardwired skill set of awareness.

This workshop will run from 7 am till noon on Sunday, June 25th  and will be held at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust on Gravelly Brook Rd in Kennebunkport.  It will blend field observation and interpretation with some indoor lectures & lessons about the fundamentals and nuances of learning bird language. Participants should dress to be outdoors for a few hours at a time (be prepared for biting insects); bring something to sit on (if you don’t want to sit on the ground); and bring a field notebook, pencil, and binoculars.

Dan is co-founder and Executive Director of White Pine Programs.  He lives in the Agamenticus region, and has been studying naturalist skills, wildlife tracking, bird language & mentoring since 1990. Dan has a M.S. in Natural Resources, is a Certified Wilderness First Responder, Certified Wildlife Tracker, Registered Maine Guide, & served as Science Faculty at Granite State College for over a decade. Through wildlife tracking, Dan has contributed to wildlife studies and served as science editor for the bird language book “What the Robin Knows”   FMI:  http://www.whitepineprograms.org/

Space is limited, and advance registration (via this website) is required.  Please click on the link under “What’s Coming Up” on the right side of this page, then scroll down to find the registration form.  Fee of $10 is payable by cash or check at the workshop.

Dan-Gardoqui What the Robin Knows

Posted in Events, Workshop

From the Arctic to Brazil By Way of the Coast of Maine: The Semipalmated Sandpiper’s Journey – with Shiloh Schulte – Tuesday, May 16th

Shorebirds are showing the most dramatic declines of any group of birds. Species that undertake hemispheric migrations rely on specific habitats and food sources to survive, but these resources are increasingly under threat from human disturbance, habitat loss and degradation, over-harvesting, increasing predation, and climate change.

sandpiper

York County Audubon has notched up its involvement with our shorebirds. We have paid for Piping Plover monitors who help educate the public at our beaches.  Some YCA members are participating in shorebird surveys. We have put on Piping Plover workshops with children in local schools and day camps, have run multiple shorebird focused field trips, and put on a shorebird workshop for birders.

shiloh-schulte-by-m-morehouse1

Kennebunk resident Dr. Shiloh Schulte has been on the forefront of the Manomet Shorebird Recovery Program. He has worked extensively with the American Oystercatcher, a distinctive shorebird which has become the poster child for conservation success. However, the Shorebird Recovery Program is not stopping with the American Oystercatcher.

Dr. Schulte will address work with shorebirds we see more commonly on our beach walks. Semipalmated Sandpipers were once the most widespread and abundant shorebird in the Western Hemisphere. In recent decades their numbers have declined sharply, particularly in the Eastern US and Canada. Dr. Schulte will discuss recent research into why they are declining and how we can help. Can we develop better strategies to protect this declining species? Education is an important step. By attending this program you can be informed on the latest and help spread the word.

The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Please join us.  York County Audubon programs are free and open to all.

Posted in Events, Program

Warbler Workshop with Doug Hitchcox on Saturday, May 13th

Just in time for their spring arrival, Maine Audubon’s Staff Naturalist Doug Hitchcox will hold a workshop to teach you various techniques for identifying the gems of our forest: warblers. We will look at the diversity of the family, keys for identifying each species, and even spend time learning the songs and auditory cues to take your birding tothe next level.  The workshop will be held at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust on Saturday, May 13th.  We’ll meet at KCT at 6:30 am for an early morning bird walk, followed by the workshop itself.  A second walk will follow after lunch (please bring your lunch).

Hooded Warbler DH crop  20131012 1/X Photos of Maine Audubon staff naturalist Doug Hitchcox during the Big Sit in Falmouth, Maine on 10/12/13. FOR/DOUG

An enthusiastic birder, Doug set the Big Year record for Maine birds with 314 species in 2011. In his spare time, he also runs the Maine-birds listserv, serves on the Maine Bird Records Committee and is one of Maine’s eBird reviewers.   (Photo of Doug by M. Kathleen Kelly)

Advance registration (via this website) is required.  Please click on the link under “What’s Coming Up” on the right side of this page, then scroll down to find the registration form.  Fee of $10 is payable by cash or check at the workshop.

Posted in Events, Workshop

Using Birds to Predict the Future of Tidal Marshes – with Brian Olsen – Tuesday, April 18th

At the University of Maine, Dr. Olsen’s research program explores how animals, particularly birds, respond to environmental change.

Tidal marshes blur the transition between land and ocean across great swaths of the Atlantic seaboard of North America.  These estuarine systems act as the nurseries for our fisheries and provide protection from storm surges for our towns and cities.  As an ecosystem with a mix of terrestrial and aquatic characteristics, however, they are also inhabited by species with unique adaptations for survival.

Sea-level rise is already challenging these adaptations, and the outcome for these species, the ecosystem as a whole, and the services they supply our society remains unclear.  This presentation discusses the state of tidal marsh bird populations in the Northeast US, with an eye toward what that can tell us about how our marshes are weathering the rising waters.

The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Please join us.  York County Audubon programs are free and open to all.

 

Brian Olsen 1 Brian Olsen 2

Posted in Events, Program

Saving the Purple Martin – with Dennis Skillman – Tuesday, March 21st

Purple Martins are beloved birds.   They’re known as harbingers of spring, arriving in Maine in mid-April as a most welcome sign of the changing seasons.  They are aerial acrobats known for their great speed and agility in flight, and when approaching their housing, they will dive from the sky at great speeds with their wings tucked.   But their numbers have been dramatically reduced as European Starlings and House Sparrows have successfully competed with them for nesting cavities.  Throughout the Eastern United States, many people have been working to support and strengthen their nesting colonies.

In 2013, Purple Martins were discovered nesting in a small birdhouse in a Hampton, New Hampshire marsh. The following year, a group of Audubon volunteers placed a gourd rack on town land nearby.  Since then, that Martin colony has grown and now serves as a model for York County Audubon to emulate.  Dennis Skillman is a member of Seacoast/New Hampshire Audubon, and has been at the center of their work to expand the colony there. On Tuesday, March 21st, York County Audubon will be delighted to host his program on the success they’ve had, which has yielded a colony filled to capacity with over 40 young fledged. The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Please join us.  York County Audubon programs are free and open to all.

Purple Martins only nest in colonies, and are notoriously finicky about their choice of sites.  A colony on private property in Kennebunk is the only one in Southern Maine.  It’s extremely difficult to establish a new colony, but with the right steps, it has been possible to enrich existing ones.  York County Audubon has been working with the Kennebunk Land Trust and the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge to identify potential local enrichment sites, and with New Hampshire Audubon and the Purple Martin Conservation Association to confirm best practices.

purple-martin-gourd-houses purple-martin-small-house

Posted in Events, Program

Gull ID Workshop with Derek Lovitch – Jan 28-29

THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN FULLY BOOKED.  IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO ycas@yorkcountyaudubon.org WITH “WORKSHOP WAITING LIST” AS THE SUBJECT

This two-part workshop, on Saturday afternoon, Jan 28th and Sunday morning, Jan 29th, will get you started on unraveling the mysteries of gull identification. Actually, most gulls are not very difficult to tell apart, though adult and juveniles of most species look very different. We’re going to give ourselves confidence with identifying the easier plumage’s of our common species, and then tackle the more challenging intermediate plumage’s and the less-common species.  (Please note that this workshop was originally planned for Jan 21st-22nd, but has been changed to the 28th/29th.)

Gull in flight. © Marie Jordan
Ring-billed Gull in flight. Photo by Marie Jordan

Part I of the Workshop on Saturday January 28th will be indoors at the Mather Auditorium of the Wells Reserve at 342 Laudholm Farm Road in Wells will be divided into two sections (you need not be present for both):

1:00 pm-2:30 pm – Beginning Gull Identification. Using Powerpoint and book resources, we’ll start with the basics of gull identification, such as feather topography and aging. We’ll then focus on our most common species: Ring-billed, Herring, Great Black-backed, Laughing, and Bonaparte’s Gulls.

3:00 pm-4:30 pm – Advanced Gull Identification. Now comfortable with the basics, we’ll move on to the uncommon species: Lesser Black-backed, Iceland, Glaucous, and Black-legged Kittiwake. Next up will be the rarities: Little, Black-headed, and yes, even Thayer’s. We’ll touch upon “Megas” such as Mew, Slaty-backed, and Sabine’s, and we’ll discuss hybrids. Finally, we’ll apply what we have learned to tackle and understand some identification quandaries, such as the famous “Westbrook Gull” before we finish up with some photo quizzes to test our new-found knowledge.

Part II: Sunday, January 29th (8:00am – 12:00pm):

We’ll meet in Portland (Back Cove parking lot on Preble Street Ext, opposite the Hannaford’s) to carpool around the area to apply what we have learned. We’ll spend some time with our most common species: Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed, and then seek out Iceland and Glaucous, and perhaps we’ll find something even better!

We hope that you will join Derek for this workshop to foster appreciation for this fascinating group of birds. Derek (with his wife Jeannette) owns and operates Wild Bird Supply in Freeport. He’s the author of “How to Be a Better Birder” and is well respected as one of the premiere birders in Maine and beyond.

York County Audubon is sponsoring this Workshop. We are asking for a $10.00 fee to participate, payable by cash or check at the Saturday session. Space is limited. Please register by signing up on this website by clicking on the event link in the Calendar column to the right, and then scrolling down to the fields for making a reservation.  Weather dates or Workshop updates will be posted on the York County Audubon website and Derek’s Web Page (freeportwildbirdsupply.com/birdingtoursinMaine.asp).

Posted in Events, Workshop