Gull ID Workshop with Derek Lovitch – Jan 28-29


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 (

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Video of Lake Baikal program now available

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For anyone who missed Lena Moser’s wonderful YCA October presentation on her trip to Lake Baikal, it’s now available for your viewing! Special thanks to Saco River Community Television for recording it and making it available in such high quality. And special thanks to Lena for such an exceptional presentation. Just click this link:

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Video of Doug Tallamy program

Tallamy - Chickadee Tallamy

For anyone who missed Doug Tallamy’s great program “Bringing Nature Home” at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Juen, a video of it can be viewed here:

Special thanks to Saco River Community Television for recording it and making it available in such high quality.

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The Outlook in Augusta: a Legislative Update with Jennifer Burns Gray – Tuesday, November 15th

What will be happening in the Maine Legislature after the November election?  How will environmental concerns fare in Augusta next year?  What’s the outlook for advancing solar and other alternative energy sources in Maine, and for protecting Maine’s forests, waterways and wildlife?

Jennifer Burns Gray has been Maine Audubon’s staff attorney and advocate since 1997 where she has served on an assortment of commissions and committees.  She has been extensively involved in the legislative process.  She will talk about the upcoming 128th Maine Legislative session and what’s likely to be high on Maine Audubon’s priority list of issues.

Jenn holds a B.A. from Trinity College in CT, where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in American Government. She received her J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law in 1996.

York County Audubon programs are held at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve.  There’s no charge and all are welcome!  No reservations required.

JGray headshot

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The Christmas Bird Counts Are Coming

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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 19th, while the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC will be on Monday, January 2nd (which will be the legal holiday this year for New Year’s Day).   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 Pat Moynahan at 207-284-5487 or for the Southern York County CBC, or Kathy Donahue at 207-967-4102 or for the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC.

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Lake Baikal—Beautiful Birds, Bad Beer, and Buddhist Babushkas – with Lena Moser – Tuesday, October 18th

Lake Baikal, also called the “pearl of Siberia,” is a truly astonishing place.  It is Earth’s deepest lake, holding a fifth of the world’s fresh water.  At 25-30 million years old, it is also one of the most ancient geographical features on the planet.  Perhaps this is why the lake’s water alone is home to 1,500 plant and animal species, 80% of which are found nowhere else on Earth!

Diverse habitats around Lake Baikal—from expansive shorelines and mountain ranges to taiga forests and steppe meadows—attract numerous birds.  Some sought-after species include Siberian Blue Robin, Daurian Jackdaw, Amur Falcon, Siberian Thrush, Booted Eagle, and the endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting and Swan Goose.  Mammals such as Long-tailed Ground Squirrel, Siberian Chipmunk, and the endemic Baikal Seal are also a treat to see.  And, of course, no trip to Siberia is complete without its human highlights, as culture, cuisine, and comedy weave themselves into a rich tapestry of local tradition.

This July, YCA board member Lena Moser co-led a birding tour to Lake Baikal with Wildside Nature Tours.  Join Lena for an entertaining evening of photographs and stories as she recounts her journey to the remarkable region.

York County Audubon programs are held at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve.  There’s no charge and all are welcome!  No reservations required.

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Myths and Truths about Bats – Bat Conservation and Biology – Tuesday, September 20th

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There are more than 1,300 known species of bats, comprising nearly a quarter of all mammal species on earth.  These unique creatures are at the center of some of today’s most pressing ecological issues, yet are still held in fear by some, and misunderstood by many. Old wives’ tales and folklore, such as that bats suck blood, get into your hair, or they are blind, are in need of an update.  Our September program:  Myths and Truths about Bats – Bat Conservation and Biology presented by David Bates.

BRI - David-Yates

David Yates is the Mammal Program Director at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland.  Since its inception, David Yates has been a wildlife biologist at BRI, doing research on our bats and other mammals.  He will share his extensive knowledge of bats’ role in the ecosystem, their habits, and the latest science about their health and future, as well as answer all your bat-ty questions.  Join York County Audubon in learning about these fascinating and important members of our wildlife community.

York County Audubon programs are held at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve.  There’s no charge and all are welcome!  No reservations required.

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Sept 16, 2014 Program: All about Bluebirds

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  • Program to be presented in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm
  • Come early to socialize
  • Come earlier to sit in on the Board Meeting
  • Program is free and open to the public, and starts at 7 p.m.

John Rogers has maintained a trail of bluebird nest boxes for 4 decades and has fledged over 13,000 Bluebirds in boxes he personally monitors.  His presentation includes the life history of the Eastern Bluebird, other birds that nest in Bluebird boxes, and nest box management. The focus is on Bluebirds, but John also shares his passion for the natural world.  The program has variety, feeling, and is thought provoking.  With beautiful photographs, sounds, and an enthusiastic presentation style, this program is of interest to anyone who appreciates nature.


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Get Out and Bird!

Join York County Audubon birders for 7 a.m. bird walks…

  • 5-14 Wednesday: Rotary park, 550 Main Street, Biddeford
  • 5-15 Thursday: Laurel Hill Cemetery, Beach Street (Route 9), Saco.
  • 5-24 Saturday: Hattie’s 109 Mile Stretch Rd, Biddeford Pool
Posted in Events

Field Trip: Hills Beach

Join Doug Hitchcox for a shorebird extravaganza.  Meet and park at Buffleheads restaurant at 122 Hills Beach Road in Biddeford

Contact: Doug 207-671-0185.


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