Bird Highlights and Trip Details
On our first day, we will meet at Boston Logan International Airport and drive about 2.5 hours to Provincetown (on the tip of Cape Cod) while getting our first taste of New England birding on the way. We will spend our first two nights in Provincetown and will have the late afternoon and evening to spend exploring the historic area known for its artists, poets, writers, and rich cultural atmosphere.
On Cape Cod, we will find fresh seafood, world-class whale watching, and stunning beaches. Our first morning will be spent enjoying the wide sandy beaches of Cape Cod National Seashore, looking for a variety of gulls such as Lesser Black-backed, and terns including with good fortune, a lingering Roseate Tern or Black Tern, and shorebirds. In the afternoon, we will board one of the large, stable whale-watching vessels to hopefully enjoy cavorting Humpback Whales and a variety of seabirds, including jaegers, with luck including Long-tailed and Great, Manx, Sooty, and Cory’s Shearwater.
We will start the next morning off with several more hours of birding the Cape, hoping specifically for Hudsonian Godwit and Black-billed Cuckoo. Then head off the Cape with our sights set on Plum Island, MA, and the famous Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. This is one of the best places on the east coast to view shorebirds, and we will take our fill!
We will look specifically for White-rumped Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, and again for Hudsonian Godwit. While not expected, Parker River has hosted a number of rare shorebirds over the years, so fingers crossed for something like a Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, or Red-necked Stint. We will also look at shorebirds to gain greater knowledge of their identification. Focusing on comparing Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and the challenging small sandpipers. We will also attempt to connect with Seaside Sparrow here. We will then skip over the border to southern Maine and spend the night in the Portland area (the other Portland!).
The morning will be spent birding the marshes and beaches of Scarborough/Biddeford, Maine. Our targets will be Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows, as the two species overlap in this area, a variety of shorebirds and wading birds including Tricolored Heron and Glossy Ibis. If the weather conditions are right, we may experience a warbler fallout in this location in which case we will switch our focus to maximize that experience. In the afternoon, we will wind our way through scenic southern Maine, where there is a postcard view around every corner, all the way to the famous resort town of Bar Harbor, the gateway to Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island. From lobster to stunning views of the rugged Atlantic Coast, Bar Harbor will not disappoint.
The early risers will experience sunrise from atop Cadillac Mountain, the first place the sun touches in the United States. The morning will be spent looking for warblers and a variety of eastern birds. In the afternoon, we will join Bar Harbor Whale Watch on the fastest, most stable pelagic boat in the country to venture into the Gulf of Maine. Here we will seek out more seabirds with our fingers crossed for South Polar Skua or, with great luck and piousness, Great Skua. There will be opportunities for Great Cormorant, Arctic Tern, Common Eider, Northern Gannet, as well as jaegers and shearwaters.
The following day we will meander our way south, ultimately arriving in the historic city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the evening. On our way, we will attempt to fill in any species we are missing while also enjoying a quick tour of one of the most scenic drives in the Lower 48 through the Schoodic Peninsula of rocky granite shoreline and glacier-carved granite cliffs.
The next morning we will take one more run through the bounty of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge before heading to Boston to end the tour. For those so inclined, Boston offers as much history and culture as one wishes, and taking a few days to explore the city, from the Boston Common to Fenway Park, is recommended.