Deer Isle and Stonington are two island
villages accessible by bridge, hidden along the Maine coast. They are
located on a peninsula just south of Acadia National Park. More lobsters
are landed at the Stonington pier than anywhere else in the United States.
In recent years, these eclectic towns have attracted a community of
artists, drawn by the incomparable natural beauty of the area. It is
the perfect spot to kick off Maine's birding festival season.
This 3-day event combines birding by foot, by boat, and even by plane. Famous for its boat trips, this year, the festival is offering a bird's eye view of Deer Isle from a Cessna 260!
It is a small festival appreciated by beginners, but very attractive to visitors who take advantage of its many boat trips to get offshore and see puffins and Maine's wintering sea ducks. Two trips to Seal Island offer sightings of Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Common Murres, Black Guillemots, and Great Cormorants. Northern Gannets are likely, and other pelagic species have been encountered over the years, including Wilson's storm-petrels, Parasitic Jaegers, and Red-necked Phalaropes. More than twenty species of warblers are seen on the several guided walks on the island's preserves. Kids will enjoy the live owl demo and learning how to check blue bird nesting boxes for signs of new life. The Harbor Cafe, a local favorite, puts on a special birders supper. After tucking away a slice of homemade pie, step next door to the Stonington Town Hall to hear Maine Audubon's Doug Hitchcox talk about birding in Maine.
REGISTRATION Contact Island Heritage Trust (IHT) at 207-348-2455 or email@example.com; or register Friday, May 20, 4:30-6:30 PM at reception and art exhibit "Wings, Waves & Woods" at Pearson Legacy Gallery, 13 Dow Rd, Deer Isle. Registration packets are $35 (boat/plane trips, art workshops and Birder's Supper are additional), and include: bird list, nature preserve info, maps, Island Guide, local coupons, the coveted WWW cap and help support next year's event. Supper tickets purchase one of three entrees, rolls, side dishes, dessert and a drink; tax and gratuity included. For boat trips allow plenty of time for parking and boarding and dress warmly! For bad weather notices and program updates call IHT at 348-2455 or check the Wings, Waves and Woods Facebook page.
FRIDAY, MAY 20
12:30-4 PM Swan's Island
Take a 50-minute boat ride to Swan's Island with Gordon Russell and Jane Rosinski who will lead a walk on Hockamock Head, a town-owned park that includes the Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse, nearly two miles trails and access to two beaches. A spectacular setting. Reservations required and dress warmly for an open boat. $55 Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, 130 Settlement Rd, off Oceanville Rd, Stonington; 348-2455.
2-3 PM Introduction to Birding
IHT's Mike Little offers an intro to binoculars, scopes and guidebooks; also, where and when to find birds, including in the old orchard right outside. Island Heritage Trust, 420 Sunset Rd (Rt 15A), Sunset.
3-4 PM Found Object Sculpture
Peter Beerits demonstrates how he makes bird sculptures from "junk: at his studio located at Nervous Nellie's Jams & Jellies. Using scrap wood and metal, Beerits captures the essence of birdness in unexpected ways. 598 Sunshine Rd, Deer Isle. 348-6182, www.nervousnellies.com
3:30-4:30 PM Nesting Bluebirds/Tree Swallows
Join Bonnie Bochan, Monitoring Volunteer for Downeast Audubon's Bluebird Trail, to "check" the nest boxes at Scott's Landing. Learn about bluebird habits, nesting preferences and how to set up, monitor and care for bird boxes--all you need to know to attract nesting birds to your yard and/or join the volunteer effort to monitor Bluebird Trail boxes on Deer Isle. Great family activity! Scott's Landing, Rte 15, N Deer Isle.
4:30-6:30 PM WWW Registration
Info, registration and supper tickets for Wings, Waves & Woods at Pearson Legacy Gallery, 13 Dow Rd., Deer Isle, or at Island Heritage Trust during business hours. 348-2455. www.islandheritagetrust.org.
5-7 PM "Wings, Waves & Woods" Art Reception
Opening reception for Wings, Waves & Woods exhibit, featuring artwork related to birds and habitat by more than forty artists, including Moon Song, this year's poster image by Paul Trowbridge. Refreshments. Gallery open 11-4 PM Thursday-Saturday. Pearson Legacy Gallery, 13 Dow Rd, Deer Isle. 348-2535; firstname.lastname@example.org
7:30-9 PM Night Serenade
Join Bonnie Bochan for an evening walk listening for Thrushes, Sparrows and other songbirds, the distinctive calls of Spring Peepers and Woodcock that brighten the spring twilight. Bring flashlights, boots and listening ears. 94 Pressey Village Road, Deer Isle.
SATURDAY, MAY 21
6:30-8 AM Settlement Quarry Bird Walk
Tom Bjorkman & Bob Duchesne lead a walk at this scenic, historic granite quarry overlooking Webb Cove. Abundant species in mixed woodland habitats and saltwater marsh. Settlement Quarry Preserve, Oceanville Rd, off Rt 15, Stonington.
7-8:30 AM Scott's Landing Bird Walk
Join Mike & Dawn Little at this 22-acre preserve, perhaps the "hottest" birding spot on Deer Isle. Brushy habitat, hardwood stands and a tidal shore offer diverse birding. Scott's Landing, opposite Causeway Beach, Rt 15, N Deer Isle.
8:30-10 AM Nesting Eagles & Their Neighbors
Local eagle enthusiast Lee Fay provides spotting scopes to view nesting eagles (12th year at this nest!), along with loons, eiders and shore birds. Scott's Landing, Rt 15, N Deer Isle.
9-11 AM Landscaping for Wildlife: Birds and Butterflies
Professional landscapers Bonnie Bochan and Guillermo Diaz, who specialize in bird and butterfly gardens, offer a workshop at their new home where they are landscaping for wildlife. Discuss creating gardens, share resources and also look at native species important for wildlife on the property. 94 Pressey Village Rd. Bring binoculars; carpooling encouraged.
9-12:30 PM Bird's Eye View Flights NEW!
Penobscot Island Air (FAA certified air taxi) offers 20-min flights--wherever you want to go!--in their 5-passenger Cessna 260s. Wings are mounted above windows for excellent visibility. $40pp; call 348-2455 for reservations, scheduled every half hour (or walk-ons with space available); Stonington airfield, Airport Rd, Stonington.
9:30 AM-2:30 PM Pelagics and Puffins
Mike Little guides a trip through the archipelago to remote Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, nesting site for thousands of pelagics: Atlantic puffins, Arctic and common terns, great cormorants, razorbills and murres. We may also spot gannets, Wilson's storm petrels, shearwaters, seals, dolphins and possibly whales en route. While landing is not permitted, there will be ample opportunity for viewing and photographing. $70pp, Reservations required (348-2455) Dress warmly for an open boat on the open ocean. Depart Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, 130 Settlement Rd, off Oceanville Rd, Stonington.
11-11:30 Story Reading by Paul Trowbridge NEW!
Paul Trowbridge reads the delightful story of Scipio the Singing Seagull, a collaboration with his daughter Marisol. Thirty-six illustrations, including Moon Song (our featured artwork this year) help tell the story of this Stonington resident and hero. IHT, 420 Sunset Rd (Rte 15A), Sunset. 348-2455.
11:30 AM-12:30 PM Owls of Birdsacre
The staff of the Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary bring some of their owls to the barn at Island Heritage Trust. An unusual opportunity to see these nocturnal creatures up close; learn about the differences between the diminutive Saw-Whet, the dark-eyed Barred and the powerful Great Horned Owl. IHT, 420 Sunset Rd (Rte 15A), Sunset. 348-2455.
1-2:30 PM Thorofare Cruise
Join Capt Garrett Aldrich and Bob Duchesne for a guided cruise around the island-studded Deer Isle Thorofare, including Crotch Island (granite quarry), Mark Island (lighthouse), and several seabird nesting sites. Isle au Haut Boat Company; $35 pp (minimum of 12 needed); free parking and departure at the foot of Seabreeze Ave, Stonington. 348-2455.
2:30-4:30 PM Shore Habitat Walk
Gordon Russell and Jane Rosinski guide a walk down a quiet lane leading to beaches and marsh for a variety of birds, including shore birds on receding tide, such as Greater Yellowlegs and Black-bellied Plover. Also watch for Common Eider and Black Guillemots. Park and meet at Sunset Congregational Church on Route 15A at junction of Dunham Point Rd.
3-4:30 PM Brush Painting Birds
Master brush painter Frederica Marshall teaches simple watercolor and brush techniques at her gallery-based classroom. Suitable for all ages; materials provided. $45; call 348-2782 to register; www.fredericamarshall.com.
5-7 PM Birder's Supper at Harbor Cafe
Must be seated by 6 PM for this special supper at the island's popular year-round cafe. Supper tickets for prime rib, stuffed haddock or vegetarian lasagna are required; $22, inc tax/gratuity available at 348-2455 or email@example.com; Limited seating with walk-ins on a seat-available basis; 32 Main St, Stonington. After that last bit of homemade pie, stroll next door to the Town Hall for Doug Hitchcox's slide show and talk.
7-8:30 PM State of the Birds
Bird populations in Maine are constantly changing. A total of 448 species have been recorded in the state. Some have been here for a long time while others are fairly new. Some are accidental and others introduced. A few of those species have been extirpated and we may never see again. Doug Hitchcox will explain some of the major changes and fluctuations occurring with Maine avian fauna. Stonington Town Hall, second floor. Suggested donation of $5; Handicap access at back of building.
SUNDAY, MAY 22
6:30-8 AM Mariners Park Bird Walk
Join Mike & Dawn Little for a shoreline meadow walk, skirting a small marsh. Open, shrubby and wooded habitat filled with warblers and other songbirds. Shorebirds and ducks also possible. Mariners Memorial Park, Morey Farm Rd (off Sunshine Rd, just east of junction of Rt 15), Deer Isle.
7-9 AM East Side Bird Walk
Join Bob Duchesne & Gordon Russell to explore a private property that includes meadow, woods, fresh water and shore. Such diverse habitats promise some great birding! From Route 15 in N. Deer Isle, turn onto Gilmore Lane (about .3 miles north of The Galley and high school). Follow signs to bird walk parking.
9:30-1 PM Birding by Kayak NEW!
Join wildlife ecologist and Registered Maine Guide, Zach Holderby, for a morning of gentle paddling along the shore and to nearby islands looking for birds and other wildlife. $70pp, includes tandem kayak. Bring lunch and sun protection. Depart Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, 130 Settlement Rd, off Oceanville Rd, Stonington.
9:30-11 AM Habits and Habitat
Join naturalists Ken & Marnie Crowell for a walk at Scott's Landing. Learning species by habitat helps make sure you are looking at the right place at the right time for our flora and fauna, migrant and resident. This gentle walk is perfect for seniors, families and beginners. Scott's Landing, Rte 15, N Deer Isle.
10-12:30 PM Needle-Felted Chickadee Workshop NEW!
Learn how to "make-and-take" your own needle-felted Maine state bird. All materials and instruction provided to create a life-size chickadee using wool roving and very simple techniques. Absolutely no experience is necessary--no sewing is involved! Donations to IHT welcome. Adelaide's Workshop, 2nd floor of old school building at 43 School Street, Stonington. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
10-11 AM Birding for Kids
Come see who is visiting Mariners Park in May, some to build nests, some just passing through. Join Mike & Dawn Little on a quest to see and hear as many birds as possible. Bring binoculars or borrow one of our lending pairs. Ideal for age six and up. Mariners Park, Morey Farm Rd (off Sunshine Rd, just east of junction of Rt 15), Deer Isle.
10 AM - 3 PM Puffins & Pelagics
Join Bob and Sandi Duchesne on the Isle au Haut Company ferry for a trip through the archipelago to remote Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge; see Saturday description. Reservations required. $70 pp; free parking and departure at the foot of Seabreeze Ave, Stonington. 348-2455.