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.
FRIDAY, MAY 18
11:00 AM-1:00 PM Natural History at Settlement Quarry
Ann Hooke was the “midwife” for IHT’s first preserve--she knows this place: its geologic, human, cultural and natural history, better perhaps, than anyone else. Join her for an informal walk and discussion, including a BYO picnic lunch at this uber-scenic location. Settlement Quarry, Oceanville Rd, Stonington.
12:00-4:00 PM Swan's Island
Take a 50-minute boat ride to Swan's Island for a guided walk on Hockamock Head, a town-owned park that includes the Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse, nearly two miles of trails and access to two beaches. A spectacular setting. Along the way, look for great blue herons nesting on Eastern Mark Island. Reservations required. (348-2455) Dress warmly for an open boat. $55 Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, 130 Settlement Rd, off Oceanville Rd, Stonington.
2:00-3:00 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 (IHT), 420 Sunset Rd (Rt 15A), Sunset.
2:00-3:00 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.
3:00-5:00 PM WWW Registration and Festival Art Exhibit
Info, registration, art exhibit and supper tickets available at Island Heritage Trust, 420 Sunset Rd (Rt 15A) Sunset.
5:00-7:30 PM Dinner and Birding Talk NEW!
Enjoy this special dinner in the Whale's Rib's dining room overlooking the Mill Pond at historic Pilgrim's Inn, 20 Main St, Deer Isle village. Limited seating with advance tickets only; $26, inc tax/gratuity (bar drinks extra) Meat, seafood and vegetarian options. Must be seated by 5:30 PM for this special supper. After dessert, professional birding guide and author, Bob Duchesne, demystifies “Birding by Ear” skills with six simple tips for mentally organizing bird songs. You’ll start the festival surprised at how much you can already identify. To purchase tickets: 348-2455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
8:00-9 PM Night Serenade
Join Bonnie Bochan for an evening walk listening for thrushes, sparrows and other songbirds, and 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 19
7:00-9:00 AM Pressey Village Bird Walk
Bonnie Bochan and Bob Duchesne lead a walk in this mixed habitat neighborhood that has proven to be a hotspot for migrants: Orchard and Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and lots of warblers. 94 Pressey Village Rd, Deer Isle.
7:00-8:30 AM Scott’s Landing Bird Walk
Join Mike & Dawn Little at this 22-acre preserve, a birding favorite. Brushy habitat, hardwood stands and a tidal shore offer diverse species. Scott’s Landing, opposite Causeway Beach, Rt 15, N Deer Isle.
9:00 AM-12:30 PM Bird's Eye View Flights
Penobscot Island Air (FAA certified air taxi) offers 20-min flights--wherever you want to go! Excellent visibility. Scheduled every half hour; no reservation needed; $40pp. Stonington airfield, Airport Rd, Stonington.
9:30-11 AM Bird-friendly Coffee Break at Pilgrim’s Inn
Join fellow birders at Pilgrim’s Inn for bird-friendly coffee/goodies ($5 please) and an informal discussion of sightings made and anticipated; spacious grounds border a mill pond and feature heirloom orchard trees and kitchen gardens: a birder’s delight. 20 Main St, Deer Isle; 348-6615.
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 ocean. Depart Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, 130 Settlement Rd, off Oceanville Rd, Stonington.
11:30 AM-12:30 PM Owls of Birdsacre
The staff of the Birdsacre - Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary in Ellsworth 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 Owl and the powerful Great Horned Owl. IHT, 420 Sunset Rd (Rte 15A), Sunset.
11:30 AM-1:30 PM Drop-in Chowder & Popovers at Rabbit Hill Farm
Rabbit Hill, an Emily Muir designed cottage, boasts expansive views of Rabbit Island and Crocket Cove. Enjoy treetop birding while dining on Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen Clam Chowder, handcrafted organic cider and hot popovers. Birders of all ages are invited to hike to shore, and explore the adjacent Crockett Cove Woods Preserve. The Barbour Farm Road is a dirt road, 1.8 miles beyond Island Heritage Trust heading toward Stonington. Rabbit Hill is at the very end: 1 mile. Parking is limited--be prepared to walk. 148 Barbour Farm Road, Stonington, Maine; 367-5003 for questions.
1:00-2:30 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.
1:30-3:30 PM Shore Acres Walk NEW!
Gordon Russell and Jane Rosinski guide a walk on new trails at IHT’s Shore Acres Preserve in Deer Isle, looking in forest, field and shore habitat for a variety of birds, including warblers, shore birds and sea ducks. Park in Shore Acres parking lot on Greenlaw District Rd., or across the road at the yellow house. Special parking permission granted for WWW weekend only.
4:00-5:00 PM Shorebirds at Reach Beach NEW!
Gordon Russell and Jane Rosinski follow up their walk at Shore Acres with a quick trip to IHT’s Reach Beach on Oak Point Rd. in Deer Isle. Look for Greater Yellowlegs and Black-bellied Plovers in the small marsh and on roosting sites on nearby ledges.
5:00-6:45 PM Birders BBQ NEW!
Join us at Inn on the Harbor on Main St in Stonington for a casual gathering and BBQ on the deck overlooking picturesque Stonington Harbor.
Grilled country-style ribs and chicken with favorite sides and dessert. Vegetarian option also available. Limited seating--advance supper tickets are required; $20, inc tax/gratuity (bar drinks extra) available at 348-2455 or email@example.com.
7:00-8:30 PM The Amazing Lives of Long Distance Migrants What do Eastern Kingbirds, Blackpoll Warblers and Scarlet Tanagers have in common? In this the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act join Bonnie Bochan as we travel to Ecuador to look at the lives of neotropical migrants on their wintering grounds, problems they face, what we can do, and connections made between Maine and Ecuador. Bonnie Bochan has been the principal investigator of birds at the Jatun Sacha Biological Station for 30 years where nearly 600 species of birds occur, including over 50 species of North American migrants. Stonington Town Hall, second floor. Handicap access at rear of building. Suggested donation $5
SUNDAY, MAY 20
7:00-8:30 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.
7:00-9:00 AM West Side Bird Walk
Join Bob Duchesne & Tom Bjorkman 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.
9:00-11:00 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.
10:00 AM-12:30 PM Maine Birds Tote Bag
“Make-and-Take” your own Maine birds tote bag (choose from several bird options) using batik fabrics and simple fusible applique techniques. All materials provided. Suitable for all ages; no experience or sewing necessary! Donations to IHT welcome. Adelaide’s Workshop, 2nd floor of old school building at 43 School Street, Stonington. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10:00-11:00 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.
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM Puffins & Pelagics
Join Bob 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.
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM Hardhead Island: Important Bird Area NEW!
Enjoy a guided trip to Hardhead Island, an Audubon Important Bird Area in eastern Penobscot Bay. View guillemots, scoters, and other seabirds along the way. Landing is not permitted on the island, but there will be ample opportunities to see and photograph birds. $60 pp. Reservations required (348-2455) Dress warmly for an open boat on the ocean. Depart Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, 130 Settlement Rd, off Oceanville Rd, Stonington.
11:00 AM-12:30 PM Becoming a More Observant Naturalist. NEW!
Join naturalists Marnie and Ken Crowell for a walk at Shore Acres Preserve. To know a bird is to know its habitat. Take a close look at the plant species and habitat structure of this diverse preserve. This gentle walk is perfect for seniors, families and beginners. Park in Shore Acres parking area on Greenlaw District Rd., Deer Isle or at yellow house across the road. Special parking permission granted for WWW weekend only.
11:30 AM-1:30 PM Drop-in Chowder & Popovers at Rabbit Hill Farm
See Saturday description. 148 Barbour Farm Road, Stonington, Maine 367-5003 for questions.
1:00-2:00 PM Wildflowers and Herbs
Certified herbalist and gardener, Brighid Doherty, leads a walk at Scott’s Landing which is abundant with plants that have unexpected culinary and medicinal uses. Even the ubiquitous spruce and Balsam fir! This is the first in a season-long series of walks led by Doherty focused on the rich heritage and many uses of common plants in the Maine landscape. Scott’s Landing, opposite Causeway Beach, Rt 15, N Deer Isle.