By Ómar Runólfsson (Flickr: Gyr falcon - Falco rusticolus - Fálki) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ómar Runólfsson (Flickr: Gyr falcon – Falco rusticolus – Fálki) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever spied a gryfalcon, the largest falcon in the world, in your travels?  Probably not unless you are trekking through the arctic tundra.  However, a group of birders looking for snowy owls in the Wells-Ogunquit region of Maine came across one in a parking lot, of all places!  Read all about their sighting in this article from the Bangor Daily News: “Gryfalcon leaves no doubt who’s master.”

Birding is a favorite pastime of many Boomers and Seniors so I thought it would be fun to explore birding here in New England.  Where are the best places? What apps are folks using? What can you expect to see.

Photo by Chris L'Abbe Snowy Owl in southern Maine

Photo by Chris L’Abbe
Snowy Owl in southern Maine

My two favorite bird experts are cousins Joyce and Ginny from Massachusetts.

My first question was…Where are your favorite places to go birding?  Mark these locations on your map application!

  1.   Newburyport-Plum Island area of Massachusetts including the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
  2. Salisbury Beach State Park (Massachusetts)
  3. Merrimac River from the Chain Bridge (Connects Newburyport and Amesbury) to the river’s mouth (Newburyport).
  4. Cape Ann area of Massachusetts near Gloucester and Rockport (Rockport is loved by artists).
  5. Royalston, MA


Maps on an iPhone--Google Maps will give you the same info.

Maps on an iPhone–Google Maps will give you the same info.


What will you see?

Image by Chris L'Abbe--Loon

Image by Chris L’Abbe–Loon

1. Along the coast–ducks, loons, & grebes. Harlequin ducks are often seen in the Cape Ann area.

2. In the marshes–snowy owls, northern harriers, long-eared owls (sometimes), snowy owls (sometimes) and rough-legged hawks.

3. Royalston–some years pine and evening grosbeak are in great abundance.


I also asked what apps they used.  Two favorites are The Sibley eGuide and iBird Pro.  Both cost close to $20.00, however the illustrations are outstanding. The field markings, clearly defined and labeled, will be a tremendous help to both expert and neophyte birders.  Here are a couple of screen shots from both.

Sibley: The illustrations are drawings

Sibley  Silbey2






iBird Guide–These are from their Backyard version which is less expensive.

iBirds1  iBird2

Remember, your Maps apps will also be a great help in getting you to  birding spots.

Part 2 of this series will take us to northern Maine to see where avid birder Ernie Easter goes to take his wonderful pictures.

Happy birding and please leave a comment to share your favorite spots!


Cousin Joyce reports that the Merrimac River below the Chain Bridge is a good spot to see bald eagles once the river ices over. I can report that Merrymeeting Bay and the River Walk in Brunswick, Maine are also eagle haunts.

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