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May 23 - 27, 2021
Plus Vinalhaven extension
May 27 - 28, 2021

Contact [email protected] to reserve your place!

Itinerary>      Trip Cost>     Tour Registration & Terms>

Maine! The largest and arguably most beautiful state in New England conjures up images of scenic, rocky shorelines and verdant deciduous and spruce/fir forests. The diverse and abundant habitats of Maine include more forested area than any other state, 6000 lakes, 3000 coastal islands and 3500 miles of coastline (more than California!) plus peatland bogs, sprawling freshwater and brackish marshes, wetlands, meadows and more.


Boreal Chickadee. Photo by John Schwarz

For birders, the forest habitats of Maine offer avian gems such as Spruce Grouse (Photo: John Schwarz,, Ruffed Grouse, Boreal Chickadee (Photo: John Schwarz,, Canada Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, Saw-whet Owl, Eastern Whippoorwill, Black Tern, Rusty Blackbird, plus crossbills, vireos, flycatchers, swallows, and more than two dozen species of colorful wood warblers returning to their breeding grounds by late May. Protected areas along the coast include offer have the chance to see breeding Peregrine Falcons, returning warblers including Prairie, Cape May, Tennessee and Yellow-breasted Chat, Alder Flycatcher, songbirds like Veery, Scarlet Tanager, Field Sparrow, and perhaps a Bobolink or an Upland Sandpiper.


Maine has recorded 450 species of birds and has 200 breeding species and this tour samples the best of the forest and coast. Starting in Saco, we head up into the southern reaches of the boreal forest to western Maine’s best birding areas including Messalonskee Marsh, Cold Spring Ranch, and Bigelow Preserve in search of the specialties of those areas. From here we head to Camden to bird the varied coastal habitats. We end our trip at the famous Scarborough Marshes looking for rails, marsh sparrows and others.

Atlantic Puffin, (Photo: Steve Bird)


As an extension, those interested can visit and overnight on Vinalhaven, the largest of Maine’s offshore islands in the center of Penobscot Bay. From Vinalhaven we have the chance to enjoy a variety of seabirds that feed in the waters around the island and breed on the celebrated Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. Once used as a Navy bombing target, Seal Island now serves as an important nesting ground for a large seabird colony that holds everything from Atlantic Puffins (Photo: Steve Bird) to Arctic Terns to Great Cormorants. It is where the famous Red-billed Tropicbird has been showing up for more than 10 years.


This tour is designed to offer the chance to explore the diversity of habitats in southern and western Maine.

Join us for this special sampler of the iconic forests
and coast of Maine!


Blackburnian (Photo: Steve Bird)ITINERARY

Plan on arriving in Saco, Maine by this afternoon. We will meet at 6 PM for our welcome dinner and the start of the tour. Night Saco.


Monday, May 24:
Black Terns (Photo: John Schwarz, an early breakfast, we’ll head northeast to Gardiner to meet our local guide (at 7:30 AM) and bird the ½ mile trail along Cobbossee Stream Conservation Area & Harrison Nature Trail. A property of the Kennebec Land Trust, this area is a migrant hotspot in May. Here, we hope for our first looks at Cape May, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian (Photo: Steve Bird), Canada, Wilson’s and Blackpoll Warblers among others.

From there, we’ll head to Messalonskee Marsh to search for breeding Black Terns (Photo: John Schwarz,, Sandhill Cranes (Photo: Gina Nichol), American Bittern, Pied-billed Grebe, Common Loon, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, and multiple species of swallows. Nearby, we’ll visit Maine’s largest Purple Martin colony that has been in existence at least since 1909 and hope for access to a large Bank Swallow colony on private property.


Sandhill Cranes by Gina Nichol.
Sandhill Cranes


From here we will explore the open habitats that border the southern reaches of Maine’s boreal forest. We’ll visit a bird friendly ranch to watch displaying Wilson’s Snipe (Photo: Steve Bird) winnowing above the wet meadows. Wetland habitats here could hold Hooded Merganser, American Bittern, Solitary Sandpiper, and Lesser Yellowlegs and grassland habitats can offer Bobolink, Savannah Sparrow, American Kestrel, Alder Flycatcher, and Eastern Kingbird, with Brown Thrashers hiding in the thickets. With luck we may find Upland Sandpiper or American Pipit. In the evening we will check in to our lovely historic inn in Kingfield.

After a delicious dinner and review of our checklist, we may have the option to look for Eastern Whip-poor-will if there are any reports in the vicinity.


Tuesday, May 25:
We’ll have an early breakfast (6 AM) but the sun will be up at 5 AM so anyone wanting to check the apple trees and small patch of forest on the grounds of the Inn is welcome to get a head start. Reserve your energy as we have a full day of exploring the forest proper. Depending on what scouting and recent reports reveal, we’ll bird key forest sites looking for Spruce Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Canada Jay (Photo: Steve Bird), Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Swainson’s Thrush, Rusty Blackbird, and other boreal specialties. By late may, these forests hold warblers galore all in their colorful spring finery. We’ll be on the lookout for Canada, Wilson’s, Magnolia, Cape May, Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, and Bay-breasted Warbler as well as Yellow-bellied, Olive-sided, Alder and other flycatchers. Vireos should be active and we’ll take note of any Crossbills or Evening Grosbeaks in the area. If we’re lucky and use good field craft, perhaps we’ll find a roosting Northern Saw-whet or Barred Owl. This is sure to be an exciting day as we search out the forest specialties against the backdrop of returning neotropical migrants.

Later in the day we’ll return to our lovely inn for a delicious dinner and review of the day’s sightings.


Saw-whet Owl (Gina Nichol)    Cape May Warbler (Paul Wolter)   Black-backed Woodpecker (Steve Bird)

Boreal habitat (Ron Joseph)
Photos: Saw-whet Owl (Gina Nichol), Cape May Warbler (Paul Wolter), Black-backed Woodpecker (Steve Bird), Boreal habitat (Ron Joseph)


Bobolink (Photo: Steve Bird)

Wednesday, May 26:
Once again the grounds of the Inn can offer early birding and we’ll hit any spots that look promising before driving south to the picturesque mid-coast Maine town of Camden. The Camden area has Land Trust properties, Nature Centers, and State Parks that offer great coastal birding and we’ll explore these areas to look for returning warblers including Prairie, Cape May, Tennessee and Yellow-breasted Chat and we’ll search for Alder Flycatcher, Veery, Scarlet Tanager, and Field Sparrow and perhaps a Bobolink (Photo: Steve Bird) or Upland Sandpiper.

In addition to songbirds and already breeding warblers, we may have the chance to see breeding Peregrine Falcons or maybe a Northern Goshawk. And, we’ll hope for the chance to see the amazing display flight of the American Woodcock. Our lodging tonight is another lovely inn close to town where we’ll enjoy a lovely dinner.

Thursday, May 27:
This morning we’ll enjoy an early breakfast and then bird Camden Hills Philadelphia Vireo (Photo: Steve Bird)State Park at the top of Mount Battie. The lookout offers amazing views of Penobscot Bay and its hundreds of islands including Audubon’s Hog Island, Matinicus Island, Mount Desert Island with Cadillac Mountain and Vinalhaven. It is one of the most picturesque landscapes on the Atlantic seaboard, the inspiration for then 19-year old, Edna St. Vincent Millay, to write the famous poem “Renascence”. We’ll bird the lookout and Mount Batten Trail in search of Philadelphia Vireo (Photo: Steve Bird), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Tennessee Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, White-winged Crossbill, Red Crossbill, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and others.


Later in the morning, we’ll head south along the coast to the famous Scarborough Marsh, one of the premier birding destinations in Maine. In late May, the Eastern Road Trail and shoreline areas around the marsh can hold Seaside Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow (Photo: Gina Nichol), Saltmarsh Sparrow, Marsh Wren, Glossy Ibis or even White-faced Ibis, Virginia Rail, Least Tern, Roseate Tern, lingering winter dabbling and sea ducks, herons and egrets galore, migrating shorebirds and any number of rarities.


There are many birding sites in this area and we’ll bird all afternoon before ending our tour in Saco at 6 PM. End of tour.




Vinalhaven extension: May 27 - 28, 2021
For those wishing to extend their stay, we have added a very special extension to Vinalhaven Island in the Penobscot Bay. Space is limited and first-come, first-served.


Thursday, May 27:
Today after breakfast and early birding we will head to Rockland to board the Maine State Ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven Island, seven miles from the mainland in the heart of Penobscot Bay. The cruise through the bay passes several islands and ledges, as we make our way into Hurricane Sound and then Carver’s Harbor. The 80 minute ferry ride is sure to offer picturesque views and as we cruise we will search the island waters for Northern Gannet, Common Eider (Photo: Gina Nichol), Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Bonaparte’s Gull, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Jaegers and other oceangoing species.


On arrival in Vinalhaven, we will disembark the ferry and drop our bags at the Tidewater Inn. After lunch, we will board the “Skua”, a comfortable 36' lobster boat for a cruise out to Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. Our 4 hour cruise will take us to Seal Island to see the 65-acre sanctuary is managed in cooperation with National Audubon Society to protect colonial nesting seabirds. Supporting one of the largest tern colonies in the Gulf of Maine, Seal Island has thousands of pairs of Arctic and Common Terns. Atlantic Puffins have been reintroduced on the island and our voyage around the island should see us plenty of these unique “sea parrots” as well as and Common Eider, Double-crested and Great Cormorants, Leach’s Storm-petrel, Black Guillemot, and Razorbill. The noisy, seemingly chaotic spectacle of this large and diverse colony is sure to captivate us. We’ll scan the waters around the island for shearwaters, Common Murres, Northern Gannets, and other seabirds. With luck, Atlantic Puffinthe Red-billed Tropicbird that’s been a regular summer resident on Seal Island will be in town as well.

Arctic Tern by Gina Nichol    Common Murre by Steve Bird

Photos: Atlantic Puffin, Arctic Tern by Gina Nichol, Common Murre by Steve Bird.


Later in the afternoon, we’ll head back to shore to the Tidewater Inn. We’ll enjoy a nice dinner and review of our unforgettable day.


PLEASE NOTE: As with any boat trip, we could be impacted by weather. We’ll heed the advice of the captain if conditions are too rough or unsafe and bird from land.


Virginia Rail (Photo: Steve Bird)Friday, May 28:
This morning we can bird around town and be ready to board the 10:30 am ferry from Vinalhaven to Rockland. We’ll arrive at Rockland at 11:45 am and then head to Scarborough Marshes one of the premier birding destinations in Maine for the afternoon. We’ll bird the Eastern Road Trail and shoreline areas around the marsh looking for Seaside Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Marsh Wren, Glossy Ibis or even White-faced Ibis, Virginia Rail (Photo: Steve Bird), Least Tern, Roseate Tern, lingering winter dabbling and sea ducks, herons and egrets galore, migrating shorebirds and any number of rarities. There are many birding sites in this area and we’ll bird all afternoon before ending our tour in Saco at 6 PM. End of Tour.


Itinerary>      Trip Cost>      Tour Registration & Terms>


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May 23 - 27, 2021
Plus Vinalhaven extension, May 27 - 28, 2021

Registration Form>

TOUR PRICE, MAIN TOUR: US$1495.00 per person based on double occupancy and a minimum of 6 clients.  Note the main tour begins and ends in Saco, Maine. Single supplement: US$395.00 per person. Subject to availability.

US$450.00 per person based on double occupancy and a minimum of 4 clients.  The extension begins in Camden, Maine and ends in Saco, Maine.
Single supplement: US$95.00 per person. Subject to availability.

Deposit: $500.00 per person. Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal. 
Use this link
to make your credit card payment.  Please advise [email protected] when you have made payment. 

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms, all meals from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5, airport transfers via hotel van, ground transport throughout, park entrance fees, water and snacks and services of leader(s).

Not included: International or domestic flight, passport fees, departure tax, insurance, drinks, laundry, tips, and items of a personal nature.  Note: The main tour tour price is based on a minimum of 6 passengers.  If there are less than 6, a small group supplement may be charged.


RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour, complete the Registration & Release Form and mail it with your deposit of $500.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC.  Instructions are on the form. Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   
>Download & print the Registration Form


Once the tour is confirmed to go ahead, we will send you information about booking your flights and arranging travel to Saco, Maine. Please do not book flights or make travel arrangements until you receive this information from us and are notified that the trip has sufficient numbers to run. Final payment is due January 23, 2021.

**Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from our providers, estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds:
Please review our Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)> prior to registering for this tour. All cancellations must be made in writing. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.

There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.

Insurance: Sunrise Birding LLC strongly recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more. Cancel for Any Reason plans are advised for the most complete coverage.

For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 07-0025.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. 11.17 E7N


Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at [email protected].com 
Phone: 203.453.6724