Harriers met up at the blueberry barrens of Kennebunk, Maine, on June 7, where there was a great deal to be seen and heard. Read a description of the event by Harriers member Brynlee Kimball, below!
Photograph by Rob Mumford
By Brynlee Kimball
We were the first to arrive at 4:47am. It was dark and cold. As we waited for the rest of the group, the eastern Maine sky bloomed orange and the gray fingers of fog released their grip on the blueberry barrens. It is just astounding how many birds are singing in the very early morning. Upland Sandpipers, at least five different species of sparrow, Prairie Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and a few more were all awake and singing their little hearts out.
After everyone had arrived, we listen for a minute or two and then started walking on the trail through the savannah. Almost immediately to our left in a scrubby little bush we heard a babble of song and turned to find a Field Sparrow hopping amongst the branches. We walked for a few minutes, just listening to the birdcalls when suddenly we saw little heads bobbing in and out of the grass. Then we heard the whooping call of the Upland Sandpiper, its speckled head briefly visible in the tall grass as we peered through binoculars. To our left we spotted an old tree snag with two large birds: a pair of Red-tailed Hawks waiting for the thermals to carry them aloft for the day.
(More of Brynlee's account can be read here at our Field Notes blog...)
For a full list of the Harriers' sightings on June 7, click here.
Join The Harriers!
Do you like the outdoors? Do you like exploring in woods, fields, tidal pools, swamps? Are you interested in seeking out the birds and wildlife that live there, and learning them by name? Do you think you might be half-bird yourself? Join the Harriers and connect with other kids who feel the same.
New Hampshire’s Young Birders Club will open up to you some of the region’s most ecologically rich and diverse habitats. If you’d like to see new birds, learn to identify them by sight and by sound, and understand more about how they fit into the larger web of life around us, sign yourself up!
The Harriers welcome all kids under the age of 18 who live in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, or Massachusetts. You don’t need to pass any test! If you’re interested in the natural world, we’d love to have you. Ask your parents if you can get involved, and have them contact the club's coordinators to find out more about us.
Because the Young Birders Club (YBC) is run by kids, there are plenty of chances to play a leadership role within the organization. Your photographs and writing are needed for the website; your ideas for group excursions make our field trips happen. And by becoming a member, you will become one of your school’s “Lead Birders,” with the chance to be in charge of collecting and recording data about the bird-life on and around your campus. By comparing that information with that of other schools, we can get a more complete picture of what’s happening, year by year, to New Hampshire’s avian species.
Join the Harriers!
Membership in the Harriers lets you attend any and all of our field trips. Annual dues are $25, which help make our events possible. When you become a Harrier, you’ll also receive:
- Your own copy of the brand-new Stokes Field Guide to Birds (Eastern Region) [$15 list price]
- One "Rite-in-the-rain" notebook for your field notes and observations
- A checklist of New Hampshire’s birds
- A subscription to the YBC’s newsletter, The Harrier
- A membership patch featuring the Harriers' logo
- Best of all, you’ll be able to participate for free in any YBC event you like: look for nesting peregrine falcons in the White Mountains; watch young loons on New Hampshire ponds; hammer together nest-boxes for wood ducks; learn how to band migratory songbirds…the opportunities are endless! Check out our list of upcoming events to learn more.
Photograph by Aiden Moser
Kelsi Mumford spotted this recently emerged Luna Moth (Actias luna) hanging itself out to dry, just a couple feet off the ground at Kennebunk Plains. One of the most beautiful of our saturniid moths, lunas and others are emerging around New Hampshire this June. Keep your eyes out for them!
Photograph by Rob Mumford
Meet Our Sponsoring and Partnering Organizations!
Since the fall of 2013, the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, based in Holderness, NH, has been giving their organizational backing to the Young Birders Club. The Science Center's sponsorship is invaluable: there would still be harriers to see, but no Harriers to see them! In addition, the larger New Hampshire community of birders and environmental educators continues to support the Club in numerous ways, whether by leading field trips, advertising and hosting events, or spreading the word about all our activities.
To all these organizations and individuals who have helped build and support the Young Birders Club, we thank you! If you are not yet acquainted with the good work they are doing around the state, visit their websites to learn more:
The Harriers' March 14 outing to the southern coast of Maine turned up sightings of a whopping 27 Harlequin Ducks! In a March landscape still overwhelmingly gray and white, these were a sight for sore eyes!
Photograph by Len Medlock
What’s a Harrier, anyway?
The Harriers include a number of species of birds of prey (Latin genus name, Circus). At least one type of harrier is native to each continent other than Antarctica. They are long-winged birds with acute senses of sight and hearing. They usually hunt their prey (which includes small rodents, reptiles, or birds) by flying very low over a patch of open ground, such as a marsh or stubble field, looking and listening for any movement beneath them. In New Hampshire, our native harrier is the Northern Harrier, which used to be called the Marsh Hawk. It is a species of some concern, as populations appear to be declining in parts of the country, including New England. Adult males are very pale gray, with black wingtips, colors which give them the nickname “Gray ghosts.” Females are brown above and pale below. A young harrier’s plumage is like the adult female’s, only its belly is a luminous rusty-orange color, making it one of the few species in which the juvenile birds are more colorful than their parents. Birders will do well to take after this gorgeous animal!