star Be part of April 1–30! star
Help us count the thousands of birds that travel past Schoodic Point in autumn. Drop-in from sunrise until 9:30 a.m. every day (weather permitting) from September through November. Bring binoculars. Dress for the weather. No registration required. Background The inspiration for Sea Watch at Schoodic Point comes from the waterbird migration count operated by New Jersey Audubon at Avalon, NJ, which has been counting water-birds since 1995. Like the Avalon count, Sea Watch at Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park aspires to conduct a systematic count of migrating waterbirds. How the Count Operates The Schoodic Point Sea Watch is conducted from a granite headland located at the west end of the public parking area, just south of the entrance to Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park. The nearest town, Winter Harbor, is located about six miles north of the count site. Schoodic Point is unique in that it provides an unobstructed view of the Gulf of Maine at a point where the peninsula juts out far enough to witness migrating birds passing close to the count site. The count is generally conducted from sunrise to noon, seven days a week, in all weather conditions, from late August to 18 November, using binoculars and spotting scopes. The primary counter counts five or six days a week, and a secondary “relief” counter covers the other days. The data are recorded in hourly segments, and recorded on standard field forms. Hourly species totals are documented by using handheld tally counters. Characteristics of the Flight In general, the flight tends to be heaviest early in the day. Southerly and easterly winds are usually more productive than northerly or westerly winds. The flight line is essentially east to west along the coast. However, a few species will cut across the peninsula, most notably cormorants and Canada geese. Most of the time, the flight is fairly sparse, but dabbling ducks, cormorants, geese, and a few other species can get quite abundant. The overall flight is mainly affected by seasonal and daily temporal patterns, and to a lesser extent by wind direction, and wind speed. Visibility is always a factor, as reduced visibility hinders the counter’s ability to assess the flight. It takes a hardy soul, and an experienced birder to conduct the Sea Watch!