View over Monhegan Harbor to Manana Island Photo: John Murdock
Monhegan Island, Maine, is a treasure. Small, isolated and quite far offshore, it concentrates landbird migrants, attracts off-course vagrants and provides some of the most pleasant birdwatching anywhere. There are very few motor vehicles, and footpaths lead out in many directions through spruce forests and small clearings to high rocky headlands and tiny coves. Late September is probably the best birdwatching time at Monhegan, when nocturnal migrants drift offshore on northwest winds and find refuge on the island, sometimes in large numbers. Vagrants from the south and west have been frequent and hawk flights spectacular by island standards.
Monhegan has a small village populated year-round by a few hardy lobstermen and their families and, in the warm months, a thriving summer colony and art scene that feasts on the celebrated Maine coast scenery. The island itself, especially in this tranquil after-season, has a particular beauty: the last bloom of weedy wildflowers among stacked lobster traps, the low ring of bell buoys on quiet afternoons and low-angled sunlight on old buildings.
Day 1: The tour begins this evening in Portland, Maine.
Day 2: After a morning birding in Southern Maine, likely at Scarborough Marsh or Biddeford Pool for shorebirds, wading birds, and perhaps Saltmarsh and Nelson’s Sparrows, we’ll drive the 60 miles to Boothbay Harbor, the jumping-off point for the afternoon ferry to Monhegan. The ride takes about an hour and one-half and depending on weather we may see a few seabirds, Northern Gannet and Cory’s Shearwater being the most likely. Night on Monhegan.
Days 3-6: Our days on Monhegan will be unscripted. We’ll usually walk the dirt road through town before breakfast, looking in on favorite gardens and weedy patches that over the years seem to have harbored more than their share of birds, and we’ll visit them repeatedly.
After breakfast we’ll take a longer walk, perhaps past Ice House Pond through Cathedral Woods to the northeast side or perhaps to Lobster Cove or Burnthead Cliff. No walk is very long in distance, and each is lovely in its own way. If there are lots of migrants about, we may never get out of town, and expect to be on our feet – if not actually moving – most of the time.
Afternoons will be a repeat of the mornings but to different destinations. During our stay we’ll certainly visit many spots repeatedly but there’s more than enough to do. Nights on Monhegan.
Day 7: We’ll depart Monhegan this afternoon and return to Boothbay Harbor and Portland. Night in Portland..
Day 8: The tour concludes this morning in Portland.
Updated: 20 October 2016
- 2017 Tour Price : $2,650
- Single Occupancy Supplement : $720
* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.
Group size limited to eight participants with one leader.