Birds On Tap – Roadtrip!

Seasonal birding hotspots and great local alcohol – a perfect combination, and we’ll even do all of the driving!

  • Now Every Month!
Adult (21+)
$65

The unique, relaxed birding and beer-ing adventures combine great local birding at seasonal hotspots with visits to sample the delicious creations of some of our favorite local producers.

The Maine Brew Bus and Freeport Wild Bird Supply are excited to collaborate on ten great outings for 2019 in the fifth year of our popular Birds On Tap℠ – Roadtrip! series.

The unique, relaxed birding and beer-ing adventures combine great local birding at seasonal hotspots with visits to sample the delicious creations of some of our favorite local producers. 

These tours are a perfect introduction to birding and/or craft beer, and a great opportunity to travel with significant others, friends, and family that have interest in one topic, while your interest is primarily in the other (for now!).

We’ll visit breweries (and now a couple of cideries and distilleries, too!) from Newcastle to Kittery, and we’ll bird seasonal hotspots throughout southern Maine.

These tours cost $65 per person, which includes expert bird guiding with author Derek Lovitch, beer guiding, samples at the producer locations, and round-trip transportation from either Freeport Wild Bird Supply or the Marginal Way Park and Ride in Portland. The alcohol samples are included in the tour price, and we will supply a light snack (a delicious vegetarian hand-pie) and water.

Bring binoculars and a spotting scope if you have one. We also recommend bringing a lunch or an additional snack if you so desire. And dress appropriately for the weather;  it can change very quickly in Maine. The samples are included in the tour price, and The Maine Brew Bus will supply a light snack (a delicious vegetarian hand-pie) and water. And dress appropriately for the time of the year; it can be frigid here in winter, especially when we’re standing still. On our coastal itineraries, a warm layer is highly recommended as the coast can be quite chilly at this time of year.

So whatever your birding interests are, we have a tour for you! Complete details of each tour and links to trip reports from prior outings, along with information about registration are available on the drop-down schedule below. 

Not sure how to start watching birds? Check out this article which is a step-by-step beginner’s guide to bird watching: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching

Want to know more? Our tours have been featured in the Portland Press HeraldMaine Public Radio, and the Associated Press. And for a little more about the history of our tour partnership with Freeport Wild Bird Supply, check out this blog entry.

We look forward to seeing you aboard the bus for a Birds On Tap – Roadtrip! this year. Great birding and beer-ing opportunities await!


Questions? Call 207-865-6000, email [email protected], or visit Freeport Wild Bird Supply to pay by cash or check. To conveniently pay online, click on the “Book Now” links below or on the calendar. Please note that tour venues and details may change without notice due to unforeseen circumstances. For information on the Birds On Tap – Roadtrip cancellation and refund policy, click here.

Birds On Tap – Roadtrip! Schedule

  • Chevron down Farms and Fermentation: Sunday, December 2, 2018
  • Sunday December 2, 2018 – Farms and Fermentation 9:00am to 3:30pm 

    • Sabattus Pond-Lake Auburn-Mayall Road
    • Baxter Brewing Company, Lewiston
    • Norumbega Cider, New Gloucester

    Book Farms and Fermentation online now!

    December can provide some fantastic birding opportunities. However, seasonally variable weather can impact where birds are. For example, a late freeze-up will keep ducks on smaller lakes, while an early snow might clear some species out. Therefore, our itinerary will be flexible in order to take advantage of a seasonal hotspot, unusual concentrations of birds, or even a rarity.

    Most likely, we’ll begin the tour by birding the fields of Mayall Road on the Gray/New Gloucester line. Snow Buntings and/or Horned Larks can amass here in abundance, and if they are around, we’ll be on the lookout for Lapland Longspurs among them.  Or, we might look for these same birds in the fields of Durham, or perhaps – in Tom Brady-esque fashion – call an audible and head to the “Goose Fields” of North Yarmouth and Cumberland if there’s a rare visitor from Greenland being seen.

    Our second stop will also be dictated by current conditions, specifically if fresh water has begun to freeze and where ducks are hanging out. Most likely, we’ll visit either Lake Auburn, where diving ducks such as Greater and Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Ducks tarry, as do waterbirds that are rare inland in Maine, such as Horned Grebes. Common Mergansers are also sometimes abundant. Or, we’ll bird the Androscoggin River from the Auburn Riverwalk or the fields of North River Road, looking for unusual dabblers among the Mallards and Common Mergansers, as well as Iceland Gulls and Peregrine Falcons. At either stop, Bald Eagles are also likely. And if Pine Grosbeaks and/or Bohemian Waxwings are present, we’ll likely seek these “irruptive” visitors from the north as well.

    The first stop after birding is Baxter Brewing Company. Baxter was founded in 2011 by Luke Livingston, a beer blogger who had written about the missed opportunity for a craft brewery to can beer. Baxter was the first brewery in New England to put all of its beer into aluminum containers: no glass bottles, just cans and kegs. They are located in the historic Civil War-era Bates textile mill, which has helped to contribute to Lewiston’s downtown revival. The company became one of the largest breweries in the state within its first couple of years. In late 2018 they opened a new 4,800 sq. ft. restaurant and pub adjacent to the brewery. The new space features a new pilot brewing system for the creation of specialty beers, as well as dedicated space for barrel-aging, and allows the opportunity to try several “unique and hard-to-find” beers.

    Our next stop will be at Norumbega Cider in New Gloucester. Noah Fralich’s family runs this farm, which is named for a “legendary settlement” in New England. And on this farm, we will find Norumbega Cidery. Hard cider played a strong part in the history and traditions of rural Maine and is currently making a comeback as an option for those interested in locally brewed and produced beverages. Enter Norumbega, one of southern Maine’s newest hard cider producers, where Noah makes sure that you know that it is all about the apples. See firsthand how hard cider is made, where it is bottled, and learn about the particular apple varieties used to make this very traditional beverage.

    To get an idea about what’s in store, check out the tour report from our 2016 outing. In 2017, our first 2 stops in Turner and Lake Auburn yielded 38 Horned Larks, and 7 species of ducks (including 100 Common Mergansers). At the final birding stop, Auburn Riverwalk, participants were treated to more ducks, a Peregrine Falcon, and a first-winter Iceland Gull.

    Book Farms and Fermentation online now!

  • Chevron down Gulls and Growlers: Saturday, January 19, 2019
  • Saturday, January 19, 2019 – Gulls and Growlers 9:00 am to 3:30 pm

    • Hatch Hill Landfill and Downtown Augusta Riverfront
    • Cushnoc Brewing, Augusta
    • Moderation Brewing, Brunswick

    Book Gulls and Growlers online now!

    That’s right, we’re taking you on a tour to a landfill! While it might not be our most aesthetically-pleasing destination, the massive concentration of easy food can produce incredible concentrations of birds, especially a variety of gulls, and Bald Eagles.  Up to 40 Bald Eagles can be seen here in the winter, and photography opportunities can be outstanding. Meanwhile, among thousands of Herring Gulls, we’ll learn to identify – and yes, appreciate – the variety of species (yup, it’s not just one “Seagull”), starting with Great Black-backed Gull, the largest gull in the world, and visitors from the north: Iceland and Glaucous Gulls.

    After we’ve had our fill (pardon the pun), we’ll head into downtown Augusta to work the river for more gulls, eagles, and likely Common Mergansers. If our gull-watching has been productive, and it’s an “irruption” year, we might stop at the Viles Arboretum instead to seek out Bohemian Waxwings or Pine Grosbeaks if they are around. But we’ll leave some extra time to search later for Snowy Owls.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two great local producers to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    Cushnoc Brewing was the first brewery in Maine’s capital city, opening in October 2017 on Water Street in Augusta. It was founded by four partners: Tobias Parkhurst who bought the building in 2016; Casey Hynes who previously worked at the Liberal Cup brewpub in Hallowell; Chris Geerlings, the brewer who previously worked at Southbound Brewing in Savannah, Georgia; and James Bass who is a local attorney. Cushnoc is a brewpub featuring wood-fired pizzas and other fare, with a brew lineup including year-round beers, seasonal and barrel-aged selections, plus guest taps from other Maine and regional breweries. The name is a nod to local history. Augusta is home to the Cushnoc archaeological site, which is on the location of an early 17th-century trading post on the Kennebec River. The 100-seat wood-fired pizza restaurant and craft brewery opened its doors at the end of October 2017. In 2018, Cushnoc acquired a new property on Route 3 in Augusta to allow them to expand their commercial brewing operations.

    On our way to our next stop, we have the opportunity to stop to look for Snowy Owls if they are currently being seen and time and conditions allow.

    Our next stop, Moderation Brewing opened in March 2018. Founded by Philip Welsch and Mattie Daughtry, the brewery and tasting room is located on Maine Street in Brunswick in a building that dates back to 1875. The name Moderation is a play on a couple of different concepts, including the period before total Prohibition where people were encouraged not to drink – but if they do drink in moderation. The founders are striving for a comfortable place for people to come together and relax, converse, and indulge after a long day. Breweries like this one represent the connection between the locals through the shared love of good local brews, in moderation of course! Both Mattie and Philip are native to Brunswick and excited to share their love for their hometown and fresh, locally made and sourced craft beer.

    To get an idea of what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2017 trip report.

    Book Gulls and Growlers online now!

  • Chevron down Seaducks and Suds: Sunday, February 10, 2019
  • Sunday, February 10, 2019 – Seaducks and Suds 9:00 am to 3:30 pm
    (SNOW DATE: Sunday, February 17, 2019)

    • Marginal Way/Nubble Light
    • Wiggly Bridge Distillery, York
    • Dirigo Brewing Company, Biddeford

    Book Seaducks and Suds online now!

    This perennial favorite visits the rocky headlands of York County that host impressive concentrations of some of the most beautiful ducks in the world. This tour will head to two of the hotspots, seeking Harlequin Ducks, all three scoters, Common Eider (and maybe even a King, one of the most sought-after of North American waterfowl), and many others. Purple Sandpipers and alcids (including Razorbill, Black Guillemot, and if we’re lucky, Common or Thick-billed Murre, and perhaps, if the winds align, a Dovekie!). We’ll scan the ocean from The Nubble, looking for these species, and more, including Black-legged Kittiwakes and “white-winged” gulls. Afterwards, a casual stroll along Marginal Way will afford us the opportunity to get up close and personal with “Harlies” and Purple Sandpipers.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local producers to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    Our first stop will be Wiggly Bridge, York’s only distillery. Taking it’s name from the what was once the smallest pedestrian suspension bridge in America, Wiggly Bridge Distilling is the product of a drive to learn how things are made fused with the love of good whiskey. Father and son team David and David aka “Little David” Woods house their operation in a historic old barn from the 1800’s that has been painstakingly restored and renovated to accommodate the distilling operation. Their line of small-batch spirits that include whiskey, bourbon, gin, and vodka are all produced on a copper pot still handmade by Little David- a skill he learned by watching YouTube videos.

    Next, we will visit Dirigo Brewing Company of Biddeford. Tom Bull has been in all phases of the business. He is a former homebrewer, bar manager, commercial brewer, and has even worked delivering beers for a distributor. After a successful run with his previous brewery called Bull Jagger, Tom is back with his new brewery called Dirigo Brewing Company in a section of the former Biddeford mill complex. His specialty is lagers, but he knows how to brew great ales as well. Visit the impressive tasting room overlooking the Saco Falls (keeping an eye out for Barrow’s Goldeneyes) as you sip on Tom’s great beer.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2018 and 2016 trip report. In 2018, we were treated two two rare Dovekies and 15ft waves, while in 2017, avian highlights included an ultra-rare Northern Pintail x Mallard hybrid, up-close Wood Ducks, and more than 2 dozen Harlequin Ducks.

    Book Seaducks and Suds online now!

  • Chevron down Spring Ducks and Draughts: Sunday, April 7, 2019
  • Sunday, April 7, 2019 – Spring Ducks and Draughts 9:30 am to 4:00 pm

    • Merrymeeting Bay
    • Oxbow Brewing Company, Newcastle
    • Bath Brewing Company, Bath

    Book Spring Ducks and Draughts online now!

    This tour will focus on the impressive springtime concentrations of waterfowl that stage on Merrymeeting Bay. Awaiting the opening of ponds and lakes further north, large number of Green-winged Teal, American Black Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and Common Mergansers build in the bay. Among the regulars, less common species such as American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler are often found, along with rarities including Eurasian Wigeon. Visits to a few of the hotspots will seek the densest concentrations of ducks, and in doing so, we may see a dozen or more Bald Eagles. When conditions align, the concentration of ducks and the predators that seek them is one of the true spring birding spectacles in Maine.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local producers to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    Our first stop is Oxbow Brewing Company. Founded in 2011, Oxbow is an American farmhouse brewery specializing in traditional Belgian-style ales with contemporary American influence. They brew small batches of beer exclusively in a renovated barn in rural Newcastle, Maine. Their destination is truly special, with the properties of the well water as well as fruits from their orchards playing an important role in their various beers.

    Next, we will stop by Bath Brewing Company which opened on Front Street in March 2018. It was founded by Terry Geaghan, Mike Therriault, and developer Sean Ireland. The three owners played basketball together at the YMCA, and often talked about how strange it was that Bath didn’t have a brewery yet. So together they found a way to make it happen. When they began brewing their own beer in October of that year under the direction of longtime brewer Peter Heggeman, they became the first locally-based, locally-founded brewpub in Sagadahoc County.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2018 and 2016 trip reports.

    Book Spring Ducks and Draughts online now!

  • Chevron down Warblers and Wort: Sunday, May 12, 2019
  • Sunday, May 12, 2019 – Warblers and Wort – Mother’s Day Special 8:00 am to 2:00 pm

    • Evergreen Cemetery and Capisic Pond Park, Portland
    • Bissell Brothers Company, Portland
    • Austin Street Brewing Company, Portland

    Book Warblers and Wort online now!

    May means warbler migration, and the destination for Warblers and Wort will hit two of Maine’s most famous springtime migrant traps, Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery and nearby Capisic Pond Park – perfect destinations to take Mom birding! Two oases in the urban jungle, featuring water sources and a mix of various habitats, help concentrate migrant birds that found themselves in or over the city come sunrise. After migrating all night, tired travelers looks for refuge: food, water, and shelter, and urban greenspaces are absolutely critical for refueling.

    Warbler diversity will rapidly be increasing, up to 18 species possible by the middle of May, depending on the progression of the season. Other species, such as sparrows, raptors, and other Neotropical Migrants such as orioles and tanagers are also on the move, increasing our chances of seeing a diversity of species. If the cemetery’s apples and cherries are blooming, we may be in for quite a treat as these are absolute magnets for hungry migrants.  Meanwhile, the trees have yet to leaf out, making them easier to spot! 

    It’s sometimes hard to leave Evergreen on a busy spring morning, but if we do, it will be for the very short trip over to Capisic Pond Park, where we’ll continue to seek migrants of all shapes and sizes.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local producers to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    First up is Bissell Brothers Brewing, which was founded in December 2013 by brothers Noah and Peter Bissell, along with Noah’s college friend Seth. Their original brewery was located at the now-famous One Industrial Way. Their first release was The Substance, a hoppy American Pale Ale that was first released in cans in January 2014 and immediately created massive demand from beer lovers. Since those early days they have increased their production by at least 200% a year, necessitating the 2016 move of the entire brewery to Thompson’s Point in Portland. They now brew in a revitalized space 10 times the size of their old brewery that was built in 1904 and once served as a railcar repair location for the Maine Central Railroad. They received a larger brewhouse during 2017, and sent their original system north to begin brewing for their second location in their hometown of Milo, Maine.

    The second stop is the brand new production location for Austin Street Brewery. Founded in the spring of 2014, Jake and co-founder Will Fischer were barely able to keep up with demand as they were brewing on a 1-barrel system for the first two years. Now brewing on a 10-barrel brewhouse, they are able to produce and package their well known Patina Pale Ale and Six Grain milk stout right along with more unique beers that are using different yeast strains and wild fermentation methods. And they have recently opened an impressive new production location in Portland’s East Bayside, but smartly are also keeping their tasting room at One Industrial Way that has helped to make their beer so popular.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2017 trip report.

    Book Warblers and Wort online now!

  • Chevron down Grassland and Grains: Sunday, June 2, 2019
  • Sunday, June 2, 2019 – Grassland and Grains 8:00 am to 2:30 pm

    • Kennebunk Plains
    • Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company, Lyman
    • Batson River Brewing Company, Biddeford

    Book Grassland and Grains online now!

    Kennebunk Plains is an annual pilgrimage for Maine’s birders, and one of our favorite BoT outings. There are few places – and none this easy – to observe state Endangered Grasshopper Sparrows and Threatened Upland Sandpipers. Throw in what is perhaps the densest concentration of Vesper and Field Sparrows and Prairie Warblers in the state, along with lots of Chestnut-sided Warblers, Eastern Towhees, and many more. Then, add a rarity like a near-annual Clay-colored Sparrow to the mix or a visit with one of the local pairs of American Kestrels, Brown Thrashers, or Eastern Kingbirds, and you have the recipe for a tremendous day of birding. We’ll visit a couple of hotspots and take some short to moderate (but easy and flat) walks to sample the best corners of this prized habitat.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local breweries to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    Our first stop is Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company. A young business seeing some astounding growth, Lyman’s only brewery involves a father and son team leveraging the success of their organic landscaping operation into a successful brewing operation. Funky Bow has recently expanded, and now cans many of its offerings to greatly increase the brand’s retail presence. The atmosphere at this out of the way spot is excellent, and usually involves a wood-fired pizza oven going at full bore.

    Next, we will stop by a multi-faceted company called Batson River Brewing Company. Their operations include a hybrid brewery/distillery in Biddeford, a farm and orchard in Kennebunkport, and a tasting room in Kennebunk. The partners in the project are Tim Harrington, a co-founder and creative director of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection; Kevin Lord, owner of Thomas & Lord Custom Builders; and Matt Dyer, a former beverage director of Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunk. The partners planted the seed for their new business in 2014 by growing hops and lavender on their farm and orchard. Those ingredients are now being used to make their first spirits and ales. Dyer is the lead distiller, and Wade Benker-Ritchey is the head brewer.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2018 and 2016 trip reports.

    Book Grassland and Grains online now!

  • Chevron down Terns and Taps: Sunday, July 7, 2019
  • Sunday, July 7, 2019 – Terns and Taps 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

    • Biddeford Pool
    • Barreled Souls, Saco
    • Fore River Brewing, South Portland

    Book Terns and Taps online now!

    There’s no true “beginning” or “end” to migration as something is always on the move. Shorebirds are a perfect example: as the last immature and non-breeding shorebirds are moseying their way northward in late June, the first southbound “fall” migrants are already arriving!  This tour is designed to capture the ebb and flow of the season, including shorebirds that may be “oversummering” here, breeding locally (including Piping Plover and Willet), or already returning from the Arctic.

    We’ll start at Hills Beach, where shorebirds that are both coming and going can often be found. We’ll also look through the masses of Common Terns for the Federally Endangered Roseate Terns that often come here to feed. Glowing white, with slim bodies and longer tails than the common Commons, you’ll learn how to pick these stunning – and rare – birds out of the flock. Piping Plovers usually breed here, and we’ll look for them too, while keeping an eye out for any other shorebirds.  

    Our next stop will depend on the tides, but will focus on seeing more shorebirds, likely via Biddeford Pool Beach or the mudflats of “the Pool” itself.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local breweries to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    Our first stop will be Barreled Souls in Saco. This brewery was founded in the summer of 2014, and may be the only brewery in the country fermenting 100% of its beer in oak barrels. They are using a Burton Union system, a wooden fermenter method originally developed in England in the 1800’s and was once the industry standard. All of their beer is produced in Saco, with larger quantities made at their Mill Brook facility and smaller batches made adjacent to their basement-level tasting room. Be prepared to try a huge variety of unusual styles, with many of their beers also spending time aging in wood barrels.

    Our second stop is Fore River Brewing Company. They opened in South Portland in early 2016, and they are already the oldest of three breweries in the city. John and TJ – two friends and avid homebrewers – teamed up with Alex the property owner (who had just sold his landscaping business) to open the brewery. They worked for months to hand craft and perfect their beers and the beautiful tasting room, which has both classic and modern barn elements in the design. Look for an outside beer garden at this spot just across the river from Portland.

    To get an idea of what’s in store – in both the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2018 and 2017 reports.

    Book Terns and Taps online now!

  • Chevron down Shorebirds and Steins: Sunday, August 4, 2019
  • Sunday, August 4, 2019 – Shorebirds and Steins 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

    • Scarborough Marsh/Pine Point
    • Foulmouthed Brewing, South Portland
    • Lone Pine Brewing, Portland

    Book Shorebirds and Steins online now!

    The original BoT Roadtrip!  in 2015, our most popular tour returns to Scarborough Marsh at prime time for a good variety of migrant shorebirds. We’ll learn how to identify our common species, and search for the rare. Up to 20 species of shorebirds are possible! We’ll practice identifying our “peeps” (Least, Semipalmated, and White-rumped Sandpipers) and attempt to tease out a rare Western or even a Baird’s among the masses. We’ll look for local breeding American Oystercatchers and Willets, while searching for migrants such as Red Knots on their way from the high Arctic to the southern tip of Argentina.

    And not to worry, we’ll take a look at everything else, such as Common, Roseate, and Least Terns; herons and egrets, and who knows what else? We may even get a chance to see Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows depending on time, wind, and tide.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local breweries to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    First up will be Foulmouthed Brewing. Veteran homebrewers Craig Dilger and Bill Boguski have joined forces to bring Foulmouthed Brewing to life in South Portland. Their brewpub has been built inside a former auto and boat repair facility, and the brewery is also well designed for large scale production. Opened in June of 2016, Foulmouthed provides a unique assortment of beers that have been crafted to pair with the food turned out from their sunny kitchen. Learn about the origin of the name as you tour one of the most unique breweries in Maine.

    Next, we will visit Lone Pine Brewing in Portland. After working in the retail side of beer for over a decade, Tom Madden decided that the time was right to break into producing his own beer. A long-time home brewer and Certified Cicerone, he reconnected with his longtime friend John Paul who had been working in the music industry in California. Together, they opened Lone Pine in March of 2016 in a former countertop production space in Portland’s East Bayside and quickly enjoyed tremendous success and popularity. In late 2017, Lone Pine purchased the former Sebago Brewing brewing facility in Gorham, a move which increased their production volume by ten-fold.

    To get an idea of what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the recap of the inaugural Birds on Tap – Roadtrip! outing from 2015 , or the 2016 and 2018 trip reports.

    Book Shorebirds and Steins online now!

  • Chevron down “Sod-pipers” and Sips: Sunday, September 8, 2019
  • Sunday, September 8, 2019 – “Sod-pipers” and Sips 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

    • Fryeburg Harbor farms and fields
    • Ebenezer’s Pub, Lovell
    • Saco River Brewing Company, Fryeburg

    Book “Sod-pipers” and Sips online now!

    After a successful inaugural tour in 2018, we’ll return inland to the farms and fields of Fryeburg Harbor. We’ll be a little more specific in our targets for this trip, as we’re heading this way to seek the sought-after group of birds affectionately known as “Grasspipers,” but for both accuracy and alliteration, we’re calling them “sod-pipers.”  Our goals include the uncommon American Golden-Plover, but we’re heading to one of the most reliable places in the state for Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Baird’s Sandpiper, two rare-but-regular species that visit us in very small numbers each fall.  While Killdeer is probably our only sure bet, other shorebirds are always hoped for, with our focus on the fields and turf farms that are best for Buff-breasted and Baird’s.

    In the open areas we’ll also look for Sandhill Cranes (a flock usually begins to assemble here by early September), American Pipits, and Horned Larks, while riparian edges could produce some migrant warblers. Raptors are regular as well, including Bald Eagles and American Kestrels.

    This is a very special tour, as after about 3 hours of birding, we’ll first be transported to one of the most famous beer bars in the world!

    The first stop is Ebenezer’s Pub, in Lovell that was founded by Chris and Jen Lively in 2004. Chris comes from seven generations of family working in the beer business, and after working in the corporate world he was inspired to open a European style beer bar in the western part of Maine on property that his wife’s family owns. Within three years, Beer Advocate listed Ebenezer’s as the No. 1 Beer Bar in the World. Ebenezer’s has also been rated as Top Beer Destination in the World by ratebeer.com and Top Beer Destination in America by Travel + Leisure and Men’s Journal.

    Next up, we will visit Saco River Brewing Company in Fryeburg. Founded in 2016 by Mason Irish and Kevin Antonucci, Saco River Brewing is located in an empty industrial building behind Two Black Dogs Country Pub, just a stone’s throw from Fryeburg Academy and a short walk from the eponymous Saco River. After college at UMO, homebrewing grew from a hobby for the two into something they wanted to do professionally. The brewers at nearby Moat Mountain Brewing Co. in New Hampshire helped the two friends make the leap from homebrewers to commercial brewers. Saco River Brewing Co. is starting small, brewing on a seven-barrel system. The tasting room, which formerly housed a sheet metal fabrication shop, maintains an industrial feel with concrete floors and rustic woods and with a red Old Town canoe hanging above the poured concrete bar.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2018 trip report.

    Book “Sod-pipers” and Sips online now!

  • Chevron down Fall Ducks and Draughts: Sunday, October 20, 2019
  • Sunday, October 20, 2019 – Fall Ducks and Draughts 9:00 am to 3:30 pm

    • Sabattus Pond/Androscoggin River/Auburn Riverwalk
    • Side by Each Brewing, Auburn
    • Maine Beer Company, Freeport

    Book Fall Ducks and Draughts online now!

    This trip will visit Sabattus Pond at the peak of waterfowl numbers and diversity. A combination of the shallow water, sheltered coves, and an invasive snail combine to make this one of the best locales for duck-watching in all of southern Maine. Hundreds of Ruddy Ducks, Lesser and Greater Scaup, Mallards, and Common Mergansers are often present at this season, with smaller numbers of all sorts of species, including American Black Ducks, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Mergansers, and much more. It’s also the time of year that rarities show up, with recent highlights including Redhead, Canvasback, and even a Tufted Duck a few years ago. American Coots are found in some years, and Bald Eagles are regularly seen. We’ll also be early enough this year for shorebirds, many quite rare inland except for here, such as White-rumped Sandpiper, along with more regular migrants such as Pectoral Sandpiper and Dunlin.

    After about 3 hours of birding here, visiting 3-4 viewing spots, we’ll head to our first brewery stop.

    Matt Johannes and Ben Low founded Side By Each Brewing in 2018 with the vision of creating a diverse range of beers that they are proud of. They have turned the 10,480-square-foot former Hammond Tractor building into a welcoming space that’s part brewery, part tasting room, and part cafe. Ben Low was Director of Brewing Operations at Baxter Brewing Co. in nearby Lewiston from shortly after its opening until 2017, after several years at Gritty McDuff’s in Portland, where he first brewed professionally after pursuing a Ph.D. in ancient Roman literature and history. Matty J was until recently the head brewer at Baxter Brewing Co. after a career in theater, including a stint as crew chief for Sesame Street Live. Matt and Ben earned professional brewing certification at the American Brewers Guild, and they love brewing and drinking just about any kind of beer. Side By Each’s unconventional name is an old Franco-American expression, a nod to the community that also gets at their venture, two guys making beer together.

    We’ll then head back south, arriving at Maine Beer Company in Freeport.

    Maine Beer Company was started by brothers Dan and Dave Kleban after learning how to brew at home on a $300 system they found on online. Their first location was started in 2009 at One Industrial Way in Portland, a location later occupied by the well-known Bissell Brothers brewery. The company has gained national attention from beer drinkers, particularly for Lunch – a popular India pale ale – and for its spiritual successor Dinner Double IPA. They moved their brewery to a brand new brewery in Freeport during early 2013, and eventually were brewing 13,000 barrels of beer a year on a 15-barrel brewhouse. They have just completed work on their newly expanded facility that has more than tripled their production volume. This has allowed them to turn their former brewing space into a new tasting room and pizza restaurant.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – check out the tour reports from our 2017 and 2015 outings, and this Facebook post from the 2016 trip.

    Book Fall Ducks and Draughts online now!

  • Chevron down "Rarity Roundup": Sunday, November 3, 2019
  • Sunday, November 3, 2019 – “Rarity Roundup” 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

    • Go on the hunt for the rarest birds in the area that day
    • Root Wild Kombucha, Portland
    • Goodfire Brewing Company, Portland

    Book “Rarity Roundup” online now!

    A brand-new itinerary for 2019, we’re going to try something a little different. Early November is a fantastic time of year in Maine for vagrants – birds normally seen in far-off places.  Due to a combination of weather patterns, changing seasonal food resources, falling temperatures, and other factors – some of which are not completely understood – birds that may have ended up in Maine by “accident” begin to concentrate at the coast in “migrant traps” and “hotspots.”  In other words, this is the time of year to expect the unexpected.

    A traditional “Rarity Roundup” involves teams of birders heading out on a given day during rarity prime time, looking for species that are not supposed to be around. And in honor of that tradition, that’s exactly what we are going to do on this unique tour. We may “chase” a rarity (go to see something that has already been found, aka “twitch”) or we might choose a destination known for rare birds in an attempt to find one of our own. Or perhaps, we’ll do both!

    Anything between Portland and Wells is fair game, unless something truly epic is a little further in a different direction. And we might not even know where we will head until we are on the bus and the latest rare bird alert is received. For those who love adding a bird to your Life or State List, and/or basking in the thrill of discovery, well then this is the tour for you! In between seeing great birds, we’ll discuss the complex factors that are involved in delivering rarities to an area, and how we go about finding them.

    After about 3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local breweries to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    Root Wild Kombucha was founded in 2018 by Reid Emmerich, a long-time kombucha brewer and former partner in Urban Farm Fermentory—along with Tom Madden and John Paul, co-founders of Lone Pine Brewing Co. Kombucha is a craft alcohol product that is made with fermented black and green tea. The result is a pleasing low-alcohol base product, to which they add locally foraged fruits, herbs, roots, and more. The 12 taps feature the brewery’s “core flavors” of kombucha on draft: Wild Blueberry, Ginger, and Vanilla Rooibos, along with tasty flavors in seasonal rotation. Alongside the kombucha are special beers brewed by Lone Pine for Root Wild that are also clearly a departure from the norm. Their goal is to blur the lines between their products and experiment with beer-kombucha blends. Root Wild is one of the first kombucha producers in the country to package their kombucha in 12-ounce aluminum cans to allow for greater distribution of their products.

    Goodfire Brewing is located in East Bayside, a well known hub within the booming craft alcohol industry of Portland. Founded by David Redding, a physician, they first poured their beers during 2017 Portland Beer Week and opened their tasting room doors shortly after. The comfortable 4,000 square foot space includes a private meeting and event room. The brewing equipment was produced by Tigpro, right here in Portland. The first beers produced by head brewer Gordon Jones were both takes on IPA’s, named Prime and Waves, and were surprisingly immediately available in cans by utilizing their own canning line.

    Book “Rarity Roundup” online now!