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+)

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 twelve great outings for 2018 in the fourth 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 still cost a mere $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 additional snack if you so desire. And dress appropriately for the weather;  it can change very quickly in Maine.

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

  • Migrants and Malts: Sunday, October 14, 2018
  • Sunday October 14, 2018 – Migrants and Malts 8:00am to 3:00pm

    • Fort Foster and Seapoint Beach, Kittery
    • Blue Current Brewery, Kittery
    • Tributary Brewing Company, Kittery

    Book Migrants and Malts online now!

    Migration is in full swing in early October, with a wide range of species on the move. The tail end of warbler and shorebird migration coincides with the increased movement of sparrows and other short-distance migrants. Raptors are also on the move, and the first of the migrant waterbirds begin to arrive. Early October is often also punctuated by the appearance of a rarity or two.  This trip will take us to the southernmost hotspots in the state, sampling a great diversity of habitats sought by migrant birds of all types.

    After 2-3 hours of birding, we will be transported to two of our great local producers to sample their offerings and learn their styles.

    The first stop after birding is Blue Current Sake Brewery in Kittery. Maine’s first sake brewery was founded by Dan Ford, a master sake taster and one of about a dozen American craft sake brewers. Sake — technically rice beer since rice is a grain rather than a fruit — is growing in popularity as Americans discover the beauty of well-made versions of the Japanese beverage, which should generally be served chilled. Naturally, Blue Current is honoring tradition while also putting a unique American spin on the classic drink.

    Our second stop will be Tributary Brewing Company. Even if you don’t know the name Tod Mott, you’ll know his handiwork. He’s the brewer who devised the Harpoon IPA recipe back in the early 90s, then went on to run the brewhouse at Portsmouth Brewing Company for many years. Finally, Mott and his wife Galen have taken the reins of their own project, where they’re drawing on Mott’s nearly 25 years of experience to run a rollicking little brewery in Kittery, the city’s first.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2017 and 2016 trip reports.

    Book Migrants and Malts online now!

  • Fall Ducks and Draughts: Sunday, November 18, 2018
  • Sunday November 18, 2018 – Fall Ducks and Draughts 9:00am to 3:30pm

    • Sabattus Pond/Androscoggin River/Auburn Riverwalk
    • Baxter Brewing Company, Lewiston
    • 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 abundant in some years, and Bald Eagles are regularly seen.

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

    Baxter Brewing Company was founded in a restored historic mill during 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, they are now Maine’s third largest.

    If time permits, we’ll take a break and look for more ducks, Peregrine Falcon, and perhaps an early Iceland Gull at the Auburn Riverwalk. 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 Bissell Brothers. They moved their brewery to a brand new brewery in Freeport during early 2013. The brewery has gained national attention from beer drinkers, particularly for Lunch – a popular India pale ale – and for its spiritual successor Dinner Double IPA. We will explore their newly expanded facility that was completed in early 2018 and has more than tripled their production volume.

    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!

  • 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
    • Bear Bones Brewery, 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 Bear Bones Beer, an independent nano-brewery located in downtown Lewiston, Maine with a focus on making high quality sustainable craft beer. The company was started in the spring of 2013 by Eben Dingman and Adam Tüüri. The two beer aficionados had been brewing individually for almost a decade when they decided to start collaborating with the goal of creating a delicious product with a business model based on sustainability. Their two-barrel system lies in the heart of Lewiston’s downtown, and their beer is now available in area restaurants and their tasting room is open to the public.

    Our next stop will be at Norumbega Farm 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.

    Book Farms and Fermentation online now!

  • Gulls and Growlers: Saturday, January 5, 2019
  • Saturday January 5, 2019 – Gulls and Growlers 9:00am to 3:30pm (TENTATIVE DATE)

    • Hatch Hill Landfill and Downtown Augusta Riverfront
    • Sebago Lake Distillery, Gardiner
    • Flight Deck 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.

    Our first stop is Sebago Lake Distillery. Distilling mixes science and art. It takes patience, an understanding of what happens during the fermentation process and a sense of what will make a good product. And while craft distilleries have been springing up in central and southern Maine, very few have opened in Central Maine area. Founded in Gardiner in 2017 by David Tomer, John Tyler, and featuring Master Distiller Dan Davis, Sebago Lake Distillery produces high-quality rum in their facility which is the former Water Street Grill. They are also creating other spirit products, including a coffee rum and a flavorful gin. Go behind the scenes to learn more about their young company, and where they are headed.

    Following a check of the Brunswick Landing area for Snowy Owls, we’ll then head to Flight Deck Brewing. Flight Deck was born in the summer of 2016, when co-founders Jared Entwistle and Nate Wildes saw an opportunity to bring a destination brewery to the college town of Brunswick, Maine. Entwistle, who previously worked at Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland, has been brewing since he was 18 by staying up all night and storing beer in a closet so his parents wouldn’t know. The town’s first craft brewery is located in a 4,500 square foot building that was previously the former Small Arms Range of the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Flight Deck has four fermentors and an entirely electric, seven-barrel brew house, which makes it the largest electric brewery in Maine, which we will learn about as we sip on their beers made from ingredients as exotic as sumac and as New England as blueberries.

    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!

  • Warblers and Wort: Sunday, May 6, 2018
  • Sunday May 6, 2018 – Warblers and Wort 8:00am to 2:00pm

    • Evergreen Cemetery and Capisic Pond Park, Portland
    • Sebago Brewing Company, Gorham
    • Mast Landing Brewing Company, Westbrook

    Book Warblers and Wort online now!

    May means warbler migration, and the new 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. 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.  

    While we’re a little early in the month for the largest diversity of warblers, early May could produce incredible numbers of some of the first arrivals, especially Palm and Yellow-rumped.  10-12 species of warblers are certainly possible by this early date, depending on the progression of the season. However, other migrants, 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 already blooming, we may be in for quite a treat as these are absolute magnets for hungry migrants.  

    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.

    The first stop is the brand new Sebago Brewing Company facility in Gorham. Founded in 1998, Sebago Brewing has become Maine’s premier contemporary American brewpub and one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the state. With four pubs located throughout Southern Maine, and an impressive brand new production facility in Gorham, they clearly demonstrate a refusal to stay with traditions that often can be found in a company with 20 years in the business. The new 31,000 square foot brewery and a four vessel, fully-automated, 40-barrel brewhouse more than doubles the size of the facility that had produced their beers for a dozen years. The need for this new modern brewery was made clear with amazing growth over the past several years of their year-round core beers, five seasonal beers and several highly anticipated, limited-edition Single Batch Series beers.

    We next will visit Mast Landing Brewing Company. the very first brewery to locate in the City of Westbrook. They were founded in March of 2016 by Ian Dorsey and Neil Fredrick, friends and alums of the University of Maine. They first started homebrewing together in a Freeport garage on a very small 1-barrel rig. That kit started them in off in Westbrook, but they quickly outgrew that in order to meet demand in Maine and now in Massachusetts. Their location in a massive former tire manufacturing facility has given them plenty of space to grow. They focus on brewing beers that are often light in malt character, but fully flavorful with multiple varieties of hops.

    Book Warblers and Wort online now!

  • Grassland and Grains: Sunday, June 3, 2018
  • Sunday June 3, 2018 – Grassland and Grains 8:00am to 2:30pm

    • Kennebunk Plains
    • Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company, Lyman
    • Stone Fort Distilling, 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 visit a historic Civil War-era textile mill in Biddeford where find one of Maine’s newest distilleries, Stone Fort Distillery. Founded in 2017 by Eric Bouchard, Stone Fort is producing hand crafted vodka and whiskey from their 300 gallon copper still. The founder also is an electrician that owns his own business, and handy skills certainly will be helpful for the future plans of this new distillery.

    To get an idea about what’s in store – both in the birding and beverage departments – check out the 2017 and 2016 trip reports.

    Book Grassland and Grains online now!

  • Terns and Taps: Sunday, July 8, 2018
  • Sunday July 8, 2018 – Terns and Taps 9:00am – 3:30pm

    • 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 2017 report.

    Book Terns and Taps online now!

  • Shorebirds and Steins: Sunday, August 19, 2018
  • Sunday August 19, 2018 – Shorebirds and Steins 9:00am to 3:00pm

    • Scarborough Marsh
    • 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 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 and wind.

    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 announced they had purchased the former Sebago Brewing brewing facility in Gorham, a move which has 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 2016 trip report from the two tours we ran. And here’s the recap of the inaugural Birds on Tap – Roadtrip! outing from 2015.

    Book Shorebirds and Steins online now!

  • “Sod-pipers” and Sips: Sunday, September 9, 2018
  • Sunday September 9, 2018 – “Sod-pipers” and Sips 8:00am to 3:00pm

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

    Book “Sod-pipers” and Sips online now!

    Our second brand-new tour of 2018 takes us 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.

    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.

    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 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.

    The second stop is TBD.

    Book “Sod-pipers” and Sips online now!