New England: Fall’s Gold October 2022

Comprising the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, New England is world famous for the beauty of its autumnal colours. As the days shorten and the nights begin to chill, the leaves ‘turn’ and large swathes of the trees are transformed into a patchwork of yellow, gold and red. The colours of the ‘fall’ are a spectacle in themselves and a special highlight of this new Limosa tour.

As luck would have it, this also coincides the best of the late autumn’s bird migration along the New England coast, as flocks of wildfowl stream South to escape the harsh Canadian winter and they are joined by shorebirds, woodpeckers, warblers, finches and sparrows, with movements offshore of seabirds such as Great and Cory’s Shearwaters.

 

We have chosen to stay at three picturesque and diverse locations on our tour: Amesbury and Cape Cod in Massachusetts and Concord in New Hampshire. Though many of the names of the surrounding towns will sound strangely familiar, Manchester, Nottingham, Ipswich, Salisbury and Portsmouth, the birds will be very different!

 

We should find three species of scoter, Surf, Black and the recently ‘split’ White-winged Scoter, along with bays and pools packed with Common Eider and Double-crested Cormorants, as well as Greater Yellowlegs, ‘American’ Dunlin and both Grey and Semipalmated Plovers. Northern Harriers float above golden saltmarsh grasses and are sometimes joined by powerful ‘Tundra’ Peregrine Falcons or menacing Merlins.

 

Patches of pines and open grasses host Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, as well as sparrows such as Song, Savanna, Saltmarsh, Chipping and White-throated. The North American warblers will still be moving South and amongst the yellow-rumped Myrtle Warblers, we could well find Palm, Blackpoll and Black-throated Green.

 

After flying into Boston, an hour to the northeast will bring us to Amesbury, where we spend our first three nights. Located close to the Merrimack River and within a few miles of the Atlantic coast, we will explore the bird-rich local habitats of sweeping bays and promontories.

 

Leaving the coast, we cross into New Hampshire and head towards the state capital of Concord. During our three nights at Bow, we will visit White Mountain National Forest, where the shortening days and falling temperatures have a dramatic effect on the colours of the trees. In the ‘fall’, the foliage changes from a sea of lush greens into a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, yellows and golds. No two years are alike, so there is an unpredictability of precisely when the forests will achieve peak colour, but we hope that our timing will be perfect to enjoy the best displays. The locals call it ‘leaf peeping’ but this underplays the dramatic beauty of the views across the valleys and mountains.

 

Nearby forests are home to a rich variety of woodland birds including everything from Blue Jays and Golden-crowned Kinglets to ‘Disney-esque’ Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadee, as well as woodpeckers such as the huge Pileated. The Merrimack River acts as a migration corridor, channelling Myrtle Warblers, Cedar Waxwings and huge flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds, while the vireos might include both Blue-headed and Red-eyed, as well as a variety of American sparrows.

 

Full of the joys of autumn, we return southeast to the picturesque seaside resort of Cape Cod. This 90km long ‘hook’ of pine forest and sand dunes boasts several local sites where we can enjoy the varied birdlife. We will spend our final three nights exploring this jutting coastal peninsula, enjoying the spectacle of vast flocks of Common Eider and all three scoter species, again often at close range, plus the shorebirds in the bays. In the right conditions, migration at Race Point can bring shearwaters, skuas and terns close inshore and there is always a chance of something rarer….

 

Guide Chris Charlesworth reccied this trip for us in autumn 2019 so join him in October 2022 for a chance to experience the gorgeous autumnal foliage and all the excitement of the season’s southbound bird migration on Limosa’s all new New England tour.

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