Few ABA area birds have haunted me more than two Scandinavian thrushes - Redwing and Fieldfare. Having grown up in the UK both species were familiar winterers, and migrants often occurred in spectacular flights of thousands (literally) during sustained migration watches carried out at my local park in Sheffield. The key period was late autumn but mid-winter flights or 'hard weather movements' would sometimes involve thousands of birds and rival the biggest days of fall migration. Outside of Atlantic Canada, there can be little doubt that the New England states offer slim but realistic opportunities for seeing both species. In fact, I've already narrowly missed chances to see a Fieldfare in Carlisle, Massachusetts (mid-March 2013) and a Redwing in Hollis, New Hampshire (mid-March 2018), both of which directly overlapped with my traditional spring migration tour in Israel. Needless to say, when I learned (last Saturday) of a Redwing being seen incredibly well in a city park in Portland, Maine, I became distinctly 'edgy' and waited patiently for a pause in family commitments before heading out towards the Maine Coast.
February 4th saw me join a modest group of no more than ten birders at Capisic Pond Park, Portland at about 09:45 am. Early reports from birders leaving the site had been favorable offering plenty of room for optimism. The day was warming up nicely with periods of bright sunshine and conditions simply 'felt' good. It wasn't long before the Redwing flicked from ground level up through the undergrowth but stayed faithful to its favored thicket. It put on the most fantastic show devouring Multiflora Rose berries right in front the assembled birders. After 20 minutes or so I was surprised to find myself alone with the Redwing, nothing short a surreal experience given its 'mega' status and not something I'd envisaged on the drive out. But there was the Redwing in plain sight, feeding and soft-singing only feet away with no one in the audience but myself! It seems that my field companions had already seen what they wanted to and moved on to chase the other rarities present within the park.