American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Great Knot – Maine

On July 23, puffin researcher Keenan Yakola found and photographed an ABA Code 4 Great Knot on the restricted Seal Island in Knox County, Maine. This is a 1st record for Maine and only the second record of this East Asian species in the eastern part of the continent.

Seal Island is part of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and is a restricted to the public.  It was used as a bombing range in the middle of last century and unexploded ordinance is still present on the island making it unsafe for visitors. It is the site of a large seabird colony and is perhaps most famous as the site of a large, and successful, initiative to reintroduce an Atlantic Puffin colony to the coast of Maine.

Great Knot is a fairly common East Asian migratory shorebird, breeding in northeast Russia and wintering primarily in Australia. However, its global population has seen a significant decline in the last decade as development of the famous Yellow Sea tidal area in eastern China, a critical stopover area for many species of shorebird, has greatly impacted this and other species.

This largest of the Calidris shorebirds is most frequent in the ABA Area in Alaska, where it is a rare migrant on St Lawrence and the Seward Peninsula (including this year), and exceptional in the Aleutians and Pribilofs. There are at least two records away from Alaska, from Oregon (1990) and West Virginia (2007), the latter one of the most bizarre bird records in the ABA Area. Additionally, there are 3 additional reports from Washington and British Columbia, and a famous “Surfknot” recorded in two non-consecutive summers in southern California, that was presumed to be a hybrid between Great Knot and Surfbird.