© Jeff Cherry
This fieldfare, a species typically seen in Europe and Asia, was spotted this week in Newcastle.
Sightings of really rare birds are typically reported only once or twice a year in Maine. But this week there were two in the span of three days in the midcoast region - sending birdwatchers into a mad dash to see two species that were far from their normal haunts and never before documented in Maine.

On Monday, a male vermilion flycatcher - a brilliant red-feathered bird typically found in the southwestern U.S., Mexico and South America, was spotted at the Maine Audubon retreat at Hog Island in Bremen. The bird was reported by a woman in Germany who spotted it via an osprey-watching website with a camera on Hog Island.

Six birders, including Maine Audubon's naturalist Doug Hitchcox, rushed to Bremen in time to see it. Hitchcox said they had about 10 minutes to view the flycatcher with spotting scopes from a quarter-mile away before it flew off from its perch on a boathouse roof.

Then Wednesday, while driving to his Damariscotta antique store at 7:30 a.m., Jeff Cherry became the hero of the day in Maine birding circles when he identified a fieldfare, a thrush native to northern Europe and Asia. It also qualified as a "state record" - a bird never before documented in Maine.

"That fieldfare made a crazy flight to get here," Hitchcox said. "With the flycatcher, a lot of birders go to Arizona or Texas - most serious birders do - so everyone eventually gets to see a vermilion flycatcher. But to have a bird come from somewhere in Europe and end up in rural Maine. It's just amazing."

Cherry, a birder since 1976, had seen a fieldfare in England in 1980. He realized what he was seeing in Newcastle was rare, so he acted quickly.

"I first stopped and used my binoculars to confirm it was something notable," he said. "Then I got my camera as quick as I could. The easiest way to document it is with a camera. It was in the distance, the lighting was off, vehicles going by could have scared it. All of that was going through my mind."

Vermillion Flycatcher Range Map