Friday, June 08, 2007

Maine, south and New Hampshire mop-up.

June 23, 2007

Got a quick pastry and coffee breakfast at the bakery where Showy worked, picked up some Wifi in the city park, and then headed sort of north to the mainland and then west. The first major stop was the Sidney Grasslands, which were Okay, but a lot of haying was going on with truck and machinery action, so the hoped for raptors were somewhere else. I did find an Eastern Kingbird, but that was the only new tic there. Bobolinks are nice anywhere, and now that I've spent time in country where the summer meadows are filled with their song, I feel cheated back home with just Eastern Meadowlarks. Not too far west of there Highway 11 crosses Belgrade Stream where I found Black Terns from the colony on the lake that feeds the stream. South west from there with some random stops and I got to Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary near Lewiston. It's a big enough place to get lost, and I did, so I spent a couple of hours on many trails through mostly hilly woodlands and some meadows. Very nice place, and probably even better during migration when the birds aren't dispersed on territories. Eventually I found a sign with a map, and figured how to get back to where I'd parked. Another twenty minute hike.

More wandering around and I got to Brownfield Bog. Put this on the don't miss list. The road in was poor, always a good sign, and eventually you come to a decrepit little shack and a parking area. I guess it's possible to drive further, but the birding on foot was great. It's one of those places where you keep wondering what's down there, or over there, and just keep walking. I even met some other birders, not experts, but we enjoyed watching a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker pair on their cavity nest. Other good birds were Yellow-throated Vireo, Wilson's Snipe, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Lincoln's Sparrow, and the only Black-billed Cuckoo of the trip. There were lots of Baltimore Orioles as well, the only ones in Maine. I spent about three hours there, and it was cooling off and getting on toward evening. The map showed some campgrounds in White Mountain National Forest a little ways north, so I headed there, making a stop at this attractive general store in Center Lovell. I just beat closing, and was able to get a good sandwich and some snacks. At the forest the campgrounds had a lot of folks, it was Saturday, and I chose to head back to a trail parking lot to sleep and listen for owls.

That was basically the end of Maine. I'd started with 6 species and ended with 121, having seen all the previous birds as well. 115 tics in five plus days.

June 24, 2007

I don't have very good notes for this day, probably because I was too tired to write much at the end. What I did was go west into New Hampshire where I still needed to find a few more species. Went basically south along the eastern edge of the state, and at one point jogged back into Maine to go to Lundholm Farm again to find the Least Terns, which were there after a long walk up the beach. And a lucky freebie was a Wild Turkey scratching in a flower bed of a yard along the entrance road. (these included in count above) Then back into NH keeping to the coast side of Portsmouth and checking out some sites I had noted in the mapping software. It worked really well. I found Blue Jay and Bluebird driving south, a couple of gulls at the shore, Bobolinks and some ducks and herons here and there. In all added twelve more species to make a healthy 108.

On into Massachusetts, and Parker River NWR, sometimes called Plum Island, more a spit than an island. It's a place I've gone repeatedly and found several lifers including a Reeve, ie a female Ruff, without a clue it was there. Just saw a red legged shorebird that caught my eye, and figured it out. The Mass list had a healthy start at 91, so I didn't feel too pressed. By the end of the day I was at 97, which shows how little birding got done. The problem was Boston, or at least the signs on the Highways of Boston. I missed a critical turn off the outer beltway, the GPS locked up which happens about once a week, and by the time I'd tried to make up for the mistake without knowing where I was, I'd taken a road into the heart of town that stopped being four lane after awhile. Then I was driving as I type, hunt and peck, very bird-like. At least it was Sunday, but still downtown local traffic, un-gridded streets, road repairs and a total urban experience. Probably lost about an hour getting back on the Thruway toward Cape Cod. I'd stayed at Miles Standish State Forest before, and it was till the best choice in the area. They have a most obtuse check-in procedure requiring driving to the far end on terrible roads to fill out long forms in an office, and then you might get lucky with a decent campsite. Or not. Mine was marginal, but at least near the showers. And it had got hot enough to be draining so my personal tank was about empty.


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