Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Coasting through Labor Day

September 3, Thursday

Headed into Maine in the morning with a good stop at Dix Notch State Park. A parking area along the highway let me poke into a little watershed. Made it to the coast at Freeport, the great gear emporium. Managed to resist any unnecessary purchase, hardest was a nice Northface two piece parka, but it was too small. I had to admit it was too small. One piece of good fortune to go with my small stature is that the last items left of any clothing or footwear design are often my size so shopping the remainders can be very good. Stopped by DeLorme to have them look at my PN40 GPS, which was behaving weirdly. Left it for them to check out. From there south to Scarborough Marsh which has often been really good, and it has knowledgeable folks at the Audubon Center for current news and tips. I ended up staying at Bradbury Mountain State Park, couldn't get the owls that the host told about, and the folks in the next site had noisy kids, but they eventually went to sleep.

September 4, Friday

Back to DeLorme to get the GPS, they said it was fixed, but it messed up as I was driving off, so I took it back again, and this time they said it had a cracked motherboard and gave me a new one. While they were fiddling with it I had a great day birding from Freeport to Biddeford, finding twelve new Maine tics. I ended up going back to the same state park since I couldn't find a better place in the area in spite of my habit of always trying new spots on the chance for new birds.

September 5, Saturday

And the beginning of Labor Day weekend. That ended up messing up several things, way too many people on the coast, beaches over-run, campgrounds full. And now, the tale of the skunk:

While working my way back down the coast to Scarborough I was poking through some suburban half commercial neighborhood trying to correct taking a wrong exit. There was a skunk in the road with its head stuck in one of those fast food cups with a lid with a hole large enough for a small skunk's head. I got out to study the situation since it was blinded and staggering around in the street. Followed it into a service drive and figured that I could yank it off quickly and retreat fast. That worked, but the retreat was really awkward since I was backpedaling like hell, and I fell down hard. Spots were sore for a couple of weeks. All was well though and I was almost to Scarborough and scoping the marsh from a spot on the west side along the highway. For some reason I wanted to refer to the iPod, and when I reached for it, it wasn't there. Figured out that it must have escaped when I fell down. So I had to drive back which would have been impossible in the warren of little streets I'd been on, except that I had the computer running a GPS track. As Always when recording a trip. So I found the place where I assumed someone had either found the Pod or run over it. Neither. It was laying in the driveway, with a new scratch or two, but working.

Back to finish up at Scarborough, then drive south out of Maine, with a stop at Rachel Carson NWR. I added 19 tics in Maine, making 30%. Way too much traffic. I had been hoping to stay at a great looking state park, Pawtuckaway, but it was literally over-run with folks. Snuck a shave in their men's room and worked my way further down the coast. It wasn't far to Parker River NWR in Massachusetts, and I spent some time there. Met a guy, Keith ?, taking photos from his truck, turned out badly crippled but very game. Truck had complex assistance gadgets. We talked and birded, and he mentioned an abandoned weigh station further south on the Interstate. I found it and it was perfect, though a little spooky. Got over to the back side and had a good quiet night's sleep with no lights.

September 6, Sunday

Up really early and into Salem to see the Old Seaport National Historic Site. Nothing was open, so I walked to the end of the wharf and back. Some folks were starting to clean the bathrooms. Studied the signs and checked out the construction details, tried to imagine the place full of sailing ships and commerce. O well. Hung around long enough to see the sunrise over the harbor. I drove on into and through Boston to a place called the Blue Hills, a forest preserve on some medium size uplands. I had read about them in a book called "Landscape with Reptile", the herp being a rattler. Made several birding stops, but it wasn't very birdy.

I followed the coast into Rhode Island, checked out the Block Island Ferry. No way I would go today, very busy and very long waits, and probably over-run on the Island. From there it was all the coastal National Wildlife Refuges, got some birds, mostly warblers, and then on down to the east end of the RI coast, but a place that might have been shorebird habitat was over-run also. Bad traffic and no parking. I retreated toward Providence, re-found a Panera where I had wifi and some food, then up to the northwest corner, less inhabited, and crashed at Black Hart WMA.

September 7, Monday

I was up around 3:30, beat the traffic to Cape Cod. Stopped at the Wellfleet Audubon Center, and out on the beach of the bight I found a bird that didn't ring a bell, yellow legs, but not a Yellowlegs, Lots of red on the body, two distinct white areas on the head above and below the bill. Detail was murky because of distance, but I stuck with it until it disappeared, and had a pretty good description by the end. When I got back to the Visitor Center I found the best shorebird person on duty, and she and I went over the markings. She finally agreed with me that the best fit was a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. That's a really good bird. Maybe six state records, mostly fall, and not ruled out by anything. She promised to spread the heads-up, but I never hear of anyone else re-finding it. I headed back toward the mainland, to Standish State Forest, my usual camping spot in that area. Geeked a couple of hours at a Panera, followed the directions of a desk girl to a great ice cream place (pistachio), called my friend Zinc to see about a visit the next day, which he said was OK, and birded and crashed at my campsite.


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