On Friday, July 6th we drove to Maine to visit family and celebrate the 4th of July. While waiting for the family to gather my I decide to pass the time by driving down to Oosoola Park in Norridgewock, to watch birds. My sister-in-law, Rita, comes along for the ride and relaxes in the car with a wonderful view of the river while I get out and wander around the grassy meadow, river bank, and playground.
Oosoola Park is located along the banks of the Kennebec River on Routes 2 and 201 near the junction with Route 139 and Route 8. It is a public park with a boat launch, picnic tables and a playground. While I have come here to count birds before, it has mostly been in the wintertime when birds are scarce. Then, the last 3 months when I came to Maine I neglected to visit the park but instead went birding along the Sandy River. I now regret that decision after seeing all the birds I saw today. As an avid eBirder I have learned how valuable data is over time. I do not think many people count birds in Norridgewock, ME and I don’t know if anyone else counts them here. I like to count birds where no one else is counting them. It makes me feel like I am doing something important and long lasting. Until today, my biggest count for this location was 7 species of birds. Today I hit 18 species and I am sure that list would have grown if I could have stayed longer!
While this is a reliable location for seeing Bald Eagles, especially in the mornings or on cloudy days, it is also a good spot to find ducks. Today I see these mallards before I even finish parking the car. They were paddling down the river but by the time I put the car in park and don my birding gear they have made their way to this sand bar and settle in for a good preening and a nap.
However, I do not need to wait for long before some fluttering and warbling draws me to this tree near the parking lot where I find three warbling vireos! Just as I am getting a good look at them a huge truck pulling a boat on a trailer pulls in raising a cloud of dust and I have to move. So I wander across the meadow to a wetland area where I saw and heard some common yellowthroats and catbirds. I stand near the edge of the tall grasses looking at birds in the sunlight, feeling at peace with myself, and so glad that I came.
As I am enjoying these birds the truck that had the boat and chased me away from one spot has already unloaded it into the river. The driver has now decided he needs to circle around right where I am standing to park! So, I step out of the way again, then walk over to a backwater pond where I have seen a Belted Kingfisher before. I soon hear its rattling call and then see it fly up onto a high branch over the water. However, I am soon distracted by some motion right in the tree over my head. I looked up to see this adorable yellow warbler peeking down at me through the leaves! It hopped in and out of the twigs and leaves and showed me its backside several times. Meanwhile in the bushes surrounding the backwater pond I see a catbird parent hop up on a small branch and stuff an insect into the open beak of its waiting fledgling. Then a chickadee dives into the brush while a song sparrow flies out onto the ground, then up onto a perch to sing! In a nearby tree I spot pair of White-breasted nuthatches “yank, yanking” along as they walk upside down the trunk. It is while I am watching the nuthatches that my cell phone rings. It is Gus calling to tell me the rest of the family has arrived and he wants to know if I am ready to go pick up pizza! NO! I am just getting started I explain. I need more time! I am seeing so many birds! I tell him I will call him back in a few minutes. As I am hanging up a woodpecker-like bird flies across the open grass of the playground from the trees near the pond to the trees near the bank of the river. I stuff my cell phone in my back pocket and quickly follow suspecting I am seeing something special, and indeed I am! but just then I hear a voice coming from my back pocket asking me if I am happy with my message or if I would like to change it! i pull the cell phone from my pocket only to discover I have accidently called my mother’s cell phone! Now how did THAT happen? I hang up the phone and head across the lawn.
I soon locate the black and white bird on the trunk of a small tree. It is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! A juvenile I think since it doesn’t seem to have its full color on its head and it looks a little bedraggled and still a bit downy.
There are no children playing in the park today, so it is very peaceful and quiet. While there are people in the boating in the river, or playing with their dogs near the boat launch, I have the rest of the park to myself.
While standing here on the bank of the river an Eastern Kingbird flies up to a tall tree. Over the river I can see swifts and a few swallows, but the swallows are flying into the setting sun and I cannot identify them for sure.
Everything is so green and lush here along the river where an Eastern Phoebe is keeping me company!
I realize that I cannot stay here forever and that others are waiting for me to bring back pizza, so I start to head for the car, but as I do I see two small birds on some bare branches at the top of a small tree. I raise my bins for a better look and they fly over to the tall pines along the riverbank. They creep out into the open along the branches and I am able to get a somewhat better view of two purple finches, a male and a female and I am just thrilled!
It is with a contented heart that I climb back into the car where Rita is waiting for me. I call Gus and tell him he can order the pizza, then I count up the bird species I have seen. 18 species! I cannot believe it! It isn’t until I enter this data into eBird however that I discover that I have added 11 new species to my Life List for this location! I am stunned. Since we try to come up here at least once a month I will make sure that I stop here to count birds the next time I am here. I don’t know if it will be a Birding Bonanza next time, but how will I know if I don’t try?
Birds seen at Oosoola Park on July 6, 2012:
- Mourning Dove
- Chimney Swift*
- Belted Kingfisher
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker*
- Eastern Phoebe*
- Eastern Kingbird
- Warbling Vireo*
- American Crow
- Black-capped chickadee*
- White-breasted Nuthatch*
- Gray Catbird
- Cedar Waxwing*
- Common Yellowthroat*
- Yellow Warbler*
- Song Sparrow
- Purple Finch*
- American Goldfinch*
*New species for this location!