Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Curtis Farm Preserve

Since moving to Harpswell, Maine I have been attempting to explore the area around me. I have discovered that there are several properties that are part of the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, or HHLT. I have already written about Mitchell Field and Skoldfield Shores. Well, earlier this fall on a Sunday afternoon while my husband was watching football I went out for a hike on the Curtis Farm Preserve property that is just south of Mitchell Field on Route 123. The property is well marked with signs by the edge of the road. I pulled into the parking area and donned my birding gear and headed out.

There is a trail around the field and another that leads through the woods and down to the coves. It is a 1.5 mile hike one-way down to the coves, so I headed that way. My path took me along the edge of the field and into the woods. It was a mild day with few insects and patchy sunshine. I could already see the lengthening shadows of fall. Tall oaks and maples towered over me and I felt small and alone in the world. As far as I knew, I was the only one there. When I first parked the car I was startled as a merlin flew over my head. After that the birds I saw were few and far between with some lengths of the trail being silent, but I attributed that to the time of year and the time of day, since it was late afternoon when I started.

In some places I crossed foot bridges like this one.

Mt. Washington can be seen on a clear day!

In another spot I came to a bit of a rise where I could see clear across Middle Bay, and according to the information at the trailhead, that is Mount Washington in the distance! The trail then descended down, down deeper into the forest. Soon I was on flat land in deep shadows winding my way through trees. In places the trail was muddy and I crossed several of those split log bridges, but eventually the ground beneath my feet became gravely and I emerged into Curtis Cove.

Curtis Cove 9-20-15
A sandy beach curved away from me on both sides. Waves lapped at the shore. Nearby was a little bench. I could see this would be the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch and sit, or bring my grandkids for a walk. In the summer they could play on this gently slopping shore. And while a 1.25 mile hike down through a forest seems a bit far to hike with swimming stuff, there is another parking lot located on Basin Cove Road which is only a short .25 mile walk on flat land to the cove!

Far across the cove I could see the pier at Mitchell Field!

The pier at Mitchell Field

It was while I was hiking back through the lower part of the forest that I had my best encounter of the day.

I was hiking though a boggy area past several of these uprooted trees when I heard a little trill and saw a small brown flash. The shadows were deep and the light was low from the setting sun but I froze in my tracks and to my surprise and delight I discovered first one, then two, then three little Winter Wrens flitting about on the forest floor and climbing over roots and moss covered limbs. I even watched one climb into a little "cave" in the roots of one of the trees. Later I learned that the scientific name of a Winter Wren means "cave dweller"! Imagine that! I have only seen Winter Wrens a few times in my life and this by far was my most delightful and rewarding encounter with them. My only frustration was that even though the birds were quite close to me, the light was so low that I could not get very clear pictures of them!

Still, it inspired me to write a little poem and I posted more photos of them in the previous post. It is called:

Here are some helpful links:

Notes: Please excuse the formatting issues as Live Writer is no longer working and the blogger interface is a bit more difficult to work with. If I knew HTML I know I could figure this out, but I do not have time to mess with it right now! Using regular blogger will take me much more time and energy as I will now have to re-size all my photos before posting and insert all my links each time. Live Writer is much more user friendly! There is some hope that it may yet be revived, but I sure wish that Microsoft still supported it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

In the Realm of the Winter Wren

In the dark forest

in the thick trees

in the deep shadows

a small creature moves

and all you observe

is a tiny brown blur

 until it hopes up on a stump

its tiny tail cocked

and gives you an inquisitive eye

while you pause in your tracks

in the soft forest duff

you know you are in a magical place

with ferns growing thick

around uprooted trees

the home of this "cave dweller"

and you should be pleased

it is a blessing from Nature herself

to enter the Realm of this little brown elf!

These images were captured at the 

in Harpswell, Maine on September 20, 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Skolfield Shores

1. DSC_0959 Skolfield Shores 9-14-2015
September 14, 2015: Ever since moving to Harpswell I have made it my mission to take advantage of the time I have here and explore the area. One of the places I was able to hike and bird at before hunting season started was Skolfield Shores. It is a nature preserve off Route 123 in Harpswell. I had driven by the parking lot several times, but finally pulled in and parked on September 14th. There is a lot more to the preserve but I only took the short hike to the shore to see what I could see. I knew that shorebirds were migrating back then and was hoping I would see some. The trail led me through a yard and past houses and down through some trees, before opening up into a meadow and emerging at the shore.
2. Middle Bay-0955 From there I had a marvelous view of the Middle Bay.

3. greater yellowlegs-kab And I did find a greater yellowlegs searching for prey on the shore!

4. little trail-kab It was low tide, so I was able to walk out on this little path to those rocks.

5. north up the cove-kab This is the view looking north up Middle Bay.

6. across the bay-kab Somewhere on that side is Barnes Landing!

7. great blue heron-kab Just before I left, a Great Blue Heron flew in to fish the shoreline.
Then it was time to turn back and climb the stairs into the woods and across the meadow on my return trip. I have not been back since. During hunting season I was afraid to go into the woods for fear of getting shot, but now that hunting season is over I hope to go exploring again. I did not think I would have this opportunity, but we are having such mild weather that I may still be able to do it! We have not had any snow yet here in Harpswell, so I feel I am being given a gift. I just have to get used to going out birding in the middle of the day since it gets dark by 4:30 PM!
8. stairs-kab

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Day of Birds at Reid State Park

DSC_0569 Common Eider hens and ducklings 7-22-2015

I like to go to Reid State Park in Georgetown, Maine to bird. I never know what I will find, but it is always beautiful and always surprising! On this fine summer day in July I got my closest look ever at eider ducklings.

DSC_0570 These were on the rocks at Half-mile Beach.


DSC_0573 Ring-billed Gull walking on the sand.


DSC_0576 There is a sandpiper hiding at the edge of this grassy hummock.


DSC_0577 Do you know what it is?


DSC_0581 Sunset at Reid State Park 7-22-15

I was looking for sanderlings but didn’t find any. Still, It was a fun afternoon of birding with 25 species counted and I am glad I went. I am still learning my shorebirds and I find it quite a challenge!



Bay Bridge Landing, A Place to Bird

1. Yellow warbler-kab Yellow Warbler at Bay Bridge Landing 6-12-15

Bay Bridge Landing in Brunswick, Maine is a sweet place to bird. Tucked in behind a mobile home neighborhood and a business you would never know it was there. A fellow birder told me about it last year and I have now birded here a few times, often taking my lunch along and sitting on one of the benches near the river to eat while I watch birds.

2. river wetlands-kab Bay Bridge Landing sits on a bend in the Androscoggin River at the south end of Merrymeeting Bay. It has a backwater cove that becomes a marshland providing excellent habitat for birds. In the summer I see blackbirds, warblers, flycatchers, cormorants, herons and gulls here. They are osprey nesting on the platforms provided for them. There is a little island with a trail that used to be connected by a couple of bridges but the bridges have fallen into disrepair, so you can no longer get to the island. You can follow the trail up one side, then double back and around to get to the other side.

3. GBHE-kab Still, it doesn’t stop you from seeing the herons when they fly over!


4. path-kab This is the trail closest to the river and you can sit on this bench and watch birds.


5. EAPH-kab I found this sweet Eastern Phoebe farther up the trail near the bridge.


6. yellow warbler-kab Finding this male Yellow Warbler was also a delight!

As you can see, he was quite busy gathering food to feed his very hungry brood!

You can tell it is a male by the rusty streaks on its breast.

7. butterfly-kab You can also find a few butterflies at Bay Bridge Landing!

As regular readers of this blog will know, I often like to bird around parking lots and on this particular day I needed to stop at the nearby Tractor Supply on my way home. While there, I also counted birds.

8. osprey nest near Tractor supply-kab I found that a pair of osprey were building a nest on the utility poles. At a later date I actually saw parents with nestlings in this nest!

9. COYE-kab In some brush at the edge of the parking lot I found a Common Yellowthroat!


10. SOSP-kab …along with a Song Sparrow to boot!

Bay Bridge Landing is found in Brunswick, Maine off the Old Bath Road near Cook’s Corner. Follow signs for Bay Bridge Estates. After entering the park on Driscoll Street, turn left at the stop sign and follow Bay Bridge Road Road past an industrial building to the end where there is a parking lot.

Follow these links to find out more:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oh, the Places I’ve Been!

1. 10-20-15 MR bird sanctuary View from the Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary in Estes Park, CO

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I recently had the opportunity to fly to Colorado and go birding with my best birding buddy, Chris Rohrer. I had not seen him since last summer when he came to visit me and I was so happy to see him again!

2. 10-19-22 Jim Hamm Nature Center But before I joined him in Estes park, I stopped in Longmont to bird at the Jim Hamm Nature Preserve on the east side of town.

3. 10-19-15 three friends When I got to Estes Park my other birding buddy, Kathryn Kelley was there and she joined us at the cabin where Chris met her for the first time! TWO birding buddies! I couldn’t be happier!

5. 10-20-15 elk on golf course The next day Chris and I went to downtown Estes Park and the Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary where we saw plenty of elk as well as birds!


6. 10-20-15 The alluvial fan area of Rocky Mountain NP All of these huge boulders were deposited here after the most recent flood of 2013 at the alluvial fan in Rocky Mountain National Park.

7. 10-20-15 Long's Peak Long’s Peak as seen from Many Parks Curve in Rocky Mountain NP 10-20-15


8. 10-22-15 crows Every morning we had a Murder of over 40 crows around our cabin.

No, we did not kill them. A “murder’ is the collective noun for crows!

9. 10-22-15 crows and stellar's jay We also had Black-billed Magpies and Stellar’s Jays!

We looked and looked for Gray Jays but never found them.

10. 10-22-15 mule dear in Rocky Mountain NP However, Mule Deer were easily seen within Rocky Mountain National Park!


13. 10-22-15 elk in snow And snow covered elk were seen in the field right next to our cabin!


12. 10-22-15 Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain NP Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

We tried to find Gray Jays here, but all we found were a couple of ducks and a chickadee!

13. 10-22-15 Chris is not cold Chris says he loves this weather and he is not cold.

I’m not sure I believe him!

14. 10-23-15 birding with chris on the last dayChris in full birding mode at McIntosh Reservoir in Longmont, CO 

On our last morning in Colorado we managed to find an hour to bird at McIntosh Reservoir in Longmont. We were on our way to the airport with Chris’ family and after filling my rental car with gas we grabbed some sandwiches at Subway and while the rest of the family had a picnic, Chris and I bolted for the shore and started birding. I wanted tog et my Western Grebes and this is where they had been spotted. We saw small dots at the western end of the lake and of course we were at the Eastern end. We walked about halfway down until we could clearly see them. I could not get photos because my camera was broken but Chris got some for me. I could have stayed there all day, or all week or for the rest of my life, but we had to get back. I had a plan to catch and so did the rest of his family. So, we made ourselves turn around and return.

15. leaving DIA 10-23-15 And then I flew away…

Once back in Maine I went birding at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland.

16. 10-26-15 the orange at evergreen cemetery Evergreen was very orange on this particular day! 10-26-15


17. 10-26-15 Such beauty in Nature I was looking for an American Widgeon that had been seen in the ponds, but I never found it, though I saw that others did and reported it on eBird.

18. 10-31-15 Papermill pond A couple days later I went birding at the Paper Mill Trail in Lisbon 10-31-15.

Gus came with me and we followed the trail as far as the school and back to the main parking lot, but it was the middle of the day and we did not see many birds. Still, the Autumn foliage was lovely. Maine is a very beautiful state.

19. 10-31-15 Paper Mill Trail Little Sabattus River The Little Sabattus River runs alongside the Paper Mill Trail.

On November 2nd i headed to Connecticut but stopped in Massachusetts to get new tires on my car. While waiting for them to be changed, Of course I went birding! I walked to a nearby park in Wilmington, Massachusetts where I have counted birds at least one other time when I lived nearby. It is called Rotary Park and it has a small pond with a nature trail around it.

20. 11-2-15 Rotary park in Wilmington, MA The pond at Rotary Park in Wilmington, MA


21. 11-2-15 open hearted willow The “open-hearted” Willow Tree!

22. 11-2-15 on the trail around the pond The flaming tree along the trail.

23. 11-2-15 at the edge of the woods Rotary park The little creek in the woods.

Once in Connecticut I birded all around Colchester. I was able to bird at Cohen Meadows on two separate days, thus adding to the eBird data for this location. It is such a pretty spot and I saw a wide variety of birds here. I do not know why more people do not come and bird here!

24. 11-3-15 the big pond at Cohen meadows This is the larger of two ponds on the property.

The first day I stopped here there was a large flock of geese on the pond and more flew in as I watched until there were around 200 Canada Geese! I also saw and heard a Red-shouldered Hawk giving its eerie cry as it flew above the tree line. There was no shortage of woodpeckers here, and I counted Northern Flickers, Downy, Pileated, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers here, as well as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!

25. 11-3-15 the last leaves of autumn Cohen Nature Preserve The early morning light was glorious!


26. 11-3-15 Pine tree cathedral In this pine tree cathedral I searched for but did not find Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Before Mom’s cataract surgery on November 5th I had time to go birding in the morning, so I took a drive around Lake Hayward. It was a mild, November day and so soft and beautiful under the steel wool skies.

27. 11-5-15 Lake hayward CT Lake Hayward as seen from East Shore Drive 11-5-15

28. 11-5-15 New England woods The woods around Lake Hayward.

Then, while Mom was in her surgery I went birding at nearby Harkness Memorial State Park. It was much better than sitting in a waiting room watching boring TV! I did not think I would get the chance to bird near the ocean in Connecticut, but I did! And I was almost back to the surgery center when I got the call that she was done.

29. 11-5-15 autumn at harkness Along the roadside.

30. 11-5-15 the beach at Harkness The beach at Harkness 11-5-15

31. 11-5-15 Harkness Memorial SP Picnic Area at Harkness Memorial SP

32. 11-5-15 Gingko trees at harkness Golden Gingko Trees at Harkness Memorial SP

33. 1-5-15 Fitchville Pond I ended the day counting birds at Fitchville Pond in Bozrah, CT.

The next day I headed back to Maine after doing a few more errands with my mom. It did not leave me much time, but I managed to stop by Plum Island a hour and a half before the sunset where I finally got my American Widgeons! No photos for now, but I hope to post some later.

34. 11-6-15 Plum IslandSunset at Sandy Point State Reservation 11-5-15

It was uncommonly warm on Friday with a southerly breeze and temps in the low 70’s! it was so warm that I took off my shoes and walked on the beach in my flip flops!  What a fun time I had, even though it was short and it was dark by the time I left. I had a long two hour drive home in the car, but I was glad I took the chance and went to Plum Island. It only made me want to go back again, for I know that there are place there that I have yet to explore!

Here are my eBird Checklists for all these places I birded:

35. 11-6-15 warm feet

You can read Chris Rohrer’s Posts by clicking on the links below: