Monday, 7 April 2014

A weekend in coastal Maine.

On Saturday 6th April, Barbara & I set out to drive north into central Maine. Our first stop was Biddeford Pools, a little bit further north than the area we explored last weekend. The weather was dull, overcast, cold and very windy, but we parked the car & set out to explore the area.
 The coastline here is an interesting mix of rocky
 offshore marine habitat, scrubby headlands
& a nice beach.
 We saw a Northern Harrier on the island.
 Lots of Loons & sea duck inshore.
The fabulous beach, which is great for.....
Yes! You got it!
Piping Plovers!
 We found the sign hilarious!
What a combination of signs!
Why should one beware of Piping Plovers?
Are they really dangerous to humans?

 We walked along the coast on to a headland, which was a small nature reserve. We had good views across to an island & along the coast. All the way along the coast, were exposed rocks, which looked interesting but we didn't see much on them! However, there were good numbers of sea duck & Common Loons close inshore:
18 Common Loon; 1 Horned Grebe; 1 Double-crested Cormorant; 23 Great Cormorant; 1 Greater Scaup; 180+ Common Eider; 65+ Long-tailed Duck; 50+ White-winged Scoter; 45+ Black Scoter; 4 Surf Scoter; 15 Common Goldeneye; 10 Bufflehead; 15 Red-breasted Merganser; 35+ Purple Sandpiper. There was also a very cold looking Barn Swallow perched on a wire. It is very early. I hope it survives!
 Scarborough Marsh.
 One of the last remaining & very important,
 saltmarshes left in Maine.
 Everything was very distant,
 hence the lack of photos of birds!
Photo courtesy of Barbara.
Some good forest habitat around the edges of the marsh.

We then drove a little further north to Scarborough Marsh. Even though the sun had now come out, it was now blowing a gale & made birding difficult. Great Blue Heron & 3 Great Egrets were seen, along with large numbers of Canada Geese; American Black Duck & Mallard. 9 Pintail & around 25 Green-winged Teal were also seen. Overhead, were single Turkey Vultures & an Osprey.

 Me, tucking in!
Photo courtesy of Barbara.
Yet another wild animal bites the dust in my food quest!
Photo courtesy of Barbara.

After a quick look around Portland (which looks a nice town by the way), we drove further north & east towards Rockport. We made a pit stop at a cheery diner, where I enjoyed a bison burger! Yet another in a long list of exotic animals that I have eaten!
 Even though the weather wasn't the best,
the views were still stunning from Beech Hill.
Just before the rain hit & we beat a hasty retreat!
Photo courtesy of Barbara.

 We made a late afternoon stop at Beech Hill Preserve, but by now it was very dark, rain threatened & it did rain quite hard just before we made it back to the car. We quickly walked up the trail to the top of the hill, which revealed a magnificent view over the surrounding coast & nearby islands. It would have been a memorable walk on another day, in better conditions. No birds of note were seen.
Our bed for the night - the comfortable
Windward House in Camden.

As the elements were against us, we called it a day & went to check in to Windward House, our accommodation for the night. Very comfortable it was too, with a small sitting room just off the main bedroom, with a nice fire to read in front of. We enjoyed a pleasant evening & after a hearty breakfast the next morning, we drove a little further north to the very picturesque harbour town of Belfast.
 Belfast Harbour, with some splendid tugboats.
 This coastal town has undergone a
 recent revival of fortunes
 & today is a busy ship
 maintenance location.
Barbara is only there for scale, of course!
 Barbara, don't press that button!
View from the harbour - a good mix of habitats.

I was looking for white-winged gulls to photograph, but nothing of note was seen. After a brief interlude in a second hand bookshop, we started the long drive south again.

Camden Harbour, on our way back south.
It is easy to see why Barbara likes the area so much.
 Popham Beach.
 The very nice beach.

Our final port of call was Popham Beach which was the original colony of the Pilgrim Fathers, but it didn't last of course. It turned out to be a charming little piece of coast, with a very nice beach.
 Barbara, birding?
Nope, looking at a very nice yacht!

 We walked along the beach seeing a few sea duck & many Common Loons, as well as a scattering of seals. A fine adult Bald Eagle flew over & then sat in a distant tree. Barbara was particularly thrilled with this sighting.
 The fort, which dates back to the
 American Civil War.
Looking inland from the fort.

We had a final look around the old fort dating from the American Civil War period & then it was time to head for home. We arrived back in Boston around 11pm after another very good, but short weekend.

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