Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Rare Sighting

I'm just back from a Saturday morning birdwalk with Derek Lovitch who, with his wife Jeanette, are proprietors of the Freeport Wild Bird Supply. A large group of us gathered at 8AM and went over to the Bayview Estuary Preserve in Yarmouth. The preserve encompasses thirty-five acres of undeveloped land along the Royal River, including one-half mile of river frontage, forested uplands, and salt and freshwater wetlands. 

Surveying the marsh along the river front, Derek spotted what he presumed to be a Marbled Godwit, an exceptionally rare sighting in the spring along the coast of Maine. He sent one of the group to fetch his spotting scope from the car, as Derek wondered whether the bird might even be a Bar-tailed Godwit, an even greater rarity, perhaps even a Maine record. The bird flew across the river and settled on the mudflat on the far shore to feed among several Greater Yellowlegs. On closer examination, Derek confirmed that it was the Marbled Godwit.

For many, if not most in the group, it was a life bird. As I refer now to my nifty Cornell Laboratory Of Ornithology Birder's Life List and Diary, I note that I have not previously seen the Marbled Godwit. (I saw its cousin, the Hudsonian Godwit, at the Parker National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island in July of 1989.) So it's a life bird for me as well!

A large shorebird with a long, upturned two-toned bill, the Marbled Godwit breeds in the northern prairies and winters along the coasts. We lined up at Derek's scope, waiting for a better look at the bird. Satisfied that we had all had a good look, we moved on up into the woods and along the freshwater pond where we saw several species of warblers: Black-and- white, Yellow-rumped, Palm, Black-throated Green, and Ovenbird. The usual suspects--Red-breated Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Titmouse, Chickadee, Hairy Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Purple Finch--were all out in great abundance. Tree swallows dove for insects as they cruised along the marsh. Red-winged blackbirds kept sentinel on fenceposts by the river front. We could hear a Kingfisher "rattling" in the distance. And an added treat: nine painted turtles sunny themselves on a log in the pond.

(Photo from Google Image. Not this morning's bird.)

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