As the calendar turned to August I was still vacationing in Maine, with a North America year list at 215 species. My first outing of the month was a brief visit to the Valentine Farm Conservation Center, a hot spot I haven’t visited until this year. I didn’t find any new year birds there, but it is always exciting to find a Pileated Woodpecker and a nice cache of warblers (7 species).
On August 2nd, I took my family out to Popham Beach in Phippsburg, Maine. The beach, which is in Sagadahoc county, is really cool and has a few islands you can walk to when the tide is low. I got a very passing glimpse at a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a lifer. However, by far, the most exciting observation was a Bald Eagle scattering tons of gulls on one of the rock islands.
On August 5th and 6th, I took my wife to Freeport and Portland. We also returned to Popham Beach, this time minus our kids. As you might guess, some incidental birding occurred! Our hotel in Freeport, had a marsh view. I saw 15 Great Egrets at one moment while looking out our window in the morning!
Our return to Popham Beach was amazing bird-wise, with three lifers (Guillemot, Sanderling, and Roseate Tern). Certain parts of the beach were hopping with terns, and I saw 35 Common Terns! I also had the satisfaction of picking out a lone White-rumped Sandpiper from a group of Semipalmated Ssandpipers. Most of all, though, I was thrilled to see an alcid (the Guillemot) from land! I have horrible photos to prove it 🙂
Returning home, I resumed the quest to reach 200 year species in Essex County. The evening I returned, I saw a Semipalmated Plover (#194) at the Essex lagoons. Sadly, before I would tally my next year bird, my camera was out of commission well into September. I think not having a camera for a while forces me to use my binoculars well and probably makes me a more effective and observant birder overall, but it is hard not to have photos to back up IDs and certainly I do enjoy photography even when it does not aid ID. I’ve had some really close-up views of Short-billed Dowitchers at the lagoons, and unfortunately, I have no (good) pictures to show for it!
Proceeding without my camera, and leaning heavily on my binoculars, there came an amazing bird–the Purple Gallinule (#194)–which is a great rarity in Essex County and the most beautiful bird I’ve ever seen. I guess you could call it an outlandish and odd sort of beauty.
After the Gallinule, I saw #196 (Black-crowned Night Heron) and #197 (Baird’s Sandpiper) at the Essex lagoons. A trip to Point Pelee brought #198 (Common Tern). And another trip to the Essex lagoons brought #199 (Wilson’s Phalarope). It was fun to initially discover the Baird’s and Phalarope–and also satisfying to know that my reports allowed others to enjoying seeing these cool shorebirds! There are other reasons I find it important to report my bird sightings, but certainly one very important reason is the satisfaction of knowing that my reports are helping others.
Alas, August has come to a close. And my county year count sitting, tantalizingly I might add, at 199. I look forward to September and all fall will bring. Good birding!