Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mainly Maine

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunrise at Dyer Point in Maine was awesome.  The sun was great but the air was cold.  The ocean smell.  The rocks.  Incredible.

After hopping around on the giant rocks that are actually very similar in appearance to petrified wood, I got to birding.  Harlequin Ducks were close - only feet away in absolutely stunning colors.  Common Eiders. White-winged Scoters.  Northern Gannets. Red-throated Loons.  All very cool.  Sure, I can see the scoters in Michigan, but boy, not like this. 

I made my way to a marsh called Scarborough Marsh hoping to pad my Maine list. Not much happening here (I thought I could some sparrows and such) so I made my way to another point called Biddeford Point.  What a rockin' place.  All the previous seabirds were seen but in bigger numbers.  Plus,I had a fly-over of a White-winged Crossbill (my only one of the trip).

The bird of afternoon goes down as an unidentified aclid.  On the point, hundreds of yards out, a black and white alcid zipped by.  Murre?  Razorbill?  There was simply no telling. At least, I could not tell. Perhaps someone with more experience between the two could make the call.  I guess now we'll never know.  Needless to say, my spirits sank a bit.  That could have been my life bird Razorbill and it got away......

A short way down the road, Cliff House with its absolutely spectacular view of the sea was worth some time.  More of the same was there (Harlequins, especially).  As if to repeat the alcid episode from a few hours earlier, a gull flew by as it was attacked by a Herring Gull.  It could have been a Bonaparte's Gull, but it just did not look right.  At times, at distances in the order of light years through my scope, it appeared the underside of the wings may have  black.  A Bonaparte’s with black underwings is not a Bonaparte’s – it is a Black-headed Gull.  That was a target bird. Sadly, I never secured satisfactory looks.  15 years ago, in my birding youth, I might have called it. Now that I have more experience birding, I need to understand the idea that unidentified birds can happen, especially when you are not completely familiar with that in which you seek.  It is, I think, I sign of birding maturity.

That damned maturity gets in the way of everything....

I should have went to Halifax…

Marginal Way, a paved walkway on the ocean up the street from Cliff House is a must.  The opportunity to walk so close to the crashing waves and rocks and seeing eiders roosting was awesome. Harlequins everywhere.  Both flavors of loons (Common and Red-throated) were there.  Gannets were plunge diving.  All so cool. 

The bird of the trip (from a certain point of view) was found outside the antique mall (new coffee container!).  Flipping leaves on the stairs, I assumed it was a junco given the season and the white outer tail feathers. But as it flew a few feet, I realized the tail was darker that the back and it was, in proportion to the body, very, very long.  Basically it was “dark” on top and white below. I've seen the shape and color scheme a thousand times. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  I'm sure of it.

Lodging and dinner were in Massachusetts.  The Black Cow Tap and Grille in Newburyport was quite nice.  Peak Organic Nut Brown (#841) from Peak Organic Brewing Company did not quite cut it. I have had my share of nut browns and this one, while not bad, fell short.  There was a bit of a “piney” or “medicine-like” feel to it.  That’s not what you want in a beer!  The Fisherman’s Ale (#842) from the Cape Ann Brewing Company was, sadly, not all that good.  It looked good and started good, but the taste degraded quickly.  By the time I swallowed each mouthful, it was like I was drinking a Bud Light or something. 

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