Birder's Eye View

Saturday, June 7, 2008

CMBS | Part 3

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees..."
- John Muir

On the second day of the Coastal Maine Bird Studies camp, we packed our lunch and took a field trip to Morse Mountain and Seawall Beach, near Phippsburg, ME.

This area was extremely diverse in habitat. As we hiked up the mountain trail, we passed through balsam pine forest, hot muggy swamps, and rocky, wooded terrain. And, just on the other side of the mountain was Seawall Beach, which I will get to later.

One of the first birds I saw in this park was a lifer -- a Glossy Ibis! We also saw Snowy Egrets, Red-winged Blackbirds, and many species of warbler.

The hike was long, and, although it was the only second day of camp, I had completely lost track of time.

I was so immersed in the experience, in being outdoors, in seeing so many new sights, time had no meaning. Accept when my legs began to ache and the mosquitos whined insistantly in my ears.

When we reached the peak of the mountain, the view was breathtaking.
We sat on the flat rocks to rest, setting down our spotting scopes and other equipment.

A Dark-eyed Junco sat at the top of a scraggly pine tree to my left, singing loud and clear. This was another life bird for me, and a bird I would see often in the coming days.

We then hiked halfway down the mountain and then drove to Seawall Beach, a striking coastal area where we hoped to see Piping Plovers and Northern Gannets.

We spent a good amount of time here, and indeed, found our Piping Plovers. They scuttled about here and there, and were extremely hard to see, even through the spotting scopes.

Cute as these birds were, though, one of my fondest memories is of watching the Northern Gannets from the beach.

When someone spotted the seabird, we set up the scopes, and gathered around to witness the bird's aerial acrobatics as it hurled itself into the waves.

This was one of the first moments I really connected with my "inner birder." It was amazing to be standing there with those other kids as they all gasped and Oooed and Ahhed and were just as captivated by the experience as I was.

It's funny how a small, insignificant moment as that could be such a turning point, the moment when everything just... clicks.


Check back in a couple days to read about a Peregrine Falcon!

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