Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Beautiful Places by the Sea

My Labor Day weekend was a bit longer due to an extra day I took off from work, so I headed up to Ogunquit on Monday and avoided the horrendous southbound holiday traffic by staying until Tuesday.

I tried to stop at Parker River NWR on my way north.  It was low tide, and I figured the potential for shore birds would be high.  The refuge was full and they were not admitting anyone else for 1-2 hours.  Groan.  I stopped at Joppa Park instead, a hot, mainly cement park with a boat ramp and overlooks onto the flats.  Not a very good backup plan, but it was the best I could come up with.

Please note throughout this post that I have very little confidence in my ability to properly ID shorebirds.  I apologize in advance for any mistakes.  Corrections to identifications courtesy of Josh F. (see his comment below this post).  As long as you're on line, you may want to check out his blog, Josh's Journal.

Joppa Park highlights:

Great Egret preparing for its day

Greater Lesser Yellowlegs

Semipalmated Sandpipers

Continuing up to Maine, my next stop was at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  By this time, it was 94 degrees which made for very hot hiking.  Water was essential.   I hiked the Barrier Beach trail and walked the beach a little while, enjoying what shorebirds I could find.

Monarch (one of two seen here)

Red Admiral



Semi-Palmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

free-standing stone arch

American Copper

River Inn and Suites, my last-minute hotel booking in Ogunquit, overlooks the Ogunquit River and is bordered by the Rachel Carson NWR, perfect for someone who likes birds!  Here's what I saw from the rear lawn of the hotel:

Greater Yellowlegs

Mallard (male, transitioning)

Great Blue Heron and mallards

More sandpipers, but too distant for me to even guess at an ID
Least Sandpipers (yellow legs)

Belted Kingfisher
making use of this government-approved fishing area

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper Dunlin (left) and Greater Yellowlegs (right)

Monday evening, I went to Nubble Lighthouse to watch the light fade at sunset (along with about 100 other people!).  The heat finally dropped to about 80 at this late point in the day.  UGH.  

After, I went to Barnacle Billy's in Perkins Cove and enjoyed a lobster roll and a big ice cold glass of lemonade.  YUM.  I almost appreciated the lemonade more.  Almost!

Tuesday I watched the sun rise from Ogunquit Beach.  It was breathtaking!!!  

15 minutes before official sunrise

Here it comes!

Herring Gull (juvenile and parent)

This juvenile was putting up a fuss and constantly begging from its parent.  The parent was seemingly irritated with it and wanting it to grow up and become independent.  It kept walking away and putting its back to it, and even flying away from the young one, trying to give it the slip.  Time to grow up!


As you can see, there weren't too many people taking in the beautiful sunrise!

Next I stopped in Perkins Cove for a few of my standard photos from this spot:

Common Eider

Common Eider (female)

Double-Crested Cormorant drying off

After breakfast, I drove up to the Rachel Carson NWR and walked the Carson Trail loop, enjoying all of the overlooks.  It was going to be another scorcher of a day, but it wasn't too bad on the shaded trail here.  I saw one Monarch here and a Belted Kingfisher.  Near the end, I enjoyed watching a distant flock of Tree Swallows.  Otherwise, it was pretty quiet.

Love this view with the red leaves!

Hobblebush (native)

I decided to stop back to Nubble Lighthouse for another look as I headed South!

Double Crested Cormorant

There were a lot of Double-Crested Cormorants on the rocks to the left of the lighthouse.  As I watched them, I noticed several were exhibiting a neck-jiggling behavior.  I figured this was a way for them to keep cool.  I was right!  It is called "gular fluttering", it works in a way that is similar to panting, and helps them to regulate body heat.  It certainly was another hot day!

Until next time, Nubble!

Next stop, Stonewall Kitchen gardens and cafe in York, where I had a blueberry scone with blueberry jam and a big glass of ice cold lemonade.  There was a surprising lack of butterflies here, only a couple of Cabbage Whites among all these beautiful flowers.

My final stop was at Parker River NWR in Newburyport on the way home:

Semi-Palmated Sandpipers
and more Sanderlings
(what a gloppy mat floating on the surface of the water they were picking through)

Great Egret


sleeping Yellowlegs (I think)
no way of knowing whether it's Greater or Lesser

another Great Egret
I love the red tinge the marsh is getting this time of year.

Red-Tailed Hawk (juvenile)

This hawk was very accommodating.  I first noticed him as I drove by, and there was a person walking right under the tree it was on.  I parked and walked back, first on the opposite side of the road, then moving over to the same side.  He just continued to hunt, while I snapped as many photos as I wanted.

A nice "last" bird for the trip!


  1. Hi Dawn, I'm glad to hear you had fun exploring up in my neck of the woods.

    Here are my thoughts on your shorebirds... if I may...

    1. These look like Lesser Yellowlegs. Notice their bills are about at long as their heads are wide.
    2. These look like Semipalmated Sandpipers, to me.
    3,4,5. Sanderling.
    6. Semipalmated Plover -- yep!
    7. Greater Yellowlegs -- yep!
    8. Distant peeps look like yellow-legged Least Sandpipers.
    9. Spotted -- yep!
    10. Solitary Sandpiper and Greater Yellowlegs.
    11. Sanderling -- yep!
    12. Semipalmated Sandpipers in the glop.
    13. Sleepy Yellowlegs... indeed...

    1. Thanks, Josh! I am going to reexamine all this and try to learn from it!!!

  2. On second look, I think the Dunlin turned Solitary Sandpiper may actually be juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs. Tricky tricky...

    1. Wouldn't there be some yellow to the upper part of the legs showing? Even in a second shot I have, with enhanced saturation, no yellow shows.

    2. Good point... I guess I'm not sure about that bird...