Saturday, October 11, 2008

European Golden-Plover in Scarborough, Maine

Look, it's hard to post thoughtful interviews and explorations of the birding world when so many goddamn awesome birds keep showing up in Maine to distract me.

Today I had planned on sleeping in, cleaning my place and meeting friends for lunch. However, a morning email check forced me to reconsider my plans: a European Golden-Plover had been found at Scarborough Marsh. Did you hear that? A European Golden-Plover. Never been seen in the lower 48 states. Room-cleaning can wait.

I got to the marsh at 1030, and iphoned up an email which told me that the bird had flown in the direction of Seavey's Landing (right below where it says "Scarborough River" on the map below) at 10. So there I went. Nothing. I waited there for the tide to lower with about 6 other birders from Maine and Mass. A few birds here and there, including a fake-out Black-bellied Plover and a FOY Pine Siskin, but no Europeans.

View Larger Map

At 1:30, two other birders and I were getting antsy and decided to walk out into the marsh from Eastern Road (see the road that shoots off onto the river, about the "9" in the map above? That road keeps going straight all the way across the marsh and is the famous Eastern Road). And so we did. For about an hour and half we trekked across the grasses, spooking up occasional shorebirds (including Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, a White-rumped Sandpiper and my Maine-first American Bittern), but finding no Plover. As the three of us (myself, a Mass. birder named Jeff and another Mass. birder who's name I didn't get) turned back, tired and hungry, we met my friend Robbie walking across the pannes.

"I just flushed the bird" he said, "it's around here somewhere." Unbelievable. Robbie is an excellent birder, and within minutes he had refound the bird and we were all getting full-scope views. I got some pictures, but, as is my thing, they aren't very good.

Much, much better pictures from a Mass. birder named Richard Heil can be found here.

The bird is a transitional adult, and is a real beauty. Huge thanks to Rob for pointing us in the direction of the bird.

One final note: Apparently some people watching from Seavey's Landing did not like the fact that Jeff, the other MA gentleman and myself were walking though the marsh. Local birders know that walking through the marsh is perfectly fine once nesting season has ended. There were plenty of hunters in the marsh today. I consider myself sensitive to bird-chasing issues, and had there been any rules against doing anything that I did, I would certainly have followed them. It's also interesting that once the bird was refound, all of those birders who were heckling us from the shore were the first ones bounding into the pannes with their scopes.


Larry said...

Hey Nick, Wow, a European Golden Plover! Super find. Congratulations on your tenacity!

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