All posts by John Briggs

I am a photographer/author from Bath, which lies along the Mid Coast of Maine. My love for nature and birds led to the development of this site and the Comments, criticisms and feedback are always welcome. If you would like to be a guest author, please contact me. Happy birding!

Birding Scarborough Marsh

Fledgling Tree SwallowThe early morning of Saturday, July 1st was beautiful on the Scarborough Marsh. Temps were cool, skies clear and bright blue and just enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away.

Walking along the Eastern Road, we were alone this morning. Other birders, joggers, bikers and the like didn’t begin showing up until 45 minutes after we arrived.

Approx 1/2 way between the bridge and the woods, we encountered fledgling tree swallows. The parents were keeping a watchful eye, and reminded us to stay clear by swooping right at us! Even though we could in no way approach the fledglings unless we climbed the tree they were in, we made a wide arc around the tree as far as the edge of the trail would allow us. I did manage to get off some good shots with my camera. We watched as the adult swallows brought food and fed the fledglings. It was indeed a sight to behold!

BobolinkNot far from the swallow family, we spied several bobolinks. After a going through our lives never seeing these birds, we now see them regularly since moving to Maine.

The Bobolink is noted for one of the longest migrations in the western hemisphere, a round trip of approximately 12,400 miles. After a nine week nesting season, Bobolinks typically congregate in marshes where they will undergo their post-nuptial molt before heading southward in late August. It is thought that most of the Bobolinks that breed in the western U. S. and Canada head eastward to the Atlantic coast before turning southward.

Migration proceeds down through Florida and across the Caribbean, with stopovers in Cuba and Jamaica. Some Bobolinks have been sighted over Bermuda on what appears to be a non-stop flight from the Atlantic coast between Nova Scotia and Virginia to South America. Upon reaching South America in October, the majority of Bobolinks will spend the next two months making their way to southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina.

Song SparrowMany sparrows were seen and heard, including this song sparrow singing from a bush along the trail. Sharp-tailed sparrows were numerous, but none stood still long enough to get a good picture. Neither did the lark sparrow, lincolns sparrow and a chipping sparrow.

I am still refining my sparrow identification techniques, as there are many different types of sparrows. I cannot begin to tell you how many sparrows I have seen that I could not identify!. Sometimes they are too far away to be sure, other times, their songs just don’t sound the way they are supposed to even though the identifying features say otherwise.

Song SparrowThis song sparrow had a cricket in its mouth when it landed on a tree along the trail, perhaps on its way to feed its fledglings.

There is some debate going on about dogs using the trails at the Scarborough Marsh. I saw the new sign asking dog owners to keep their dogs leashed and on the trail.

For the most part, everyone who brought their dogs to the Eastern Road on Saturday complied. Although there were two dog owners who did not.

Before I go any further, let it be on the record that I have nothing against dogs. I was, and probably will be again in the future, a dog owner.

SandpiperWith that said, I got upset when I noticed a dog owner bring two bird dogs onto the trail without leashes. And once again, I witnessed dogs romping through the marsh, out of control! Why anyone would bring bird dogs unleashed to the Scarborough Marsh during nesting season is beyond me.

I kindly stated to the dog owner that there is a sign at the beginning of the trail which states that dogs should be kept leashed and out of the marsh during nesting season. My words were met with total silence, I was ignored!>

Adult Tree SwallowAnother dog owner brought in a dog who decided to take a swim and then took off after a seagull. The seagull got away. This is a blatant disregard for the health and welfare of nesting birds in the marsh. Let alone for the sign posted at the entrance of the trail. I guess I was naive to think the sign would do some good with the dog problems.

It was a very good day on the Scarborough Marsh. The following is a list of species seen on Saturday, July 1st, 2006.

  • American Bittern
  • Bobolink
  • Snowy Egret
  • Great Egret
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Song Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Lark Sparrow
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Sharp-tailed Sparrow
  • Red-Winged Blackbird
  • Chickadee
  • Double Crested Cormorant
  • Bonaparte’s Gulls
  • Short-Billed Dowitcher
  • Spectacular Holiday Weekend Birding

    Fledgling Tree SwallowThe fourth of July holiday weekend was spectacular for birding with two days to go!

    Birding trips to Scarborough Marsh, the Kennebunk Plains and Hoyts Neck left us with photos and memories that will last a lifetime. I will call it the weekend of the fledglings.

    I will break down each birding trip into its own article in the coming days, with species seen and some wonderful photos.

    Please stay tuned!

    Just a bit of advice… NEVER forget the bug spray!