A Summer Visit to the Kennebunk Plains

It was a perfect morning at the Kennebunk Plains.  Dry, Canadian High Pressure has finally built in, dropping dew points to non-saturated-shirt levels.  A light northerly breeze was just enough to keep bugs at bay, too.

Eastern Meadowlarks (10), Grasshopper Sparrows (12+), and Upland Sandpipers (4-5) were particularly conspicuous today.  All of the other regular Plains denizens, from Field and Vesper Sparrows to Prairie Warblers and the pair of American Kestrels were present and accounted for, although Vesper Sparrows still seem fewer and farther between here this year.  Unfortunately, no sign of the Clay-colored Sparrow today.

Wood Lilies were in full bloom…
Wood Lily, KennyPlains,7-12-13

…and the first few Northern Blazing Stars were beginning to bloom.
NorthernBlazingStar,KennebunkPlains, 7-12-13

But my goal of the day was to improve our collection of Upland Sandpiper images.  Although I was really hoping to see some chicks, these photos made the trip more than worth while.
UPSA1,Kenny Plains,7-12-13

UPSA2,Kenny Plains,7-12-13

UPSA3,Kenny Plains,7-12-13

And one Grasshopper Sparrow was particularly confiding.

GHSP1,KennyPlains,7-12-13

GHSP2,KennyPlains,7-12-13

EATO-Female,KennyPlains,7-12-13
Here’s a female Eastern Towhee

FISP,KennyPlains,7-12-13
A Field Sparrow in full song

More importantly, I always find a visit to the Kennebunk Plains to be good treatment for the birding soul, so this morning was refreshing in more ways than just the weather.

Since I was in the area, I took a swing out to the Sanford Sewerage Facility.  Not surprisingly with all of the rain of late, the water levels were very high, and therefore shorebird habitat was virtually non-existent.  There were plenty of Spotted Sandpipers, however: 14 in all, including juveniles.  Wood Ducks were even more aplenty, with a total of 45 individuals from adult males in eclipse plumage down to only-week-or-so-old downy chicks.  And the late summer flocks of blackbirds are beginning to build; about 200 Red-winged Blackbirds have already coalesced here.  Meanwhile, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was still present along the edge of the facility.

Lastly, I stopped in at WoodlandCemetery in Biddeford, to check on a nest I found here in early June.  After seeing a displaying pair of Merlins in the area a week or so before, I looked around for nest sites, and happened up on a perfectly-sized twig nest in a Red Pine.  Unfortunately, after three visits, it does not appear that this is an occupied nest this year – by a Merlin or anyone else.  I did have 6 Fish Crows nearby, however, as a consolation prize.

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