Our journey today found us along the coast of Maine once again despite the small craft warning. It’s just wind, we figured, though we did make sure to bring along extra layers, hats, and gloves.
Biddeford Pool was our overall destination, but really the tide was out and wind so strong by the pool, that we decided to check out a few other locations in the area.
We actually drove by the pathway to the next location twice before a small sign caught our attention. To reach Maine Audubon’s East Point Sanctuary one must follow the narrow path.
Being a bird sanctuary, we weren’t surprised to be greeted by one–but really, an American Robin? We chuckled at the offering.
And then moved on to admire the view–the rocky coast of Maine.
And upon the rocks, bursts of sunshine in the form of lichen.
And in the water, waves crashing over the rocks.
Likely, it was waves of a similar or even more forceful nature that dislodged a couple of lobster pots and dropped them upon the pathway. At least, we wanted to believe their presence was of a natural cause.
The sanctuary is located at the mouth of the Saco River, and we realized we’d never actually viewed it from this vantage point before.
Nor were we familiar with Wood Island lighthouse, which was built in 1806 and manned until 1986 to guide mariners into Winter Harbor and the Saco River.
Nearby, a bell cast in England in 1872 that tolled for at the lighthouse for many years as part of the navigation system, was on display in a park.
But our eyes cued in to what was more in our range and we began to notice the birds on the rocks, in the water and air.
And suddenly, like magic, for perhaps that’s what binoculars do, my guy became a birder-in-the-making. Oh, don’t tell him because I know he’ll deny it. But he did notice subtle details of the diving ducks.
The Common Eiders were the most abundant in our view.
The breeding males stood out with their white and black featheration. (Is that a word?) It was the sloping forehead and beak of this diving duck that caught my guy’s notice.
For me, it was the greenish sides of the neck that I found most intriguing.
And then there was the she–rather drab in contrast to her he, but also featuring that sloping forehead and some black barring among the brown feathers.
In today’s wind, her feathers were aflutter, but I’m sure her he found the sight all the more alluring.
Swimming beside or among the Eiders were several White-winged Scoters, whose name stymied us for the white on the wings was barely visible as they swam. Note also the comma-shaped patch by its eye, known as a Viking horn.
It wasn’t quite as easy to move about for those who took to the air and most often it seemed like the gulls flew backwards in the wind.
Occasionally, they landed on the rocks below us so we could take a closer look.
The majority that we spied today were Herring Gulls, their suits of white and gray adorned by those black and white wingtips. (I really wanted this to be a Yellow-legged Gull, but what I want and reality don’t always match.)
At last we reached the turn-around point where we stood for a bit and admired the view.
And then we followed the pathway back along the edge–of the land and the sea.
It was as we headed out that we saw a wooly bear caterpillar and knew winter must be near. Based on the Farmer’s Almanac: “According to folklore, if the caterpillar’s orange band is narrow, the winter will be snowy; conversely, a wide band means a mild winter. And fuzzier-than-normal woolly bear caterpillars are said to mean that winter will be very cold.”
Wait, it’s spring. Here’s the scoop: The larva emerged from the egg last fall and overwintered in its caterpillar form, when it literally froze solid. To do that, first its heart stopped beating and then its guts, blood and entire body froze by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. And yes, despite today’s cold wind, it is spring and this one had thawed.
As we left, the Robins were there to say goodbye and we did wonder if the Wooly Bear would be on the menu.
In the meantime, however, a worm met its unexpected demise.
We had one more place to explore before heading northwest–to Fortune Rocks Beach, which was just down the road from the sanctuary and on the other side of the road from Biddeford Pool.
Maybe we should have noted the lack of people as a foreshadowing of the wind’s strength.
And certainly, the backspray of each wave should have spoken to us.
But . . . we ignored all the clues and tramped on. As usual, I followed my guy’s tracks. Can you interpret them? What’s that little loop-de-loop all about in the midst?
The further we walked, the more intense the wind became and eventually we felt as if we were walking in a sandstorm on a desert–a rather frozen desert.
And so we headed toward the shore in hopes that the retention walls and houses would block the brisker than brisk gusts. Truth be told, they nearly knocked us off our feet.
The beauty of walking closer to the shore–a few pieces of seaglass like this one that found its way into my pocket.
And then I found a fifty cent piece–tails up.
Right after that, I spied a heart-shaped stone, and that also ended up you know where.
And then . . . and then, my guy found a fifty cent piece, his heads up.
And he found a heart as well, which I also snatched.
So, a few birds, a caterpillar and a worm, lots of wind, Biddeford Pool, sand and waves on the fly, Fortune Rocks, and $.50 + $.50 = $1.00. I’ll give you a buck for a couple of hearts on this Mondate.
Happy April Fools Day!