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Greater Portland and Casco Bay Birding Trail
1. Scarborough Marsh
Scarborough Marsh encompasses over 3,000 acres of estuarine saltmarsh, 15 percent of the state's total. It produces the most abundant and diverse flocks of waterfowl and wading birds in migration, some of which breed here. The range of Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sharptailed Sparrows overlaps and interbreeding occurs. Glossy Ibises, Great Blue Herons are regular and Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons. and Black-crowned Night-Herons are uncommon. In winter, Rough-legged Hawks turn up regularly and Snowy Owls are rare. The seasonal Maine Audubon Nature Center midway along Pine Point Road can provide trail maps, birding tips, canoe rentals, and a bird-sighting register. In season there are regularly scheduled nature walks. The Eastern Trail walk/bike path is the preferred place to see both sharp-tailed sparrows.
Route 1 through Scarborough passes through the north edge of Scarborough Marsh. Drive south along Route 1 from Portland, cross the marsh, and turn left onto Pine Point Road (Route 9) at Dunstan Landing. Proceed to the Maine Audubon Nature Center parking lot to begin the adventure. From Saco, drive north on Route 1. Pine Point Road will be a right turn at Dunstan Landing.
2. Pine Point
Pine Point is where the outflow of several streams mix with the incoming tide at the mouth of Scarborough Marsh, concentrating a rich food source. From late summer through autumn, check the large flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls for vagrant Common Black-headed Gulls and Little Gulls. Semipalmated Sandpipers and Plovers are plentiful in late summer, to be replaced by Dunlins later in autumn. In the height of shorebird season, stay alert for White-rumped, Pectoral, Stilt, and Baird's Sandpipers, and Hudsonian Godwits. Check the oceanside beach at Pine Point. From fall through spring, the waters usually contain scoters, eiders, grebes, and loons. The jetty on the far north end of the beach is attractive to terns, and this is a good mainland site to look for Roseate Terns in summer.
From Route 1 in Scarborough and Scarborough Marsh, continue along Pine Point Road (Route 9) until it bends abruptly right toward Old Orchard Beach. Instead, turn left and follow to the town landing. There are two lefts--the first is East Grand; the second is King Street. Both end at the town landing.
3. Kettle Cove
Kettle Cove at the far eastern end of Crescent Beach State Park offers good winter views of beaches and waters. Look for loons, eiders, grebes, goldeneyes, and scoters. Mallards and American Black Ducks probe the shallows. Brant favor this spot in late winter. the spit can attract Horded Larks, Snow Buntings, and Lapland Longspurs in winter.
Kettle Cove is just 0.2 miles south of the entrance to Two Lights State Park or 0.8 miles north of Crescent Beach State Park. Look for the turn onto Ocean House Road and follow the sign to "Kettle Cove Area."
4. Dyer Point
Dyer Point is a rocky promontory that pokes well into the Atlantic , and every Maine alcid is possible in fall and winter. Expect scoters, eiders, Buffleheads, Long-tailed Ducks, Black Guillemots, Horned Grebes, and Great Cormorants. Check the loons for a possible Red-throated Loon or even a vagrant Pacific Loon. In late summer, check for Northern Gannets, Great, Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, and migrating Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers. In winter, Purple Sandpipers are possible. Nearby Two Lights State Park has a better view to the southeast, and its brushy habitat and mature conifer thickets make for good migrant trapping in spring. May be icy in winter.
From north to south take Route 77 to Two Lights Road and follow to the end. From the north, Two Lights Road is about 5.4 miles from the bridge in Portland. From the south, it's 5.5 miles from the intersection of Routes 207 and 77 in Scarborough.
5. Fuller Farm
Fuller Farm is a 220-acre tract, which encompasses about 70 acres of grassland and hay fields--ideal for Savannah Sparrows, Bobolinks, and Eastern Meadowlarks. at least 21 species of warblers and 13 sparrows have been documented. Possibilities include Eastern Towhees, Indigo Buntings, Field Sparrows , and Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos.
From Exit 42 off the Maine Turnpike (I-95): at the first light, go left onto Payne Road, and left at the next light onto Holmes Road. Continue to the second intersection marked by a blinking light and turn right on Broadturn Road. Go approximately 1 mile to the farm's parking area on the right. Look for the kiosk in the parking area next to a large field. From Scarborough Marsh, Broadturn Road is directly across from Pine Point Road (Route 9) at Dunstan Corner. Fuller Farm is 4.1 miles northwest of Route 1.
6. Hinckley Park
Hinckley Park in residential South Portland is 40 acres of varied habitat. Expect a good variety of warblers in breeding season, including ocassional Blue-winged Warblers. Check for Rough-winged Swallows Over the ponds.
From downtown Portland, take the bridge to South Portland along Route 77. After crossing the bridge, continue for 0.8 miles along Route 77 (turn right on Ocean Street), and then turn right onto Highland Avenue. Follow for 0.3 miles and look for the park entrance on the left. From I-295, drive south toward South Portland, crossing the Fore River at Exit 4. Follow the signs to Route 1 (Main Street) in South Portland. Proceed south on Route 1 (Main Street) and turn left onto Broadway. Follow Broadway 2.3 miles to Route 77 (Ocean Street). Turn right onto Ocean Street, and follow 0.2 miles to the right turn onto Highland Avenue.
7. Eastern Promenade
Eastern Promenade, at the northeast end of Portland, extends into Casco Bay. Scan for common sea ducks, gulls, and perhaps an eagle. Song Sparrows overwinter in the brush along this path and other specialties such as Orange-crowned Warblers turn up in late autumn.
Washington Avenue intersects Eastern Promenade at its westernmost point. Follow around to Cutter Street and descend to the parking and boat launch area.
8. Evergreen Cemetery
Evergreen Cemetery is Maine's premier site for warbler fallouts in May. Maine Audubon leads daily walks at 7am in mid-May with some of the state's leading experts. Check the schedule at the Maine Audubon The best area is around the ponds at the back of the cemetery and on the footpaths associated with them.
From I-295, take Forest Avenue north at Exit 6. Continue north about a mile to a five-street intersection. Make a gentle left turn onto Woodford Street in front of the Dunkin' Donuts and follow to Stevens Avenue. Turn right onto Stevens, go past Deering High School, and look for the Evergreen Cemetery in about half a mile. Enter through the cemetery's second gate and proceed to the ponds at the back of the cemetery.
9. Capisic Pond Park
Capisic Pond Park contains Portland's largest freshwater pond and many flowering trees. This 18-acre park borders on the Fore River, improving its attractiveness to songbirds, particularly Orchard Orioles. Soras and Virginia Rails breed in the cattails. It's a good place to look for migrating sparrows in spring and fall, and for fruit-loving birds in winter. Often done in combination with Evergreen Cemetery, which is only give minutes away.
From I-295 in Portland, exit west onto Congress Street at Exit 5 (5A from the south, 5B from the north). Follow Congress Street for less than a half a mile, and then turn right onto Stevens Avenue, which is Route 9 East. In 0.2 miles, turn left at the light onto Frost/Capisic Street. Follow Capisic straight ahead, looking for Macy Street on the right. A small parking lot is available in front of the Capisic Pond Parking sign. From Evergreen Cemetery, turn right onto Stevens Avenue and follow 1.2 miles to the right turn onto Frost/Capisic Street. Follow as above
10. Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm
Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm in Falmouth is a 65-acre sanctuary open during daylight hours. Feeders around the center attract finches, sparrows, and a variety of other seedeaters. Tree and Barn Swallows nest on site.; Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks populate the meadows. The west Meadow Trail meanders through a forested wetland before circling the meadow. Two blinds overlook the Presumpscot River Estuary. The Pond Meadow Trail leads to a pond where wading birds keep company with muskrats. The North Meadow Trail also passes through a grove of mature red oaks and hemlocks before entering the meadow.
From the north: take I-295 to Exit 10 and then left on Bucknam Road. At the light turn right onto Route 1 and 88, the entrance to Gilsland Farm Road is on the right at the light blue sign. From the south: take I-295 to Exit 9. Continue 1.9 miles north on Route 1 and turn left onto Gilsland Farm Road at the light blue sign, immediately before the intersection of Routes 1 and 88.
11. Bradbury Mountain State Park
Bradbury Mountain State Park is one of Maine's premier hawk-watching sites on any southerly or southwesterly breeze in early spring. Multi-use trails are productive for common songbirds throughout the summer.
From I-295, take Freeport Exit 22 and head west off the highway. Turn left and follow the sign toward Bradbury Mountain State Park. After 4.5 miles turn right onto Route 9 (Hallowell Road.) The park is 0.5 miles ahead on the left.
12. Florida Lake Conservation and Recreation Area
Florida Lake Conservation and Recreation Area protects 167 acres and a small lake. Several trails wind through differing habitats, producing a good variety of songbirds. The lake attracts waterfowls and wading birds in migration.
From I-295, take Freeport Exit 22 and head west off the highway. Florida Lake is 3.1 miles from the I-295 exit. From the exit, turn right onto Route 136/125, and continue to follow Route 125 when it diverges from 136 a half-mile later. After about 1.5 miles, look for the Florida Lake sign on the right. The access road runs behind some small homes ti reach the parking lot 500 feet into the property.