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The Maine Beaches Birding Trail
1. Fort Foster
Fort Foster in Kittery sits on Gerrish Island overlooking a large expanse of ocean and tidal river. This is a good migrant trap in spring and fall, and a winter place to look for alcids, sea ducks and Purple Sandpipers. This is the site of a fort that protected Portsmouth Naval Shipyard through both World Wars. The park gate is closed from late fall to late spring, but birders may park at the gate and walk in during the off-season. May be icy in winter.
From Route 1 in Kittery, follow 103 east 3.5 miles. Turn right onto Chauncey Creek Road, follow 0.5 miles, turn right onto Pocahontas Road. Cross the Gerrish Island Bridge, turn right and follow the Pocahontas Road 1.2 miles. A fee is charged in summer.
2. Mt. Agamenticus
Mt. Agamenticus in York is one of Maine's best hawk-watching sites in September. Hawks are best seen on southerly breezes in the spring and northwest breezes in autumn. In breeding season, the surrounding woodland trails are good for songbirds.
From Route 1, turn south onto Clay Hill Road. Drive 3.9 miles, bearing right at a T intersection, and continue another 1.6 miles. Drive 0.6 miles to the summit or park below and walk the trails or road.
3. Marginal Way
Marginal Way in Ogunquit is a narrow, paved, mile-long footpath that hugs the rocky shoreline. It is extraordinary any time of year. In winter, Harlequin Ducks and Purple Sandpipers can be plentiful and all of the sea sucks are possible. The path is lined with low shrubs, making it ideal for sparrows, mockingbirds , and cardinals any time of year and migrating passerines in spring and fall. May be icy in winter.
From Route 1 in Cape Neddick, follow Route 1A south 0.9 miles. Turn left on Shore Road in Ogunquit and proceed 4.6 miles to a hard right turn onto Perkins Cove Road. From Route 1 in Ogunquit, follow Shore Road 0.8 miles south to the entrance to Perkins Cove Road on the left.
4. Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm can be exceptional year-round. a trail system provides 7 miles of hiking that meanders through a diverse set of habitats. Eastern Towhees and Brown Thrashers flourish around the fields. Piping Plovers and Least Terns nest on the beach. On the northern end of the beach, a natural jetty draws roosting terns and gulls.
From Route 1, turn onto Laudholm Farm Road. Follow the (small) signs a half a mile to the entrance.
5. Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area
Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area protects a sand plain ecotype that is home to unusual grassland species seldom encountered elsewhere in the state, including Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrows, Upland Sandpipers, Prairie Warblers, Eastern Towhees, and Brown Thrashers. Important: stay on dirt trails.
From Route 1, turn west on Route 9A (High Street), then in 0.3 miles turn right onto Route 99. Follow for 4.2 miles and look for the parking areas on both sides of the road.
6. Biddeford Pool
Biddeford Pool is another of Maine's exceptional year-round hot spots. The mile-long tidal pool is viewable from a distance for ducks, waders, and shorebirds. East Point Sanctuary is a small Maine Audubon property with paths that wander cliff side over 30 acres. Scan for Rough-legged Hawks and Snowy Owls on offshore islands in winter. Limited parking is available at the entrance gate. The rocky surf zone along Ocean Avenue is good for sea ducks, and shorebirds may roost on the rocks in season. The beach area is also good for shorebirds and the expansive bay is promising for sea ducks.
From Route 9, Turn onto Route 208 and follow 1.8 miles to an intersection at the southwest corner of the pool. (Turn right for the southern half of Fortune Rocks Beach.) Turn left and follow to Hattie's Deli on the left. Then continue ahead, bearing right onto Main Street.