Birdwalk Highlights for 2/1: Winslow Park, Freeport

Led by Dan Nickerson

A number of interesting and unusual birds were seen around the South Freeport Harbor in

the week preceding our bird walk of Saturday February 1.

With that in mind and with a consideration of the tidal phases we decided that Winslow

Memorial Park was our most likely location for winter rarities.

We arrived at the park with nearly ideal conditions--little wind and moderate

temperatures. And that situation only improved as the walk went on. An overcast sky

reduced glare over the bay offering excellent views of seabirds at a great distance.

Seabirds are always a highlight of a winter visit to the park.

From the boat launch we spotted a modest number of Buffleheads and Common Eiders.

Dozens of American Black Ducks working the edges of the mudflats on a receding tide

proved to be our largest group of the day and the largest number of any species of birds

for that matter. Four Canada Geese were also working the edges of the marsh grass along

the shore.

We followed the soft vocalizations of Eastern Bluebirds to a stand of American Highbush

Cranberry--not a cranberry but a native viburnum that holds its fruit through the winter.

A couple of Northern Cardinals joined the Eastern Bluebirds foraging on the bright red

berries. It is likely that a feeder which we could not observe attracted Tufted Titmouse,

Black-capped Chickadee and White-breasted Nuthatch in this little passerine hotspot.

Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were active in the area as well as a pair of Hairy


We made a beeline down the park road to the mouth of the Harraseeket River, hoping to

find some wintering shorebirds roosting on the exposed ledges before they dispersed onto

the mudflats. Dunlin and Purple Sandpipers often roost here. Alas that was not to be.

Perhaps one of the warmest Januarys ever provided them with an abundance of foraging

areas usually covered in ice at this season.

But there was a good cast of characters at the mouth of the harbor that included Common

Goldeneyes, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Eiders, Canada Geese, American Black

Ducks, Common Loons and a couple of Mallards.

Always a highlight of the park are the gorgeous Long-tailed Ducks. Their pleasant

murmuring drifted a long distance across the still water. Four Long-tails in flight put on

a striking aerial flyby.

Five Mourning Doves roosting in a poplar brought our bird list to a respectable winter

total and our target of 20 species. They too were likely near that feeder just out of our

view. They do not travel far from their food sources on a winter day.

But still no rarities. We worked our way down the south shore adding American

Goldfinch to our list, some more Eastern Bluebirds and a few ducks. By this time the

wind had completely died, and we could identify the waterfowl easily at a great distance

on glassy seas.

With a little diligent scanning a duck showing a little more black on the back than others

got our attention. A beautiful drake Barrow’s Goldeneye, stunning in the scope, and

easily visible with binoculars, was joined by another drake and a hen. The Freeport

Harbor and Winslow Park are one of the few areas in the state where this species can be

seen with any regularity, but then again you never know if you will see them on any

given day.

Our last takeaway from the walk was the memory of magical shades of gray and other

subtle colors on a benign winter day.


541 US Route One, Freeport, ME 04032             (207) 865-6000 


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