Yesterday evening, I went to nearby Popham Beach to see Piping Plover youngsters before they are all grown up. I had journeyed to Popham at the beginning of nesting season but had missed the little cotton balls running around after hatching.
The day’s sun bathers were all gone as a heavy damp fog had descended along the coast . . . lousy for tanning and not much better for birding.
I walked for almost an hour and saw very little except for Common Terns flying up and down the shoreline.
Then in a muddy area that the tide was beginning to reclaim I noticed some movement . . . a Semipalmated Plover.
A moment later my goal . . . a Piping Plover juvenile!!!
I watched “Piper” feed for about five minutes and then suddenly turn and run for the sand dunes . . . peeping every few seconds. I think he was calling his mother. He stopped about half way up the beach and froze . . . as if not knowing what to do. Perhaps his mother had decided he was old enough to be on his own. But “Piper” looked so lost and scared. As I headed out, I could still make him out . . . standing in the middle of the beach . . . waiting. Broke my heart.
On the way back to the car, I walked past the back lagoon in pea soup fog . . . I could just make out a number of large shore birds. I assumed they were Willets but was surprised to see nine (9) Whimbrels.
On the way home I was contemplating the Whimbrels and “Piper” when I saw flashing blue lights in the rear view mirror . . . “oh crap!!!”
As I pulled over, I noticed the large camera, lens, monopod and binoculars on the front seat . . . equipment that makes me look like a sniper (or so says my son).
The officer approached the window and I got the usual “Good evening sir, you were speeding, blah, blah, blah” . . . and then he noticed the equipment . . . “where have you been this evening?”
In full nerd voice I responded “I was down at Popham Beach looking for birds”.
“Did you see anything?”
“I sure did!!! I saw nine Whimbrels a bird that I’ve never seen before in Maine and to see nine together . . . its like seeing nine unicorns!!! ”
I went on and on.
He let me off with a warning . . . my wise ass son says I “bored him out of a ticket”.