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Talking My Way Out of A Speeding Ticket (Using Birds)

Piping Plover Juvenile

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.

Common Tern

Then in a muddy area that the tide was beginning to reclaim I noticed some movement . . . a Semipalmated Plover.

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.

Piping Plover Juvenile

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.

I have seen Whimbrels in Texas and California . . . but never in Maine. I know people see them occasionally . . . but to see this many together . . . and in Maine . . . was pretty exciting.


Whimbrel (Texas Gulf Coast – April 2017)

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”.