ALONG THE RIVER
LEWISTON WATER TREATMENT PLANT; Lewiston
In winter and
early spring this is a good place to look for ducks. The flow of the river in
addition to the output from the plant keep a good section of water open here all
winter. Look for Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Mallards
and Black Ducks. Scan the trees on the Auburn side of the river for a Bald Eagle.
They are seen here often. Check the gulls for unusual species such as Glaucous
or Iceland. From Lisbon Street, turn down South Avenue at the Rite Aide store.
At the stop sign turn right onto Lincoln Street. You'll see the Treatment Plant
on the left shortly.
SOUTH BRIDGE/CONTINENTAL MILL; Lewiston
Another good vantage point to look for ducks and eagles in winter. Park in the
mill parking lot next to the bridge at the end of cedar Street on the Lewiston
side on the river. Also, look behind you up to the cross on top of the steeple
of the former St. Mary's Church; A peregrine is know to frequent this high perch
for hunting and preening.
ROAK BLOCK; Auburn
is best known for the large flock of Mallards that spend the winter, taking hand-outs
from well meaning locals. But its worth checking this flock carefully. One
Christmas Count turned up a Wood duck; another yielded a Green-winged Teal. Uncommon
gulls such as Glaucous and Iceland are sometimes mixed in with the other gulls
too. The Eagle is also seen frequently here too. Residents of the Roak Block often
see it picking off ducks. On Main Street in auburn, turn into the parking lot
of the Roak Block apartments.
GULF ISLAND DAM; Lewiston
A sure place to see Common Mergansers in the winter, along with gulls and crows
and an eagle or two. An Osprey nest is visible on a power line pole along this
stretch of river, so in the summer keep an eye out for a breeding pair. Heading
out outer Main Street, turn left on Switzerland Road. The river is visible and
accessible from several points along the road, all worth checking out. In the
fall, look for migrating Loons anywhere along here. A Pileated Woodpecker also
frequents this area, often seen swooping across the river. Check the trees all
along the road for Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Chickadees and Titmice at any time
of year, and in the spring, look for warblers. In the winter, you're almost sure
to see a Bald Eagle or two along this stretch of river. Check the large pines
across the river, and keep an eye out overhead. If the gate to the dam area is
closed, park on the side of the road and walk in. Again in the winter, look around
the dam for Iceland and Glaucous Gulls.
NORTH RIVER ROAD;
North River Road is a wonderful birding site. It parallels the Androscoggin
River, but most of the birding is not on the water. It offers a great diversity
of habitat from beginning to end. Spring and early summer offer the best birding.
North River Road starts at Center Street directly across from the Center Street
Shopping Plaza, heading off behind Wendy's. Your first stop should be right after
Higgins Sports where the river backs up into a little cove. Great Blue Herons
are often seen here, and occasionally other herons and egrets stop by. The bushes
on the other side of the road are sure to harbor a Yellow Warbler or two, and
most likely a Common Yellowthroat. The Yellowthroats can easily be "pished"
out. Scan the trees on the hill for cardinals and orioles.
A little further
up the road there is a dirt path on the right blocked off by stones. Park
here and follow the path down to the river. Listen for vireos and flycatchers
here, particularly the Great Crested Flycatcher. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
are also seen here frequently. Along the river, watch and listen for the Belted
Kingfisher. The path comes back out on the road a short distance from your car.
As you head back, keep an eye and ear on the tall pines for orioles, woodpeckers,
cardinals and warblers; especially the Pine Warbler.
Your next stop
is just up the road at the small bridge. This is where Bobbin Mill Brook flows
into the Androscoggin. When you get out of your car, close the door quietly,
and walk carefully to the bridge. Often there will be a Great Blue Heron feeding
in the brook on the up-stream side of the bridge. In the summer when the water
is low, Green Herons sometime feed on the sand bar on the opposite side of the
bridge. A White-crowned Nightheron has sometimes been seen roosting in the trees
over the brook.
During spring migration this spot is a flurry of activity.
Redstarts, Chestnut-sided and Yellow Warblers, and Yellowthroats are just
some of the warblers you're likely to see. Orioles tend to congregate here too.
As many as five males have been seen here at one time. Also listen for a House
Wren in the bushes on the other side of the bridge.
A little further up the
road you'll come to some corn fields on the right. Geese frequent these fields
in spring. Check for Canada and Snow Geese, and possibly others. You will also
likely see Tree, Barn and Rough-winged Swallows. Watch the hedgerow on the other
side of the road for orioles, especially when the fruit trees are in blossom.
From here there are many farms and farm fields. Search them for Bluebirds,
Meadowlarks and Bobolinks. Check any small ponds for Solitary Sandpipers.
Further on the fields turn to woods. There are some logging roads worth walking,
especially in May. Besides a wealth of warblers, you'll definitely hear Ovenbirds
and White-throated Sparrows. Listen for vireos, flycatchers, nuthatches and woodpeckers.
When the road takes a sharp bend to the left, you're almost at the end. Keep
an eye open for a Scarlet Tanager in the woods, and listen for Black-throated
Green Warblers. At the stop sign, take a left and you'll be headed toward
Center Street and Lake Auburn, and your next hot spot.
AUBURN & VICINITY
BOAT LAUNCH/OUTLET BEACH AREA;
Where Center Street cuts between Lake Auburn and the Outlet Beach
area, pull off the road and check both sides for waterfowl. Spring and fall are
best here. Look for Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead, Ring-necks, Mallards, cormorants
and more. In the fall you might find Ruddy Ducks and Coots. Check the lake side
for loons in spring and fall.
MARSHY AREA; Lake Shore Drive
(We need a name for this place)
Further up Route 4, take a left onto Lake
Shore Drive directly across from St. Phillip's Church. A little way up this road
you'll see an area to pull off on the left. Park here. Check the lake for
loons, ducks and gulls. In the late fall you might even see an eagle or two soaring
Most of the action is on the other side of the road in the marshy
backwater. Look carefully among the cattails for ducks of all kinds, especially
Wood Ducks. Mallards and Black Ducks are a given here. In the fall you may see
Swallows and Red-wing Blackbirds are also a sure thing. Great Blue
Herons are commonly seen feeding among the reeds, and an occasional American
Bittern, but you might have to look carefully to find them. More conspicuous are
the Belted Kingfishers, sometimes seen chasing each other over the water.
Spring brings a wave of warblers. This is perfect habitat for the Wilson's Warbler
and Northern Waterthrush, birds you don't see just anywhere.
Continue out Lake Shore Drive all the way to the end (Lake
Auburn will be on your left the whole way). At the stop sign is the inlet
to Lake Auburn. In the fall, this is a pretty sure place to find Hooded Mergansers.
You are also likely to see a Belted Kingfisher, and check the lake itself for
other ducks and Loons. Follow the stream across the road, upstream, and look for
warblers and sparrows.
THE BASIN; Holbrook Road
the stop sign at the inlet, turn left onto North Auburn Road, which immediately
starts going up a hill. Take the first right onto Holbrook Road (at the Auburn
Land Lab, the old C.P. Wight School); in less than a mile you'll see a dirt
road on your right that leads a very short distance to an undeveloped boat
landing. "The Basin" is a narrow pond formed by a dam that regulates the
flow of water into Lake Auburn. You can do some birding from the shore (the
boat landing provides a good view), but canoeing up into the winding northern reaches
of the Basin in summer can reveal Double-crested Cormorant, Great
Heron, several duck species, Osprey, flycatchers (sometimes including nesting
Eastern Kingbird), Yellow Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart,
and other warblers, Redwing Blackbird, Song and Swamp Sparrows, and American
Goldfinch. In the spring and fall the Basin often hosts Ring-necked Duck,
Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, and other interesting duck species.
A BIT FARTHER AFIELD
NEW GLOUCESTER MARSH
marshes bordering the upper reaches of the Royal River are quite reliable in spring
for Virginia Rail (and, to a lesser extent, Sora), Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow,
Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and several other warbler species, Redwings,
several different swallows and flycatchers, and Gray Catbird. American Bitterns
are often seen as well. The great advantage of this particular spot is that
a train track traverses the middle of the marsh, so the walk is both dry underfoot
and offers the relative height of the railroad bed as an observation platform.
Directions: From Auburn, go south on Routes 4/100/202 through "Upper
Gloucester" to Route 231 (a left-hand turn at the blinking yellow light). It goes
past the New Gloucester elementary school, through the "center" of New Gloucester,
and down a hill. Just past the railroad crossing at the bottom, pull off the road
to park and walk north along the tracks until the marsh opens out, especially
to the left.
The abandoned track bed of the
old Interurban Electric Trolley cuts through woods and across a large wet meadow
(marsh?) south of Gray. The woods have many possible warbler species in the spring,
as well as an
occasional Black-billed Cuckoo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak,
or vireos. Out on the marsh, swallows, ducks, sparrows, flycatchers, and blackbirds
are all to be expected.
Directions: From Auburn, go south on Routes
4/100/202; in Gray, go south on Routes 26/100 about 2 miles; look for Long Hill
Road, a sharp left. Turn left onto Long Hill Road, go a few hundred yards until
a snowmobile trail crosses it (it's more visible on the left); this is the old
trolley railbed. Park along the road, take the trail to the left (north), through
some wet woods (good warbler territory), which turns into the abandoned railbed
crossing the marsh. Go as far along the trail as time permits.