Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stockton Springs to Sears Island ME – Bunch o'birds

Basics: Launch Stockton Springs: Easily parking for twenty SUVs with trailers, another thirty cars. Portapottie, inside flush toilet with a nice view of the harbor, picnic tables, grills, playground. Launch about 8:45AM, finish about noon. 8 miles. High 12:08. More about the harbor.
The boat launch at Stockton Springs is charming and delightful. The town has put a lot of work into the facilities; upgrading the dock, adding moorings, putting in benches, tables and a playground, adding the wonderful bathroom. It’s usually a very quiet launch site. The launch leads to a protected area, the town to the north, Cape Jellison along the east and Sears Island to the west. It’s not ideal for all weather, but it is usually less challenging than other locations.
We often launch here to catch low tide, the bottom here is sandy offering a home to sand dollars and other creatures. If we land at the erratic on Sears Island which in line with the green can we can often find sand dollar husks, but only at the lowest tides.

Today low tide came too early, we launched mid tide. And with a wind from the north we knew we’d make quick time along Cape Jellison.
We cruised out by the pilings, custom made to display cormorants,

and along the wonderful beach down to the tiny island at the end, often a nesting site for osprey and or eagles. In addition to Gulls and Cormorants, birds we spotted on our way south were terns, loons and a few guillemots in the muted gray feathering of the young. Then it was across to Sears Island. Sears Island is the largest unpopulated island off the Maine coast. I love it as a paddling and hiking destination, but the state wants to preserve its right to put a dock facility in. Enjoy the freedom of Sears Island while you can.
You can hike around Sears Island when the tide is low, as it comes in there are a couple of spots, one here by the iron outcropping, another not far from the causeway to the west which fill up and become impassible.

We paddled north along Sears Island, taking time to check out the nests on the loading dock. Next it was over to the GAC facility, and the cormorants there.

In the background you can see the causeway to Sears Island, always a popular locations for birders, hikers, and dog walkers.
On the way across the cove we passed through a gathering of laughing gulls, mature and immature. Lively birds, their antics in flight would entertain us all along the north shore.

We heard eiders in the distance and could see a small raft of eiders heading to the center. Closer to shore a common merganser and her brood of over a dozen swam along. Then there was this bird; a yellow legs? A upland sandpiper? (We can't claim to be experts, or even good, at bird identification.)

In the northeast corner a couple lobster boats were drawn up on shore. They seemed to have been recently painted, but mostly were fading into landscape.
We went under the West Cape Rd Bridge into a back bay.

(taken from in the back bay, looking back to open water)
It’s always a little bit foolish to do things like that; the current which takes you under the bridge may prevent you from coming out, or the water may rise too high to allow safe exit.

But near high, we didn’t have much trouble and we found a pretty little area with lots of crows, but no shore birds.
Then it was back to the launch, in time to see groups arriving to enjoy the lunch facilities.