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Sandy River Land Trust Awarded Grant for Perham Stream Birding Trail

Franklin County Commissioners recently awarded the Sandy River Land Trust with TIF Grant funds in the amount of $6,025 to build a birding trail in western Maine this summer, for the quiet enjoyment of the Perham Stream intervale, an accessible, rich, and beautiful landscape with special value to communities in unorganized territory.  On Saturday, May 26, members of the Sandy River Land Trust, the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, the High Peaks Alliance, and approximately 16 birders (from newbies to the very experienced) were led by MATLT board member and Wilderness Society Climate Adaptation Ecologist Peter McKinley, Ph.D., of Damariscotta, Maine, on an early morning 2-mile walk in the Perham Stream intervale on private land in East Madrid Township.  Over 42 different species of land and water birds were identified by sight and sound.  The check-list bird of the day was the Northern Waterthrush, an uncommon warbler. But there was more than one species that generated excitement among the group.    ”The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a sing-songer you don’t get to see everyday,” McKinley said.  McKinley has conducted song bird research in the Moosehead Lake area near Baxter State Park and also in parts of Canada.  ”I made my living in bird habitat like this,” he explained.   ”My heart is singing here!”
“Landowner Suzanne Broidrick has been very generous to allow the community to enjoy this natural treasure known as the intervale,” said Madrid neighbors, SRLT directors and birding trail project advocates, Hope and Lloyd Griscom.
The bird habitat in the intervale consists of at least five subhabitats for birds including field, alder thicket with hardwood wetland, mixed-wood forest dominated with hardwood, mixed wood with stream, and field/stream edges where birds flourish.  McKinley said enthusiasts don’t have to cover a lot of ground in a place like the Intervale to readily see so many birds.  His expertise helped confirm that the Perham Stream Birding Trail concept is taking hold in the perfect environment.  Through the SRLT/TIF grant, directors will hire Mt. Abram High School students this summer as interns to help bring the project to fruition.  The SRLT hopes to have the trail open to the public by late summer.
McKinley educated the group on such birding topics as song vocabulary, nesting and eating habits, and territorial defense versus female attraction.  Has this guy gone to the birds? (Absolutely – passing up a polar dip in the ocean to visit the Perham Stream!)
For more information about birds and birding, visit  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology at www.allaboutbirds.org.
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