AUGUSTA — Special opportunities for families and others in the Freeport area to view birds, attend workshops and go on hikes are on tap for the weekend of April 30-May 1.
“Feathers over Freeport: A Birdwatching Weekend” will highlight special birding opportunities in the greater Freeport area, featuring top Maine experts, as well as hikes, workshops and other activities for people of all abilities and interests at two locations — Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport, according to event organizers in a press release from the Department of Conservation.
Sponsored by the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) and the Freeport Wild Bird Supply, the two-day event is open for all. Organizers hope it will become an annual event showcasing the special natural resources of the area, including the annual Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch and the annual return of nesting osprey at Wolfe’s Neck Woods.
The event are goes from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport. Park admission is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 5-11; all others free.
“We want to bring attention to the myriad of avian travelers that pass over and through the Freeport area,” said Derek Lovitch, Freeport Wild Bird Supply owner and event organizer. “There’s so much more to do in Freeport other than just hitting the outlets, and with two state parks in close proximity, a celebration of the natural wonders of the area seems like a worthy cause.”
“The woods are coming alive now and the birds are more active — there’s a whirlwind of activity,” said Park Manager Andy Hutchinson of Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. “We want visitors to come out and enjoy themselves and learn more about bird watching. It’s a great opportunity for anyone who has an interest in the outdoors.”
“I’m pretty excited about this event,” Park Manager Frank Appleby of Bradbury Mountain State Park said. “It’s the first major birding event of the season, the birds are very active this time of year, and it’s a great family event. Combine all those, and we’re expecting a great turn-out.”
Many Maine birders already are aware of the annual Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, which monitors of migration of hawks and other raptors, and the return of the nesting osprey to Wolfe’s Neck Woods. This year, an effort is being made to introduce more people to the birding experience, particularly families and children, organizers said.
Several Maine birding experts will participate in the weekend event, including Hutchinson, who is a naturalist specializing in osprey as well as the park manager; Derek and Jeannette Lovitch, well-known birders, store owners, and hawk watch sponsors; Bob Duchesne of the Maine Birding Trail; and Dave Rodrigues, BPL senior planner and well-known birder. They will lead early-morning bird walks, bird walks for beginners, bird identification, and hawk and osprey watches and programs. A number of the programs at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, as well as the trail to watch osprey on Googins Island at the park, are accessible to those who use wheelchairs.
Two special programs will highlight the event, including a live bird program on Maine birds of prey, scheduled for 3 p.m., Saturday, April 30, at Bradbury Mountain. The program, presented by the Center for Wildlife, an animal rehabilitation center in Cape Neddick, will feature Maine raptors and focus on their habits, habitat, and place in the state’s ecology.
An evening program, titled “An Adventure at the Bottom of the World: The Birds and Wildlife of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica,” will be held 7 p.m., Saturday, April 30, at the Freeport Public Library. Derek and Jeannette Lovitch will make a multi-media presentation on their three-week voyage in November 2010 to the southern ocean and Antarctic Peninsula.
Other bird-related activities will be geared toward children and families, according to the organizers. Birding basics will be presented at both state parks through games, activities and hands-on projects, plus a short, easy on-trail hike, conducted by Jocelyn Hubbell, BPL interpretive specialist, and Laura Keating, AmeriCorps environmental educator.
Organizers ask that visitors register in advance for the bird walks. Those who do register early will receive a free bird poster provided by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
For more information about “Feathers over Freeport” and a complete listing of activities, go to: http://freeportwildbirdsupply.com/feathersoverfreeport/index.php
For more information or to register, call: Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park at (207) 865-4465 or Bradbury Mountain State Park at (207) 688-4712.
For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com