Fighting for fish in Nobleboro

Posted May 25, 2012, at 7:01 a.m.
A pair of gulls fight over an alewife plucked from the waters below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A pair of gulls fight over an alewife plucked from the waters below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
Gulls gather below the alewife harvesting station at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Thursday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
Gulls gather below the alewife harvesting station at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Thursday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
An osprey extends its talons as it plunges toward the water while going after an alewife at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder in Nobleboro.
An osprey extends its talons as it plunges toward the water while going after an alewife at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A great blue heron lifts off from a tree at dawn near the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder in Nobleboro.
A great blue heron lifts off from a tree at dawn near the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A cormorant comes in for a landing below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A cormorant comes in for a landing below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A kingbird flies over the water at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A kingbird flies over the water at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A local goose flaps its wings at a bay just below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A local goose flaps its wings at a bay just below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A gull swallows an alewife whole below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A gull swallows an alewife whole below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A pair of gulls fight over an alewife plucked from the waters below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder in Nobleboro.
A pair of gulls fight over an alewife plucked from the waters below the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A yellow warbler flies from an apple tree near the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A yellow warbler flies from an apple tree near the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A great blue heron flies in the sky behind an alewife weathervane at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Thursday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A great blue heron flies in the sky behind an alewife weathervane at the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Thursday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
Geese cross the road near the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
Geese cross the road near the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
A Baltimore oriole prepares to land on a white pine next to the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
A Baltimore oriole prepares to land on a white pine next to the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo
Gulls leave their mark on the roof of a home next to the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro.
Gulls leave their mark on the roof of a home next to the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Nobleboro. Buy Photo

NOBLEBORO, Maine — Every May alewives return by the thousands to Damariscotta Mills, where the lucky ones will climb a fish ladder that leads from Great Salt Bay to their freshwater spawning grounds in Damariscotta Lake.

As for the unlucky ones, some will be harvested by lobstermen who use them for bait. Others end up in a smokehouse, destined for human consumption. But most will be taken by the birds.

Ospreys and eagles put on the best show, hovering overhead before plunging into the shallow water next to the parking lot. Cormorants attack underwater, often causing a frenzy of fish to explode out of the water. Across the way, herons stalk silently from the shore’s edge.

Not all the birds are interested in fish. Yellow warblers and Baltimore orioles flit about in the bushes next to the stream. There have been reports of bluebirds and redstarts, too.

The most numerous birds, however, are the raucous gulls. The fishermen slam boards and fire blanks to scare them off — even though the birds always return a minute later. On Thursday morning a woman accused the feeding gulls of mass slaughter. And the local homeowners probably don’t appreciate the mess they leave on their roofs.

It seems nobody likes the gulls — except the nature photographers.

The 5th annual Fish Ladder Restoration Festival will be held Memorial Day weekend. For information, visit www.damariscottamills.org.

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