Maine Birding Trail:|
The Official Guide to More Than 260 Accessible Sites
Down East Books, 256pp, $15.95
The opening of the Maine Birding Trail this year is accompanied by a birding guide unique of its type. Avid birder Bob Duchesne spearheaded the creation of the trail. In the process of five years of research for the trail's guide book, he visited and evaluated hundreds of sites. Thirty-six thousand miles later, 82 "official" sites have been designated - sites that feature excellent birding, but also excellent parking, paths, facilities, etc. and more than 260 sites are included all together. Sites will continue to be added to future editions of the guide.
This happy achievement had its genesis in the 1980s when, in response to the pressure from development and changes in forest ownership, two citizen supported counter measures were taken. Land trusts were formed state-wide and the state established a publicly financed program to purchase and conserve land called "Land for Maine's Future." In this new atmosphere of support for "nature-based tourism," the Maine Birding Trail was conceived and has been in the development stage since 2003, with the support of the state government and the Maine Audubon Society as well as local birders.
Organized to correspond with the state's designated tourist regions rather than bird habitat zones, the book is easy to use as a trip planner. The geographic organization of the birding guide corresponds with other tourist guide books which include essential visitor information such as accommodations, dining, shopping and site seeing in different sectors of the state, while fulfilling its larger purpose of providing essential information to the birder.
A general information section offers a month by month overview of what (or who?) can be expected to be seen where and when. The guide is then broken up into the standard tourist regions, beginning with the beaches of the southeast coast, York County. Six "official" trail sites are located as well as six additional sites in this "Maine beaches" section. Likely denizens are listed for each location.
The coast is further divided, highlighting Greater Portland and Casco Bay, the Mid-Coast, Down East and Acadia and each section is packed with the best birding sites, how to get there and what the birder might be likely to see. Grand Manan and Campobello islands are also included in the coastal section.
The inland part of the guide includes Maine lakes and mountains, the Kennebec Valley, the highlands and the north woods. This section forces the reader (birder) to realize the enormity of the Great State. Duchesne wisely suggests at this point that the user of the guide equip herself with a DeLorme state map, just as a precaution.
Other sections of the guide include lists of tour boats for pelagic bird and whale watching, the American Birding Association code of ethics, advice on pests and hazards, a checklist of Maine birds and a section on trip planning.
With the launch of the Maine Birding Trail, eco-tourism in the state has been greatly enhanced and other nature-based recreational activities will be encouraged by this great example. About half the states in America have some form of birding trail now, and each one has its own story of how it came together. In Maine, Bob Duchesne is a big part of this state's birding trail story. He retired from a 31 year career in radio broadcasting but not from as many years as a leader and a guide with Maine Audubon, serving many years as chapter president and is now a member of the Board of Trustees. The dedication of the guide to his wife, Sandi, is revealing of his commitment to the project as well as his good humor. "To Sandi: The next time I say the words, 'you know what Maine needs?' please me talk me out of it."
A companion website has ongoing updates to the book - http://www.mainebirdingtrail.com