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Flighty guests: Land trust hosts Falmouth nature walk to celebrate Migratory Bird Day

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Flighty guests: Land trust hosts Falmouth nature walk to celebrate Migratory Bird Day

FALMOUTH — On a humid, spring morning Caleb Hemphill tilted his right ear toward a quiet, insect-like buzzing in the distance.

"Hear that?" he asked. "That's the blue-winged warbler. It's a really unusual bird for southern Maine and we've got some here."

Hemphill is an avid birder, but said even he was surprised by the number of people who appeared after the first blue-winged warbler was discovered in the area last year.

"As soon as word got out, they were here, lined up out to the parking lot, to see them," he said.

Hemphill is on the board of the Falmouth Land Trust, which helps manage the River Point property where the blue-winged warbler has decided to make a regular stop during its migration to northern breeding grounds. The town-owned property, nestled in the crook of several branches of the Piscataqua River, is a popular habitat for birds, from waterfowl, to song birds, to raptors.

On Saturday, May 8, in celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, Hemphill will lead a tour through the trails at River Point in search of the diverse migratory birds that nest, breed, or just stop over at the property. While he admits the tour would be better to do very early in the morning, when most birds are out, it is scheduled for 9 a.m.

"It's a tough sell to get people out at six in the morning," he said.

The bird walk will be followed at 10 a.m. by a nature history walk through the area, guided by a naturalist from the Nature Conservancy. The event is the first in a series supported by a partnership between the Falmouth, Oceanside, Chebeague and Cumberland land trusts, also known as the Portland North Land Trust Collaborative.

"We're hoping to introduce people to the land trust," Hemphill said.

Last year the land trust installed an aluminium bridge to connect the Adam property trail to the River Point trail. Eventually, Hemphill said, the land trust hopes hikers will be able to walk all the way to the Lowell Preserve from River Point, which begins beside the Hannaford supermarket in West Falmouth.

"Connectivity is a great thing," he said.

While there are still some hurdles to the plan, such as building a bridge or a tunnel to cross railroad tracks, and getting easements for property the land trust or town do not own, the process is moving slowly forward.

In the meantime, the area at River Point, once called Three Rivers Farm, is well worth exploring. The one-mile perimeter trail is an easy walk through fields and along the riverside to areas once a popular stopover for American Indians. Then, in the 1800s, the property became a clay excavation site for brick-makers.

Evidence of the area's diverse history is all around. The now-smooth edges of red bricks stick out of the silt along the riverbed, and Indian artifacts have been discovered at the site.

Last year, a group of young people from the Center for African Heritage utilized the property to raise goats and plant vegetables. They painted the small barn, which stands at the head of the trail, and cleaned up years of accumulated junk. The group is scheduled to return this year for similar projects.

And, now that the bridge between the parking lot and the farm has been repaired, they may even be able to bring necessary equipment to improve and manage the soil.

Saturday's bird and nature walk is a family-friendly event and leashed dogs are allowed.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net