We were sleeping in our car like homeless people. Parked in the Freeport, Maine Fire Department parking lot. I felt drugged…no… worse than drugged. What a miserable night and morning it had been. The redeye Jet Blue flight left Denver at 11:15 PM Mountain Time and arrived in Boston at 2:40 AM Mountain Time. I vaguely remember stumbling through Dollar Car Rental, honking at the desk person to open the gate, then driving north out of Boston. We grabbed something to eat at a small café which should have helped normalize us, but didn’t. I drove north another ten miles but felt so sleepy I pulled over and Linda took over behind the wheel. She drove for fifty miles until she couldn’t stay awake anymore so she pulled over and woke me up to take over once again. To say we were wiped out, understates our condition. Some how, I managed to arrive in Freeport, Maine around 9:30 AM Eastern Time. We drove to the B & B on Main St. that we had reservations for tonight. Though we pleaded with the proprietor to let us check in early, she was unmoved by our plight; 3:00 PM was the earliest check in. So, exhausted and shaky, we pulled into the Fire Departments parking lot to sleep.
That’s when the phone rang. I sleepily fumbled for my cell phone. It was my brother Bill. “Hey John, where are you right now?”
“I’m in Freeport Maine sleeping in a parking lot”
“You’re sleeping in a parking lot? Why? But it doesn’t matter. How far are you from Portland”?
“I just drove by Portland twenty miles ago, why?” (I was beginning to wonder if I could even finish this conversation before I crashed into a total stupor)
“A Little Egret was found this morning by Doug Hitchcox in the pannes of the Eastern Road of the Scarborough Marsh, just south of Portland.”
The fog blanketing my brain began to lift, perhaps pushed away by the sudden adrenalin. I now felt ready to drive safely. “How do I get there?” Somehow, between conversations with Derrick Lovitch and my brother Bill, and a detour for water, I made it to the parking lot 40 minutes later. Bill pretty much had to guide me the whole way while I drove.
A brisk ten-minute walk through the saltmarsh also helped clear out the remaining cobwebs. I could see two birders with there scopes Doug Hitchcox and a nice lady who was actually on Gambell while I was there. I walked up, they offered their scopes and there was the Little Egret. The long plume was really unmistakable. The bill was noticeably longer then Snowy Egret. I couldn’t make out the gray lore, but Doug’s photo shows it clearly.
This is a really great bird. A first state record for Maine. Congratulations to Doug! As far as my “Big Year” is concerned. Never has a Mega Rarity landed so close to someone traveling so often at such an opportune time! This certainly goes a long way in balancing the recent Yellow Grosbeak, Red-footed Booby and Green Violtear misses. I think that I’ll sleep well tonight. I need to because tomorrow I backpack up to tree line for the Bicknell’s Thrush. I’ll report on Friday.