Birding Field Lab

Every week, as part of our science class, we spend an afternoon doing a field lab. We pile into the van with our yellow field journals, queue up our favorite songs, and sing our hearts out until our destination. This past week we went to Reid State Park for a birding field lab. After lunch, the Tuesday field lab group got ready and headed out in the vans. We got to the state park and unpacked our things and almost immediately spotted four long tailed ducks in the water. Everyone’s excitement and volume went up and down as the ducks dove and resurfaced. We all frantically looked through our binoculars, trying to find the birds on the blue landscape in front of us. 

The wind had already begun to find its way beneath our layers and our hands were quickly getting colder as we tried to write our questions and observations. Many of us had “dressed for the Quad” as Megan, one of our science teachers, puts it. Despite the ever-increasing chill, we continued onto the beach and rocks to find more birds. There was a lot of excitement over the algae on the rocks and everyone was excited to find ascophyllum nodosum (knotted wrack), one of the things on our species list. If we weren’t making observations, we were doing dances to stay warm until the next bird was spotted. Loons, ducks, sandpipers, and gulls were all featured and brought lots of excitement. 

We then got back in the van and drove to Five Islands to find more birds. The van ride, only about 5 minutes, was not enough to warm up our frozen digits so we were reluctant to get out to stand in the cold yet again. The minute we got out, however, we discovered many birds swimming around the lobster boats and even saw a bald eagle being attacked by crows. We were able to identify many types of birds, each one as exciting as the last. Wanting to stay for only ten minutes quickly turned into half an hour. When we had finally seen enough birds for the day, we got back in the van, cold and happy. We sang all the way the way back to campus, excited about our adventure but glad to be going home. 

Whether we are finding birds at Reid State Park, learning about sand dunes and tides at Popham Beach, looking at different environments and vegetation on Morse Mountain, or doing forest ecology in our very own Pineapple Forest, field lab brings us all together to get excited about learning something new and real about the world around us. 

Amelia Porter, Camden Hills Regional High School, Appleton Maine

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