Unexpected Wildlife at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park

Of all the local parks around my hometown, Wolfe’s Neck will always remain one of my favorites. Not only does it offer a gorgeous view of the coastline, but birds abound both in the forest and along the water.

My husband, mother, and I descended down the path from the parking area, making a bee-line for the rocks along the shore. The tide was low, and it was simple to jump from stone to stone, stopping for a moment to peer into the tidal pools. A small island stared back at us across a narrow aquatic expanse, topped with pine trees and a very vocal pair of Ospreys.

tern, maine, nature

Since the tide was low, a large mudflat extended down the beach, hosting multiple Snowy and Great Egrets as they searched for prey within the soft earth. Double-crested Cormorants and gulls rested on another rocky, seaweed-covered island farther from shore, and in the wind soared an unexpected species: Common Terns.

Common Terns breed mostly in Canada, migrating to the Caribbean and South America for the cold winter months. The flock I spotted must have been in transit, resting on the coast of Maine, feeding, and then continuing on once more. One bird in particular made frequent passes near where I stood, allowing for magnificent views of its black cap and orange bill. Interestingly, these birds drink only salt water, even if freshwater is available.

maine, park, nature, trail

While it was difficult to tear ourselves from the shore, other engagements called and we returned to the car through the woods. The path on both sides was lined with multiple bright green fern varieties, and in one section a beautiful stone walkway had been laid out, almost like the entrance to a fairy kingdom.

As we strode through a particularly dense patch of trees, we walked straight into a flock of Black-throated Green Warblers!

nature, landscape, bird

Though “green” is in their name, I’m always struck by the bright yellow faces of this warbler species. The mixed flock – which also included Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice – quickly surrounded us, and I whirled around with my camera trying to capture whichever bird happened to be closest to me. Like many flocks, in moments the birds had disappeared, leaving the three of us grinning in their wake.


Erika Zambello

About Erika Zambello

Erika Zambello is a writer, birder, and photographer, born and raised in Maine. She has a bachelor’s degree in Government and Anthropology from Cornell University, and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from Duke University, specializing in ecosystem science and conservation. Her love of the outdoors was inspired by her childhood in Maine, and she returned for her National Geographic Young Explorer grant in 2015-2016.