Seawall in Manset is where some of the best birding on Mount Desert Island begins. South of Southwest Harbor, Route 102 makes a circuit loop, starting with a left onto Route 102A to Manset, later returning to Route 102 via Bass Harbor. Route 102A leads to a very rocky beach called Seawall. The ocean view is one of the best places for sea duck watching, especially in winter. Common eiders, buffleheads, horned and red-necked grebes, black guillemots, all three scoters, both cormorants, long-tailed ducks, and red-breasted mergansers are present at various times. This is a good place for a spotting scope.
In the immediate ledge area, stay alert for purple sandpipers in winter. Across the road there are ducks around whenever the pond is not frozen, primarily mallards and American black ducks.
Just beyond, a picnic area opposite the campground is plowed in winter and is populated with at least three species of gull. Farther along the road, be alert to the boggy area opposite the Wonderland trail. This is the Big Heath, and it offers the best opportunity for boreal birds that are not common on MDI. Palm warblers nest in early June. Yellow-bellied and olive-sided flycatchers are known to nest here, as do Lincoln’s sparrows.
Wonderland is the first of two trails that shelter nesting warblers. Given their proximity, Wonderland and Ship Harbor share much in common. Wonderland contains a higher ratio of conifers and open, dry ledges, so boreal species may be more likely here. From a dense, wet beginning, the trail transitions through white spruce and jack pine to an unusual concentration of blue-tinted white spruce and roses. Open areas are good for American redstarts, Nashville warblers, and yellow-rumped warblers. In a good cone year, look for both red and white-winged crossbills. On offshore ledges, perched bald eagles are a common site.
Ship Harbor is a longer trail and offers a bit more mature growth and habitat diversity than Wonderland, so there is an improved opportunity for both coniferous and deciduous loving warblers. Remain alert for crossbills.
Southwest Harbor, ME 04679
GPS: 44.242617, -68.299427