The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, with headquarters at historic Laudholm Farm, protects about 2,250 acres of habitat including salt marsh, grassland, and woodland. At least 260 bird species have been recorded here. Current lists are available at wellsreserve.org.
A bird-banding station has been active at the Wells Reserve since 1988. Public demonstrations of banding methods take place every Wednesday morning from June through August (weather permitting).
York County Audubon birders lead walks twice a month during summer. See the Wells Reserve calendar for details. YCAS has also completed quarterly bird surveys at “Laudholm” for many years.
Harlequin Article by June Ficker
A visit to Laudholm Farm is not to be overlooked! This is a restored salt water farm having existed over three centuries. When the Lord family considered selling in the 1970’s, Mort Mather, the citizens of Wells, and some others in York County undertook a concerted effort to permanently protect Laudholm. Maine’s only National Estuarine Research Reserve was established.
You may tour the beautiful main farmhouse, the Visitor Center, restored barn with auditorium, the Coastal Resource Library, and the Maine Coastal Ecology Center with research lab, teaching lab, and interpretive exhibits.
The seven mile trail system is well marked and trail guides are available. You will be amazed at the diversity of habitats. For instance, on the Knight Trail you will pass through grassland to woodland to freshwater wetlands to salt marsh and end up on sandy beach.
The diversity of birds is reflected in the diversity of habitats on the property and good birding can be found in all seasons. A few species encountered during spring and summer can be American Woodcock, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown Thrasher, Veery and Eastern Bluebirds, a variety of warblers, sparrows, and flycatchers, Ruffed Grouse, Canada Geese, herons and egrets, shorebirds including Piping Plover, Least and Common Tern, as well as a number of gull species. In fall and winter, Northern Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Song Sparrow, Dark-Eyed Junco, House and Purple Finches, Hairy, Downy, and Pileated Woodpeckers, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, Common Loon, Common Eider, and Red-breasted Merganser may be seen.
The Reserve has also been the site of unusual bird species including White-eyed Vireo, Connecticut and Mourning Warblers, American Avocet, Ruff, Caspian, Royal, Forster’s, and Sandwich Terns, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Lark Sparrow. Expect to find a surprise.
Wells Reserve at Laudholm is located off Routes 1 & 9 near the Wells-Kennebunk Line and takes approximately 35 minutes from either Portland or Portsmouth (via I-95, exit 19). It is open to the public year round and has ample parking space. During the summer you may find a volunteer collecting an entrance fee, but if you become a member of the Laudholm Trust, you may enter free. Pets and smoking are not allowed.
There are public restrooms and you can have a picnic lunch at one of the table/benches situated close by the Visitor Center. Pick up more information at the Visitor Center where you can inquire about bird walks and the weekly Wednesday morning bird banding demonstrations. This is also the site for York County Audubon program meetings as well as a variety of other programs and events. See you there!