Sabattus Pond is remarkable in autumn, as the water level is drawn down to rid the lake of potential algae blooms from phosphorus. The drawdown exposes extensive mud flats, creating ideal feeding habitat for migrating sandpipers. Surprising numbers of semipalmated, least, and white-rumped sandpipers are joined by pectoral sandpipers, black-bellied plovers, greater yellowlegs, short-billed dowitchers, killdeer, and later-arriving dunlin. Stay alert for American golden plovers and sanderlings, too. Merlins and peregrine falcons are regularly attracted to this smorgasbord.
As the shorebirds depart, waterfowl move in. Coincidentally, an invasive species of Chinese Mystery Snail provides an abundant food supply for diving ducks. From October until freeze-up, anything can happen. Regulars include mallards, American black ducks, ruddy ducks, hooded mergansers, common goldeneyes, green-winged teal, American wigeons, northern pintails, ring-necked ducks, both species of scaup, and American coots. Even saltwater migrants such as scoters, grebes, buffleheads, long-tailed ducks, and red-breasted mergansers are possible. Bald eagles find this abundance appetizing. Late in the season, flocks of common mergansers gather and the mud flats again become populated with small numbers of American pipits, snow buntings, horned larks, and Lapland longspurs. Much of the available birding is from a small park and boat launch called Martin Point on the southwestern corner of the pond. Ample parking and a pit toilet are available.
Directions: A new Maine Turnpike exit to Sabattus may not show on older maps. Take Exit 86 from the Maine Turnpike and head west on Route 9. In 1.3 miles, Route 9 will turn left. Instead, proceed straight through the light for another 0.3 miles to Sabattus, and then turn right onto Elm Street and right again on Lake Street to the park at Martin Point.
GPS: 44.118584, -70.095695