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Friday, February 24, 2017

Enjoy winter bird watching in Maine by Lorraine Glowczak



For birdwatchers, experts and amateurs alike, winter can be one of the more challenging times of the year in Maine for that special outdoor activity. But that doesn’t detour those who relish birding year round. As much as it may seem to the contrary, winter can provide opportunities for those who enjoy compiling a birding “life list” or who simply love the sight of a bird in flight.

“The best place to bird watch in winter is in your own backyard, if you have a bird feeder,” explained biologist at Loon Echo Land Trust, Paul Miller. “Although uncommon, some unexpected birds can be found soaring above the frozen landscape. Pine Grosbeaks and Redpolls have been seen feeding during some of the coldest times of the year.”

However, if cabin fever sets in and one feels the need to explore, Miller stated that the second best place is near water such as the causeway in Naples. “Here, you will get to see some unusual and rare ducks this time of year.” Miller added.

Casco and the Sebago Lake State Park, with its abundant lakeshore and rivers, is an excellent location as there is no shortage of waterfowl. A birder might even catch a glimpse of a yellow-throated vireo near the woodland areas.

The southern part of the state offers a variety of vast birding spots and should not be ignored.
With the ocean only 30 miles to the east of Windham and Raymond, one can take an afternoon drive to observe salt water birds who do not usually visit the coastline in winter.

The Back Cove in Portland is a location one should not overlook. With the easily accessible three mile trail that wraps around the bay, one may identify a few Red-breasted Mergansers and a Bufflehead or two. Loons have even been spotted in the midst of a very cold day.

If a snowy owl has not made your birder’s list yet, drive 30 minutes south of Portland to Biddeford Pool. The abundance of snowy owls you will catch site of there, will increase the possibility to help you complete your birding inventory.

While you are in the area, take the opportunity to travel to Kennebunk Plains. The Audubon Society states one might very well see vesper sparrows, upland sandpipers, horned larks and prairie warblers.

Although it may be an effort for some to get out in the cold weather with the ground covered in over a foot of snow, it can be worth the challenge to catch a glimpse of our feathered friends who stay or visit this time of year. If at all possible, don’t let the Maine winter stop the bird lover in you from doing what you enjoy most - bird watching in Maine.

For more information, check out the Maine Audubon’s Maine birding guide at: www.maineaudubon.org/birding/maine-birding-guide-birding-by-region/

Windham Eagle Unified Basketball Team continues to improve by Stephen Signor



As a general rule, a team success is often measured by its victories - either that or the total number of points it scores. Don’t tell that to the Eagles Unified Basketball Team. In their third game, played on February 10 against the very strong Blue Blazes of Westbrook, they scored a season high of 48 points, despite losing. Fast forward to their most recent game, when the Eagles faced off against the Oxford Hills Vikings: While they did not score as many points as their previous game, nor did they win in a final score of 46-34, their defense did demonstrate increasing signs of improvement.

Vikings show good defense
In typical fashion, the first half had lead changes several times during which the Eagles displayed a new found ability to steal the ball away from its opponent. This, despite the postponed game and consequent practices, Co-coach Brittany Taylor and Co-coach Anne Blake’s team was eager to go. “We had practice cancelled on Wednesday because of the storm but the kids came in on Friday and were excited and ready to play,” shared Taylor.

Intentionally paying no particular attention to the score at the half, which incidentally happened to be in favor of the Vikings, Taylor instructed team members to use their 10 minute break to practice dribbling, taking free throw shots and driving to the hoop. The Vikings were doing the same.

The second half was just as intense with both teams having little or no difficulty in putting up score after score. With the minutes remaining being rapidly erased from the time clock, it would come down to consecutive, unanswered scoring drives by the Vikings. The only, but deciding, difference in the game was that the Vikings would end up having two high scorers with Branden Skinner and Brandon Robare, each with 12 points.

The Eagles’ Brianna Webber would match that with her own 12 points but it would not be enough. Efforts by Ben Silva with 8, James Tuckers 4; and 2 points each by Kyle Herzig and Cameron Malone, did however bring them closer. In the end, the score was 46-34 - but you would never know it. The kids from both sides, as they always do following the game, met near half court and reveled in their efforts.

The unified basketball referee, who wished to be referred to as just George, expressed his thoughts on his first experience. “This is the first game of this type I’ve done, so it’s new to me. I usually do high (school) and middle school games here within RSU14. I had fun doing this. I enjoyed watching the kids have a good time in a game like situation. I would do it again. It was fun.”  

 Although the season is just half way through, there are already signs of recognizing the most improved players. “Most improved player? That would be everyone,” exclaimed Taylor. But to cite examples, “Ben Silva had improved on defense and Ryan Sargent gained more patience on the court.”
Co-coach Blake concurred, but also added Cameron Malone for most improved; but not for his play, “Just because he was so timid and shy in the beginning. He wouldn’t shoot, he wouldn’t even go in.” 

The next four games should prove to be as exciting, if not more so, than the first four. Their next game is February 28 at home, against the Poland Knights, whom they faced in their inaugural game earlier this year.

FMI and the remaining schedule visit: www.rsu14.org/Sports/index.cfm

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sixteenth annual Sebago Lake Rotary Club ice fishing derbies set for February 25 and 26 By Elizabeth Richards



The Sebago Lake Rotary Club is hard at work planning the sixteenth annual Sebago and Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derbies. The dates this year are Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26, 2017.

Deb McPhail, past president and current treasurer of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club, is co-organizing the event this year along with Cyndy Bell. McPhail said the organizers have plans to meet with the Town and Warden Service next Tuesday, to get confirmation that all is good to go.  As of Wednesday, February 15, it looks like the 26 lakes and ponds in Cumberland County are frozen. "Always ice fish at your own risk," McPhail added.

“We’re hoping Sebago Lake will freeze, especially the Raymond Beach area because that’s kind of the hub for us,” McPhail said. On Saturday at noon, the Maine Children’s Cancer Program will be on-site to hold a major fundraiser: The Polar Dip.

Also at Raymond Beach, will be a few vendors, including Kittery Trading Post, the Interact club from Windham High School selling doughnuts and coffee, and the Naples Fire Department selling what McPhail called “the best burgers and fries around.”

Every person who registers, gets a chance in the fish pool drawing, which includes a 2017 Polaris Sportsman 450 All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), purchased from Team Woody’s Performance Center in Topsham. There are more than $12,000 worth of other prizes in the fish pool as well, McPhail said. Every fish weighed also earns an entry into the fish pool drawing. “I don’t care if it’s a little tiny pickerel, it can be weighed in and that puts them in for prizes,” McPhail said.

Because the derby serves as an important fisheries management tool for Maine State biologists, this prize pool is put together to encourage everyone to weigh every fish they catch. Anglers can enter up to six fish in each category each day, a total of 24 entries per day and 48 entries over the two-day derby. It is recommended that those who are fishing bring address stickers to make the fish pool entry process move more quickly. Stickers should include the phone number used to register.

Big fish prizes are also awarded to the three biggest fish in four categories: Pike, perch, pickerel and togue. Anglers will take home gift cards to Kittery Trading Post in the amounts of $500, $200 and $100 for first, second and third places. There is also an opportunity to win $100,000 if a record breaking togue, which is over 31 pounds, eight ounces is caught.

The fishing derbies are the largest fundraising event the Sebago Lake Rotary Club puts on each year, McPhail said. The money goes directly back to the community through donations to the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, Camp Sunshine, and many other charitable organizations.

The event requires participation from the entire club. “We only have 26 members in our club, and it’s all hands on deck,” said McPhail. “We also get family and friends to help too,” she added.

Three weigh stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Locations are at: Raymond Beach, Sebago Station at the Standish Boat Ramp, and Jordan’s Store in Sebago. The awards ceremony for the Sebago Lake and Cumberland County Derbies will be held on Sunday at the Windham Indoor Shooting Range, at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Hooked on Fishing, a kid’s derby, will be held on March 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sponsored by the Kittery Trading Post and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, this event is intended to introduce children to ice fishing. There is no pre-registration and the first 500 children, 12 and under, who arrive before 10 a.m. will receive a free ice fishing rig. The derby is free to participate in, but Range Pond State Park, where the event will be held, has a gate admission of $1.50 per person between the ages of 13 and 64.

To register for the derby online, or for more information, visit: www.icefishingderby.com.

Lady Eagles swim team performs well at swim meet



Congratulations to the Windham Lady Eagles - for their fantastic performance at the Southwestern Swim Meet on a snowy Saturday morning. There were many personal bests achieved as the Lady Eagles placed 8th overall. The event culminated with an outstanding performance by the 400 free relay team of: Hannah Mauris, Chloe Wilcox, Elizabeth Lucas and Katharyn Lucas. 

Special congratulations to Olivia Verrill, for being awarded the Southwestern Maine Swim Officials Scholarship for athletics, community and sportsmanship. 

The season finale will be held on February 21 at Bowdoin College. Senior, Olivia Verrill has qualified for two events; Junior, Elizabeth Lucas has qualified for three events including the grueling 500 free and Freshman, Katharyn Lucas has qualified for an astonishing five events.
Good luck to our Lady Eagles!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Athlete Of The Week - Lingdong Bol (Ling). Congratulations!



Lingdong Bol, a junior at Windham High School is The Windham Eagle’s athlete of the week. The 17 year-old is a mid-fielder in soccer, a forward in basketball and a high jumper, triple jumper and long jumper in track and field.

Although she enjoys her sports career she does not believe everyone should be an athlete. “I don’t think all kids should play sports because sometimes it just does not spark an interest,” Bol said. “But I do believe it helped with my time management and making new friends, especially starting at a new school.”

By playing sports, Bol has learned there is always room for improvement. She believes that cheering from the sidelines is a great way to encourage the players - which can make all the difference in the world.

She accredits many people who have made an influence on her sports career. They include her South Portland coach, Karen Reardon, her good friend, Phoebe Letourneau and her mother.

“Ling has been a great addition to our girls indoor track team.  She is a very coachable and passionate athletic but most of all she is a great teammate.  She placed first in the SMAA league high jump this past weekend and plays a huge role in our team’s success this winter,” girl’s indoor track head coach Mary Green said.

Bol hopes to attend either Bucknell or Brandeis Universities and major in medicine. She is the daughter of two Sudanese immigrants, mother Nyabore Luak and father, Bol Bol. She also lives with five brothers and two sisters.