Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maine Coast Day 5: Sunrise at Settlement Quarry

Settlement Quarry, Stonington, Maine
Up early again, I thought I would explore another Island Heritage Trust property, this time on the east coast of Deer Isle--Settlement Quarry.  As I was walking down the trail towards the quarry, I began to hear a clamorous noise--gulls! Lots of them! I rushed down the trail to see what was causing the commotion.
Gulls, Settlement Quarry, Stonington, Maine
On the pier below the quarry there was a fishing boat and a large open container of fish, apparently offered freely to the local gull population.
Gulls, Settlement Quarry, Stonington, Maine
They were taking full advantage.
Osprey, Settlement Quarry, Stonington, Maine
An osprey joined the mob for a while, though I don't think it ever got the nerve to grab a fish.
Gulls, Settlement Quarry, Stonington, Maine
Gulls not competing for their share of fish rested on large blocks of granite nearby. A good place for gull ID practice, I suppose. Which I will leave for others to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Maine Coast Day 4: Barred Island Preserve

Barred Island Preserve, Deer Isle, Maine
Up early and out to Barred Island Preserve by 6:00 a.m.  I was the only one on the trails while I was there. More spruce and moss with the slight prospect (unmet) of boreal chickadees or crossbills. Lots of twittering in the upper branches--courtesy golden-crowned kinglets and juncos. Yellow-rumped warblers in big numbers too.
Barred Island Preserve, Deer Isle, Maine
 And look at that: a genuine Deer Isle deer.
White-tailed Deer, Deer Isle, Maine
And a sharpie/Cooper's(?) that tolerated my presence for a moment.

 The Barred Island trail leads right to the coast. You get some elevated looks at the islands to the south-west of Deer Isle.
But the preserve is named for what is at the end: Barred Island. And because it was high tide the island was barred to me.

No matter. I returned with the girls in the afternoon. After eating lunch at the Cockatoo at Goose Cove, we walked the rocks around the edge of the preserve until we got to the sand bar.
Note that Barred Island Preserve was now rather heavily populated. Folks come for the beach and the walk around the island (you can't actually enter the woods in the middle).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Maine Coast Day 3: Acadia National Park

Spotted Sandpiper, Bass Harbor Marsh, Bar Harbor, Maine
For my birthday, my brilliant wife had arranged a 4-hour tour of the Acadia area with Michael Good of Down East Nature Tours. We were to meet up at 5:30 a.m.  A hermit thrush was singing while I waited. A good omen.

The birding was good for late August. Lots of yellow-rumped warblers (TOO EARLY!) migrating through, as well as local breeders such as northern parula and black-throated greens. Zillions of twittering golden-crowned kinglets.

The highlight of the morning was discovered behind MDI High School.  A female peregrine falcon.
Peregrine Falcon, Bar Harbor, Maine
It was bothering a crow when we arrived. And then we saw the blue jays. Dozens of them (we ended up counting at least 40).

Initially they kept their distance. Wisely.
Peregrine Falcon, Bar Harbor, Maine
But eventually the blue jays got bolder and bolder. A very short video gives you a taste below.
Several kinds of ducks were in the area (keeping an appropriately low profile), including female hoodies.
Hooded Mergansers, Bar Harbor, Maine
We spent much of our time later in the morning at Acadia's lovely Ship Harbor.
View from Ship Harbor Nature Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Black guillemots are very common birds along the down east Maine coast, and rather uncommon winter birds in Massachusetts (in much drabber plumage), so I welcomed every opportunity to see them. Here's an immature and a probable parent bird in Ship Harbor.
Black Guillemot, Ship Harbor, Acadia National Park, Maine
Black Guillemot, Ship Harbor, Acadia National Park, Maine
On the flip side, there was some excitement over this eastern kingbird, apparently an uncommon bird in these parts.
Eastern Kingbird, Ship Harbor, Acadia National Park, Maine
I was grateful to have a knowledgeable guide for this tour. Acadia is such a large, diverse place that I wouldn't have known how to start. And I certainly wouldn't have started at the local high school. And I absolutely wouldn't have gotten a close-up view of a red-bellied snake!
Red-bellied Snake, Ship Harbor, Acadia National Park, Maine
Thanks, Michael. (And thanks especially to my brilliant wife).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Maine Coast Day 2: The Road to Acadia

Spotted Sandpipers, Goose Cove, Deer Isle, Maine
After waiting out a nasty thunderstorm, we took a brief stop at Goose Cove (we would return), and then headed out to visit friends on Mount Desert Island.

We had lunch in Blue Hill along the way. A guide book described a bird-oriented shop in town. We couldn't find it. We did find a picnic table looking over a lovely little estuary.  I sat and observed while everyone else shopped. Gulls, terns, yellow-legs, even a kingfisher.
Blue Hill, Maine
Lots of little gulls with the little spot behind the eye that usually indicates Bonaparte's in non-breeding plumage.
Blue Hill, Maine
But there was a diversity of looks so I think some (if not all) of them were actually laughing gulls.
Blue Hill, Maine
The strong black wing tips on the bird above indicates laughing. And the black headed gulls below are almost certainly laughing. Oh gull ID....
Blue Hill, Maine
Action was provided by a common tern.
Common Tern, Blue Hill, Maine
Common Tern, Blue Hill, Maine
We made good time up to Bar Harbor. Our introduction to Acadia National Park: a drive along the park loop road and up Cadillac Mountain.
View from Mt. Cadillac, Acadia National Park, Maine
A good preview of the day to come.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Maine Coast Day 1: Deer Isle

Morning scene from our cottage property, Deer Isle, Maine
Oh Maine is lovely in late August. We rented a cottage on Deer Isle for the week. Life in the midst of the mossy-floored spruce forest.
With a neighborly great blue heron across the cove.
It was a terrific home base for adventures to come.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nature Photos from Daddy Camp

Juno the friendly Beluga Whale pretends to eat Lily's head, Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, CT
A few father-daughter excursions this past week, each with a nature angle. The Museum of Science butterfly garden, for example, provided some nice butterfly/moth photo opportunities.
Blue Morpho, Museum of Science, Cambridge, MA
Atlas Moth, Museum of Science, Cambridge, MA
Brown Clipper, Museum of Science, Cambridge, MA
Then a somewhat more ambitious trek to Mystic Aquarium, where Lily got to hang with world famous mariachi dancer, Juno. While we were visiting, they tried to recreate the moment, but as you can see, weren't entirely successful.

Lily and I missed the mariachi performance but showed up in time to watch them get b-roll for what I assume is a more extensive production. Or PR piece.

And, except for the budgie that wouldn't leave her seed stick and the cockatiel that pooped on her arm, Lily enjoyed feeding the "exotic" birds at the Aquarium's bird tent. More photo ops.

Finally, a day closer to home. Lily and I stopped by the CRP to check nesting boxes. (Box 7 a mouse popped out). We also checked every milkweed we saw for monarch caterpillars. No monarchs, but we did spot this awesome wooly guy.
Milkweed Tiger Moth caterpillar, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
The grapes on the property are moving into ripeness. Lily and I spotted this bunch just about ready to go.
We also spotted a guy clipping off ripe bunches near the Redwing Bay parking lot. He drove off in his unmarked white van.

A lovely week of summer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Goldenrod days at Charles River Peninsula

Swamp Milkweed Beetle, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
The goldenrod is in full bloom and the insects are taking full advantage. And I can't resist a macro bug shot.
Goldenrod Leaf Beetle (maybe), Charles River Peninsula, MA
The beetle above looks like the farmer's nemesis, the striped cucumber beetle, but the spots on the area between the wings and the head suggest otherwise. This is one of the "Triirhabda" species, which are difficult to identify precisely. Their black wormy larvae can be seen munching on goldenrod leaves earlier in the season.
Anchor Stink Bug, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Then there's this delightfully decorated insect, a beneficial variety of stink bug. It was quite fearful of me but never took flight. And I got a lot of shots of it running away.
Check out the polka dots on its side.

I will admit a terrible weakness for macro shots of tiny bees and flies

Other wildflowers in bloom include the lovely groundnut.
Groundnut blossom, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Groundnut blossom, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
The groundnut is a native vine known more for its delicious root than its impressive blossom clusters.

And some berries are beginning to ripen, to the pleasure of the cedar waxwings.
 You can hear the waxwings at the CRP, including youngsters (barely visible in the shot below)
happily buzzing away.