Thursday, August 11, 2011

A few more from Maine

To finish up my series of posts of photos from our Maine vacation, I'll share these last few images. We fly into Bangor, and nearby is the Orono Bog, which we have visited in a few different seasons now. This time we were fortunate to see the Sundew, a carnivorous plant with sticky droplets on the end of hairs that cover each leaf. An insect can get trapped, stuck by the droplet, and the leaf slowly folds around the insect and digests it.

This Spruce Grouse kept a watchful eye on us as we passed. Her chicks were feeding nearby.

There were numerous types of orchid in bloom.

On another hike we found this saprophyte, Indian Pipes.

Maine can be thick with biting flies of many kinds, but we were not too bothered on this visit. I photographed this fly which seemed determined to hover in one spot.

This Canada Lily was in a botanical garden we visited.

Near the ocean we found Cedar Waxwings.

And a Common Yellowthroat.

This Belted Kingfisher sat on a wire, watching the creek below for any signs of fish.

An Osprey was gathering material to patch a nest.

We walked a short trail to Sand Beach in Corea. Sandy beaches are rare in that part of Maine. The ocean currents tend to take all the fine material southward, leaving the rocky cliffs and cobblestones.

The wild rose was in bloom.

This Black-throated Green Warbler visited us at Frasier Point, a part of Acadia National Park that gave us an opportunity to explore tide pools.

Acadia National Park

We visited Acadia National Park while in Maine. We walked this boardwalk near the Sieur de Mont Spring. The Red-eyed Vireos called from the treetops but were impossible to spot.

Here's a view from the Boardwalk.

We saw a Downy Woodpecker.

And a Puffball fungi.

This Eastern Phoebe has an insect it just caught.

My brother Timothy joined us at the end of our vacation, and he took us on a hike he enjoys, climbing the Beech Cliff Trail overlooking Echo Lake. Echo Lake has a swimming beach, so we could cool off with a swim after this steep climb.

This trail has numerous iron ladders bolted into the granite, and in this photo I've just climbed up one ladder and am photographing Cyndi below while she photographs me above.

After the hike, we went for a swim, and this American Black Duck was there at the beach, taking advantage of all the chips left over from some earlier picnic.

Sullivan, Maine

My parents live on an estuary called the Taunton River. It really isn't a river at all, but a narrows where the ocean's salt water ebbs and flows with the changing tides. At the head is Hog Bay, named for the domestic pigs that would wallow in the mud at low tide. It's just a short walk down the hill to the estuary, through the Gordon Cemetery. My parents purchased their home from the Gordon family. This headstone is for Admiral Judson Gordon, who died in New Orleans July 27, 1862. The headstone made reference to the fact that Judson answered his country's call to duty and died far from home. Though I do not know the details of this individual, some research informed me that the Battle of New Orleans was a pivotal Union victory in the Civil War. The battle was fought months before, so I can only wonder if Judson received a wound that much later proved fatal, or it he just perished of disease or some other cause, at the young age of 29 years and 4 months while serving Company 1 of the 13th Maine Regiment. How very fortunate I am, to have now lived more than two lifetimes when compared with his short time on Earth.

Here's another access to the estuary. This dirt road goes down to the water through an evergreen forest.

Many little creeks empty into the estuary.

The image below is Mud Creek. The tides come far to fill this creek bed with brackish water at every high tide.

Eel Grass and rockweed sit at the edge of the tidal basin, cast up at the high-tide line as the water ebbed.

At sunset the warm evening hues reflect off the water.

Here's an expansive view of the Taunton River, looking toward Hog Bay.

Whales, Puffins and pelagic birds

On our recent visit to Maine, Cyndi and I went on a whale watch with Bar Harbor Whale Watch. The tour we went on made a point of going to an island where Puffins nest, and we were as interested in birds as whales. Onshore it was a 90-degree day. On the Gulf of Maine, the temperature was 45-degrees. We knew we were getting close when we saw Terns bringing fish to their young. The short bill suggests this may be the Arctic Tern.

Here's the island we approached, Petit Manan. I think this might be Maine's tallest lighthouse. This was a large boat, a jet catamaran, so we didn't land. There were only a few bird researchers on the island.

Near Petit Manan we saw Common Murre.

And Razorbill.

The real excitement was over Atlantic Puffins.

They're not very aerodynamic. They're almost like a penguin, with bodies built more for swimming than flying. That colorful bill is only sported during the breeding season.

This next bird is a Laughing Gull. The black hood and red bill makes them distinctive, and much more showy than the prevalent Herring Gull.

And I saw Northern Gannett for the first time. Some of them were diving after fish, folding their wings back and plunging into the water like a dart.

We spotted Atlantic White-sided Dolphins. I'd never seen that mammal before.

There were Greater Shearwater in abundance, many floating on the ocean near where we stopped to observe the dolphins.

I enjoyed seeing the Wilson's Storm-petrel. They flit about just over the surface of the water.

Here's another. I'd get excited when I saw these birds and proclaim, "There's one!" to Cyndi, much to the irritation of the whale watchers who would always turn to see a whale and be disappointed, again.

When there's a whale, it's hard to miss. When it is a pair of Humpback Whales, they're awesome. "Thar she blows!"

Whale tails become encrusted with barnacles and scarred by encounters with Killer Whales, so every whale has a unique tail, much as people have unique fingerprints. The tail can be used for identification. The biologist on board the tour said these two were Gemini and Triton, and Gemini was first seen in 1976, and Triton in 1981.

There they go, back to the deep to feed in the cold upwelling nutrient-rich waters of the Gulf of Maine. Click on a tail to get a closer look at the scars, bite marks, and barnacles.

We watched them for about a half-hour. They often slapped their tails forcefully against the water, and the biologist said that is presumed to be a way to communicate over great distances, and may assist in knocking some of the barnacles off. I thought they were just "marking their territory" since there was a big boat stopped next to them. Maybe it is a warning, like, "Could be whalers." It was certainly a joy to watch, and the tour ran overtime ... to our delight.

Maine warblers and other birds

Cyndi and I took a trip to Maine in July, to visit my parents, eat some lobster, and see the Atlantic Ocean.

There are many icons that make me think of Maine.

The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird, so it is near the top of my list.

Blueberry fields abound in Maine. I even raked blueberries once long ago to earn some extra money, when I was in high school. They're harvested with a tool that is a bit like a scoop with tines, called a rake.

Every morning before sunrise we were awakened by birdsong, and getting out of bed was always rewarded with wonderful views of warblers and other birds in the yard.

Here is a Magnolia Warbler.

This one is a Brown Creeper.

Here's Cyndi sneaking up to view the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that is feeding in the locust trees. My mother grew those beautiful sunflowers, and behind Cyndi is a tangle of thornless raspberry bushes.

The raspberries were ripe!

Here's the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, hard at work making a new row of holes to allow the tree sap to flow. The sap is sticky and attracts insects. I think the sapsucker eats both the sap and the insects. You can see a previous row of holes, with white sap, near the bottom left of the picture.

This Leopard Frog was living in the garden.

The call of the Red-breasted Nuthatch could be frequently heard.

Both the above photos are Northern Parula. They sure are colorful.

The Black-and-white Warbler, like a Nuthatch, will often go headfirst down a tree or branch.

Though not brightly colored, the Black-and-white Warbler is very elegant and beautiful.

I suppose this one, though a bit distant, is one of my favorites. An adult Blackburnian Warbler is feeding the juvenile.