Black Bear Twins

Black Bear Twins
Black Bear Twins

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Birds of May

I just got around to putting out a suet feeder and a tray feeder filled with black oil sunflower seed.  Sunday, May 1, was the third day I'd had the bird food out on my back deck and was constantly stopping other work to try and take photos of all the different species of birds.  I had the first purple finches I've seen in about 20 years, goldfinches, with the male in stunning and glorious yellow, pine siskins and extremely spiffy white-crowned sparrows. Dark-eyed juncos showed up and the eastern phoebe and blue-headed vireo called almost constantly. I heard and saw mourning doves but haven't seen them at the feeder yet.

A male white-crowned sparrow  in fresh feathers

American goldfinch - probably a young male

American goldfinch in eye-blinding yellow

Junco's have found the bounty

These are purple finches - haven't gotten to see them for over 20 years

Ms. purple finch

I found my niger feeder, so bought nigher.  The pine siskins are fighting over it and only occasionally allow a goldfinch to access it.

Pine siskins are so bold, they will let me get about 8 feet of them

A very spiffy and shy chipping sparrow - that's my hammock straps on the back deck

A singing song sparrow

And I caught up with a few birds that will be with us this summer the last few days of April.  On April 28, I started seeing hermit thrushes and by the following day, they were everywhere. And I started hearing ruffed grouse boom, and then watched one display on the road while I was checking water levels.  We have had ring-necked ducks since I've arrived but one pair was obviously courting.

Hords of hermit thrushes showed up April 28

NOW I understand why he is named ruffed grouse
This pair was doing some courting displays

And of course,  our resident eagle will still be here. I'll give you an entire blog in a few to several more weeks. Currently I'm watching the nest from around six o'clock until about seven-forty or so, when I go to "work". My favorite picture so far is of mom feeding the two chicks.  I'm working at the very end of my camera's ability so they are not my usual quality.

Eaglets morning of May 3

Monday I saw the first hooded mergansers, although they live here year around.  And yesterday, I heard a few catbirds, and have been hearing blue-headed vireos for a few days. Still waiting for a look at them. 

I just realized I've been running so fast, I didn't notice that I passed my 500th blog milestone. This is blog number 502. Thanks for reading and commenting on them.  You comments feel like I get to visit with you. 

I'm joining Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click the picture below to read more wonderful blogs from around the world about wild birds. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Exploring Fundy National Park

April 24, 2016

I am currently living almost on the American/Canadian Border so at least half of my driving trips will be in Canada. Last Saturday we had rainy weather so I decided to only go off for a day trip on Sunday. I thought this blog would be about my visit to all the local saints – that is cities named for saints, St. Steven just across the St. Croix River from me – down Canada Highway 1, there are towns belonging to St. Andrew, St. George, St. John, and St. Martins.

I wanted to be out early for good photography light so I was crossing the border at 5:30 A. M. But at each place I could go explore coastal cities along the route, I decided I was too early, so decided to go as far as I could and then work my way back. Before I knew it, I was at the turn for Fundy National Park. There I got so distracted, that I ended up spending most of my non-traveling day there.

The park rises high above Fundy Bay and offers great views of it. The park is still mostly shut down for the season and only offers day use, as far as I could tell. I could not find any maps of information on Park attractions but did have a few attractions listed in my guide to New Brunswick.

This is an engraved poster showing the park.  I live off the left hand corner. 

I saw this view from several levels - this is not far above the shore

I stopped at every attraction near the highway as I came south through the park. Within a few stops, I realized that the park has a signature icon – a family set of lounge chairs. I kept seeing them at viewing points along my drive.

First view of red chairs-apparently all families should have two children

Chairs overlooking the bay near the closed Visitor Center

Another set of chairs

This looks like a squirrel but it had a rat tail

One of the attractions I knew about was Dickson Falls. It is on the road that leads from the Visitor Center to Wolf Point, a road that runs high above Fundy Bay. It was easy to find and I took the loop trail, starting with the one labeled the shortest. That trail led me to an overlook almost at eye level with the upper part of the falls. I wanted to get closer, so took a side trail that then led down many steps to the bottom of the falls, and then on down along Dickson Creek, which by the way is completely within the park. By the time I was finished, I'd walked the complete circle of trails. 

Some of the stairs going down to the falls

These plants were just starting to grow - Les or anyone - what are they?

The falls were beautiful
The moses made for a beautiful landscape

Finally the easy down ended, and I had to climb a set of about 50 steps and then walk up a pretty steep path to return to the parking lot.

On the way back up I found a tiny falls over a log in a side stream
This dark-eyed junco seemed to be posing so I took his picture

I found that one of Maine's covered bridges is also on the road to Wolf Point. In fact, I had to drive through it to get to Wolf Point. There I hiked down to the Wolf Point Beach which was only a narrow comma of sand in a little bay.

Wolf Point Bridge

You can enjoy the view of the bridge from a set of red chairs

The trail down to Wolf Point Beach

I think this is a spruce grouse 

I decided to go find a restaurant in the town of Alma, which adjoins the refuge. I'd been seeing ads for Alma's Lobster so went to find it. It was closed and will open “soon”. I did find one restaurant open and ate lunch there. I had a very delicious seafood chowder, and sauteed scallops.

Sounded great - will have to go back

I was amazed at finding these wild blooming flowers near Alma's Lobster Shop

Molly Kool was America's first American sea captain and was a native of Alma

Part of Alma is on a hill

As ever, I enjoyed the churches along the way. 

Loved how the steeple and door was in the corner

I was getting tired in the early afternoon and decided to start home. I noticed that I could make a small detour to see another covered bridge.

This bridge is not as scenic

I last remember enjoying pussy willows as a five year old so I'm loving them up here

This cute church has been recycled into a gift shop but it was closed

 I noticed that St. John has a reversing falls. I figured I had enough energy to check it out and enjoyed the view of the water and the city in the evening light. 

Reversing falls in St. John

 On the personal front, I'm having a blast.  I got the bears in my header picture while out checking our numerous water control features. And I've been given the job of checking out the nesting eagle.  I got a picture of mom and a baby on April 28 and a terrible picture of mom and two babies on April 30.  I'm working on an Eagle Diary that I'll share with you in a few weeks so you can watch the babies grow up. And I'm really loving hiking around with Mike.  Last week, we stopped and tried to figure out some strange finch-like birds.  Turns out they were red crossbills, a lifer for me.  And we had a pine siskin come within four feet of us.  And this morning I met our resident woodchuck.  He lives in a drain pipe near the headquarters building. I'll take my camera and try for a picture of him soon. And I set up bird feeders Friday and have white-throated sparrows visiting.

HAPPY MAY DAY - although if feels more like March up here

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Exploring the Refuge

My second great job was to drive all the refuge roads, checking to make sure they were open. (We had a big storm the day before I arrived which took down trees across the refuge.) I documented several downed trees and brought home the waypoints for them so the tree cutters could go find them.  We do woodcock surveys on all the roads inside the refuge, so it was important to be sure we could do the surveys, which will start this week.

Here are some of the views I've found on the refuge.

View of Meddybemps Lake borders our refuge - this picture taken just south of the refuge

Birches at sunset

We have a lot of marches - they seem to be called flowage up here

Coyote or bobcat scat

One of many species of lichens

View on path to the wilderness area

First of season bufflehead  - part of a group of six

A higher than usual lake draining off through a culvert

Longer view of same area

Ring-necked ducks were here when I got here

Another beautiful place

Beaver dam on pond

First mullein I've found here - doesn't act as an invasive as it does out west

This scene was prettier than the picture

I love the mix of plants that colonize the large boulders

I discovered a photo blind  - while have to try it out

We have a lot of water rushing from our impoundments - this was taken
while waiting for rescue - it's just the other side of the pickup below. 

Only minutes before I would have finished my task of checking the roads, I got stuck on a levy trying to turn around.  The cure was to put the truck into 4-wheel drive.  But two staffers came to rescue me.  Pretty embarrassing.  Apparently 3/4 ton pickups are pretty wimpy in 2-wheel drive.  I was rewarded with this wait time by getting to see the first-of-the season tree swallows returning.

The stuck-in-the-mud truck

Monday night, on the way home from writing this blog, I saw a beautiful sunset in the making.  So I came back to town on Tuesday evening to add a picture before going back to run my first woodcock survey with staffer, Murray.  We have to start 15 - 30 minutes after sunset, depending on the cloud cover.

Sunset over one of our marshes