My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, May 22, 2016

First Visit to Acadia

May 14, 2016

One of the top things to do on my Maine bucket list is to visit Acadia several times. So soon after I arrived, I looked up the fees to go there and discovered I couldn't get a campsite until the end of May. In fact, most of the park is shut up until then. I blithely reserved a site for the weekend of Memorial Day to take advantage of the half price winter rates. THEN one of my bosses reminded me that I have to work at the bird festival most of that weekend. So I had to move my camping days up until the first weekend in June.

That made for a long time to wait to see this famous park. Most of our weekends seem to have rain in the forecast, but Saturday was supposed to clear up after early morning clouds and rain. So, contrary to my usual procedure, I got up late and leisurely got ready to go, not leaving until mid morning. I drove under rising fog and clearing clouds to arrive in bright new sunlight. I got to the park only a few minutes before the auto tour was to reopen to cars. It had been closed since the previous midnight to allow bikers to have the road to themselves. But the light was too harsh for photos, so I decided to explore Bar Harbor first. Then I planned to take a hike and finally do the auto tour close to sunset.

After I found my battery dead after lunch, and had to wait about an hour to find a driver near me that could give me a jump, I was afraid to turn off my motor. (But apparently I had a senior moment and left my lights on for a couple of hours while I enjoyed Bar Harbor.) So I just did the auto tour and left my engine running while I did short walks to enjoy the amazing coastal views from high up on the auto route.

I'll be taking at least my bike, and perhaps my canoe with me the next time so I'll have lots more to share with you. But for now, join me on my tour. 

Ferns unfurling 

The auto trail rides high above a bay

A side trip led me to this beautiful creek

Spring was just starting to move into Acadia

I haven't had time to find out what this is

Sand beach - this was at about 60 degrees

Love the craggy beach

Found a flock of common eiders a long ways out

The  park has lots of beautiful bridges

The day was moving back to cloudy in the late afternoon

A view from one of the high points  on the refuge

This herring gull had learned to beg

On the personal front, I joined a birdwatching group yesterday to see our incoming warblers.  We saw or (mostly) heard black-throated green, ovenbird, Tennessee, Magnolia, yellow, common yellowthroat, and several more, plus several other species, for a total of forty-eight species. 

And as soon as go back to the refuge, I just have to mop the kitchen floor in the intern bunkhouse, before I can clean "my" trailer and start moving in. I just hope that we don't get a lot of rain today.  

Hope you are also enjoying a wonderful weekend. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When a Hike is Work

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

One of my fun assignments here at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is to hike all the wilderness trails – there are four of them.

Today I hiked the Hanson Road Trail. I hike it the first time to mark, with waypoints, all the big trees that need to be removed from the trail. The rest of the times, I'll be hiking with my little saw and clippers to remove smaller trees that have fallen across the trail. And I'll take out baby trees and shrubs that are in or very close to the trail.

This trail was my favorite of all the ones I've hiked so far. (I hiked on a couple of trails to do the vernal pool survey.) It winds more than the other trails do, and has some pretty areas of big boulders. Also, the prettiest waterway I've seen on the refuge is where I stopped hiking because I would have had to walk across a stream by rock hopping and I didn't have my hiking stick with me to give me more balance. I'll have to come back in from the other end with my stick. 

Come along and see what I saw. And oh yes, the woods were ringing with the calls of the ovenbird. Click here to see and hear an ovenbird singing.  

I think these are serviceberries - please comment 

The trail wound around several boulders or boulder fields

Lots of tiny shrubs were putting out leaves

This is a tree that I will not remove - I made a waypoint for it and it will be mapped for someone with a bigger saw

The lake and drainage at the end of my hike - but the trail continues - the bottom right of the pictute is just across where you are supposed to hop rocks to get across. 

This is in wilderness and is no longer maintained - the water structures have washed/eroded out

I love to find beautiful geometry in nature

The geometry belonged to this little guy - I think a common garter snake

My most exciting moment of the trip was when I started to get back up off the side of the hill overlooking the lake in the above picture. I was sitting next to a large rock  - probably weighing over 100 pounds. When I touched it to help myself up, it started rolling downhill.  It then landed on several logs and is resting on them until they rot a bit more, when it will probably roll into the lake.  I was glad it rolled with just a touch and that I was not REALLY leaning on it yet. 

The hole - left and part of the boulder- right. I just slid a little right to take this picture,
before I tried getting up again. 

Oh  yes, I almost didn't produce a blog for today.  Life is very busy and we are having lots of rainy days. But I was so glad for this day.  The weather was beautiful until late afternoon.  Now rain is coming back.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Visit to Bar Harbor

Our weather has been very spring like – warmer with showers. Of course it mostly rains on weekends which is when I'm off. So, if it rains, I don't want to spend my gas money for nothing, so I usually plan to work.

Spring is getting exuberant

Last Friday it was expected to rain, but Saturday was supposed to be pretty good before getting rain again on this Sunday. So I worked on building my new garden on Friday,  then got up and waited for the morning rain to end before setting off to visit Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I went in and out of clouds and fog on the way, but just before I got to Acadia National Park, the weather got sunny. I went to the visitor center and got information about the park, then decided to go on into Bar Harbor for Lunch.

Bar Harbor is a cute, touristy town. I parked my car in a parking lot right on the water and immediately was immersed in beautiful views. The tide was out, the weather was warm and lots of people felt it was time to get into shorts and sandals. But I was comfortable in long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of beautiful, old, and probably very expensive houses with rocky shores and tide pools and long views to distant islands against a sky filling with clouds.

My first view of the bay around Bar Harbor

My first black guillemot

This little girl exemplified the day - loved to watch that hat teeter across the rocks

The newborn leaves were a very bright yellow-green

I spotted a trail winding along the shore in front of big estates and decided to walk it first while the noon crowd died down. 

The shore trail

I admired this photographer framing the island

Two birds flew very closely into the shore.  I realized one was a herring gull with a big piece of food, and the other was a crow.  The next pictures show what happened next. 

Gull has it and Crow wants it

The little guy was fast and snatched it

Then flew off with it, leaving a still hungry gull
One of the tour boats left as I walked the trail

At the end of the shoreline trail, I walked back towards Main Street and then took it back to the car, stopping to take pictures and detouring a few times to visit interesting shops. When I reached the car, I decided to park it in a different place in the parking lot, just to make sure I would not be in the same place for the three hours allowed.

First wild violets I've found

There were lots of spring gardens - but this poppy closeup was my favorite picture

I somehow managed NOT to go into any of these stores- but next time......

And a wonderful reminder of why I garden

A little park just above my parking lot and the pier

All the different store fronts made for a most interesting walk and views

I saw a place that looked like it would serve good lobster and walked to it, only to find that it wasn't yet open – the Season starts Memorial Day Weekend for lots of businesses. I walked on, finally coming to a kiosk selling trolley tickets and asked the man for a good restaurant. He pointed me to the West Street Cafe, almost across the road.

The herring gulls were the only gulls around but were VERY spiffy in their
bright pink shoes and blazing white shirts. 

A series of these cute cabins are for rent

This was the closest I got to seeing a whale

The West Street Cafe

I hoped to sit outside, but that area was full, so I had to join the few people inside. I was determined to have lobster, even though I really prefer it cooked spicier. Service was very quick and the lobster lovely. I was still hungry so added in a little bowl of clam chowder which may have been the best I've ever eaten.

The lobster 

When I got back to my car, it would not start. It would not even sputter. I had to wait about an hour to see if someone in three cars around me would give me a jump. Right after I gave up and tried to call AARP, a guy came by and gave me a jump. I was planning to drive along the auto tour in Acadia National Park, and do a short hike. I decided to do the tour, but not to take the hike. I got out my spare key and left the engine running when I stopped to take pictures.

On my way back home, I stopped at a Home Depot to get the materials from which to build a trellis frame. It will have a string trellis that I can take with me. After buying rebar, electrical conduit, and PVC corners and a 'T', I had to take more time to tie the 10' piece on top of the car. But that made me arrive in the best place to get a beautiful sunset picture.

Sunset on the way home

I came home and rushed to edit the best pictures and write the blog. I have to go into town to get wi-fi to put it up, but it will only be a few hours late. Then, Sunday, the day you may be reading this, I have to pick up a steam cleaner and then vacuum and steam clean the rugs in the other bunkhouse, and in the trailer into which I'm moving for the summer. In the late afternoon and early evening, I plan to watch the eagles which I haven't had time to visit for a few days. And I hope to get some peas and bean seeds soaking, so I can plant them on Monday. My move to the trailer was also scheduled to happen this weekend, but I need to get a few things fixed in the trailer – including my shower - before I move over there. I suspect I'll be working on that plus the garden for the next several evenings. And I'll have to make another appointment for my car – I just got the battery terminals and cigarette lighter replaced. Now I think I may need an alternator.

As I'm writing this, I'm listening to barred owls courting. That's one of my favorite night sounds and one I haven't heard for several years.  Life is good. Hope  yours is the same. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Maine's Slow Spring

Finding the appearance of anything to do with spring takes a lot of looking up here in Maine. But finally enough of it is creeping in that I think we can declare that Spring has, if not sprung, at least is making its presence known.

I've have to mostly look macroscopically for the signs of spring, but now the landscape is all starting to look like they are under spring's influence and the trees are getting that misty look as tiny leaves branch out.

I noticed these sprouting ferns while hiking to vernal pools to do the amphibian study

I think leaves are most magical at the moment they are just starting to unfurl

We have several species of bees out - haven't captured any with my camera yet
- but this is a sylfid fly - notice the fly-like angle of the wings. 

More new leaves

A closeup of blooming  pussy willow

Other than forsythia, I'm seeing very few flowers when I travel to Calais. But I passed a cemetery while checking the water gauges,  and was induced to take a few minutes off work to enjoy the flowers there. 

A phlox that was growing wild all over the cemetery - a great plant for pollinators

Jonquil trio

A tiny wildflower

More and more of our breeding birds are arriving. Tuesday I was out checking water levels on all our water structures and found a couple of solitary sandpipers and one spotted sandpiper. I associate the spotted sandpiper with paddling because I think I've seen it in every state in which I've paddled. In winter, in Texas we usually see several of them along the shore of any stream we paddle, either teetering along or doing their weak, low flight ahead of us over the water. And blackbird song is now pretty much everywhere. But we only seem to have a few of them around each body of water. 

Solitary Sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper all dressed up for a date

 And we have a breeding killdeer.  Apparently they haven't been found breeding here for several years. We found it on Monday, and today I made sure to mark the nest so we don't drive on it - it's in the middle of a tiny dirt road that only the staff can use.

Kildeer nest

In the last few days, I've started seeing both lots of bees, and a few butterflies. I took this picture today, Tuesday. It's probably a cabbage butterfly, but I've not seen this species before. Anyone know it? With so limited a time on the Internet, I'm not able to do a lot of work on figuring out my unknown species.

Cabbage butterfly on dandelion bloom

 I found a couple of little trees in bloom today as well. Don't know it either.

Some tree bloom

I was surprised to find that some of the water plants are already sending up leaves.  And today, I was amazed to find the bloom of a pond lily before any of its leaves had appeared.  I'm very familiar with them in Louisiana and east Texas, but always see them together with their very large leaves.

A red-leaved water plant 

The precocious pond lily

In Texas and Louisiana I always felt I had to rush to get to really "see" spring happening. It's kind of nice to see it come in so slowly up here.  These pictures were taken over the last three weeks.  

Sorry for the late post.  I've been so busy I've haven't had time to drive to town, much less work on the blog. I'm trying to get another bunkhouse totally cleaned, as well as my trailer- hoping to move in this weekend - and I'm working on putting in a little garden.  I'm also supposed to check out three trails and put waypoints where there are major impediments  - downed trees  - and also to cut out the over growth and small stuff growing in trails. And I am still doing the woodcock surveys most nights, but think that is almost finished.  And I try to watch the eagle nest several times a week for about two hours at a time. Life if good. 

If any of you know any of these plants I don't know, please comment.