Un-static Time

I really haven’t been around my home here in Minnesota for over 7 years. My time in college drug me away from here in 2006 and the ponds, roads and woods where I tread as a wee lad haven’t seen my toe prints in quite some time. However, today I went out and walked behind the pond, one of my favorite spots, and was rewarded with birds and wildlife. A grouse was drumming, but was too smart for me to get close and watch him. I did encounter the  green below. He was bit skiddish, but posed in the back of the swamp for a bit.

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On my way back I encountered the Minnesota equivalent of a Cicada hatch. The fish flies were hatching in vast numbers and a north wind was pushing them off of Big Pine lake and onto the mainland in front of me. The cedar waxwings, possibly a hundred or more, were dining, scoffing and pigging out on the crunchy flying wings. I sat and watched with my Mom for 15 minutes as waxwings gleaned in front of us. It’s amazing to me how everything we see is such a snapshot in time! If we had been there tomorrow we would have never known that such a large collection of bugs and birds had gathered. Below, I caught this waxwing going for the fishfly, which got away!

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As we rounded down our gravel road we came upon a Hoary Pacoon (below) growing in the ditch. This prairie remnant was the only one blooming in an area that I recall having many along with prairie smoke and other prairie species. How long would it be before the small, wooded lot I watched the cedar waxwings in would suffer the same fate as these species? When I return 7 years from now, will there be any more hoary pacoon? Should I be saving the seeds and re-planting them somewhere else? But then, I walked by, sensing the fruitlessness of any interaction.

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One bird we saw was a welcome sight was this Tree Sparrow. These birds are defined by the lone black spot on their chest. This one obviously has a family on the brain!

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I do still see many of the things that are familiar to me. The forget-me-nots are in bloom, and these delicate flowers are always welcome around the house and in the garden! They remind me of growing up and going to my Grandpa’s, where a fast, ocean colored field of blue out back was always a contentious point between my grandmother and he. When to cut the lawn? Could the lawn be cut before the FMN’s were done blooming? YES! Said one, while “NO!” said the other. My grandmother always won, and the lawn wasn’t cut until the flowers stopped blooming.

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So, it’s no secret, but time isn’t static. However, don’t lament in it, or feel bad for yourself. Instead use it as incentive to be out doing what you enjoy, knowing that it will never look the same twice!

Rare-ducks, rare mornings and rare views. Acadia National Park!

I have to start out this post with a description of trials and tribulations. My mom (who had just flown in from MN) and I wanted to head to Acadia National Park one last time before making the drive from Maine to MN. To sweeten the deal we decided to leave early for some black-bellied whistling ducks that had been hanging around the MDI highschool. We left early, and on the way experienced car trouble. The clutch dropped out of my truck! Ever pulled up to a toll plaza and had no ability to downshift? It happended to me… once. So, we had to call in a flat bed and got towed into Augusta. There we dropped the vehicle off and picked up a loaners. All within 60 minutes. GREAT! We arrived in Bar Harbor in time for our scheduled Whale Watch tour and were standing in line when the cancellation announcement came through. It was shocking, seeing as the sky was clear and there was no wind, but I guess the offshore fog was just too bad! After the cancellation of the whale watch we decided to head for the BBWD’s and were rewearded! They are shown below.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

We also were rewarded with new life throughout the pond. There were goslings and ducklings in both of the ponds. In both cases it’s plain to see Mom and Dad watching out!

Watchful Parents! P5300074-4

From a little birding it was time to command and conquer! We had a Cadillac Mountain Summit in our future and on our brains.  We took the West Face trail up the mountain which starts at Bubble Pond. If you have had the opportunity to climb this mountain and this trail, good on you! It’s straight up the mountain and is a bit grueling at times, but you can’t miss the summit! Here you can see a panoramic shot of the mountain.

Summit!

We headed back down the mountain and went straight for the Wild Gardens nature area. There we met up with my coworker, Tim Divoll, to do some bat trapping. One of the main pieces of the work at Biodiversity Research Institute is its bat monitoring and research efforts. As you may know bats have been hard hit by white-nose syndrome which has killed an estimated 5.5 million bats. This disease, along with deforestation and other habitat loss have been some bad species in a critical state. The objective of the bat trapping in Acadia was in collaboration with state, federal and university individuals to help understand the immunology, mercury and population dynamics of small-footed bat in Acadia. These bats are very small – one that was captured this night weighed in at a mere 3.2 grams! The picture below shows a small-footed bat with its characteristic black mast. The wing pictured is Tim Divoll checking this bat for scarring, which is an effect of white-nose syndrome.

Small-footed Bat Small-footed Bat

The next morning at Acadia was indeed a rare, and beautiful one! We drove to the summit of Cadillac Mountain where we watched the sunrise. From this vantage point we are one of the first to see it in the US! I did a time-lapse capture of the sunrise, which can be viewed:

HERE <<- CLICK!

After taking in that rolling fog (did you see it?), passing planes (did you see it?), lobster boats (did you see them?) and of course, the sunlight and changing landscape we headed down to Jordan Pond for a walk. The highlights of the trip were many, but included few people, expansive views and incredible weather! I’m told pop-overs at Jordan house are a necessity, unfortunately we missed those.

Here is the view from the south end of  Jordan pond (see the sun to the East?). There was blooms coming from the cottonwood trees and lazily floating on the surface.

Jordan Pond

Wildlife was abundant through our 4.5 mile hike around the pond! here you can see black-throated green warbler gleaning insects, a red squirrel digging for some insects behind the birch bark, a black-and-white warbler, a peregrine falcon flying a long the ridge-line and a common yellow-throat warbler. Of course my camera can only capture so many things! It didn’t capture the sounds of blackpolls, redstarts and black-throated blues. Nor did it capture the small minnows in the water.

Common Yellow-throat Warbler Black-throated Green Warbler Peregrine Falcon Black-and-white Warbler Red-Squirrel

Once we hit the north end of Jordan Pond the views were still there (they never left). The rocks in the picture below are only a few inches in diameter. Don’t be fooled by perspective!

Jordan Pond

From the north end of the pond I found the highlight of the trip. This may fly had just hatched. Most likely he spent the year growing and growing, this is his moment to shine! He posed in the sun, soaking it in before taking off in front of my camera. Thank you for your Time and Beauty!

Mayfly Mayfly

So, that’s my trip to Acadia National Park. I hope you enjoy!

Ian

Baxter State Park : Flowers, roaring water, wide vistas and Quintessential Spring

Sometimes you have to aim a bit lower than you want. If you were to head to Baxter state park you might have a Katahdin summit on the brain. I know I did! However, snowy conditions at the summit (on Memorial Day!) as well as high winds ensured that I wouldn’t be taking to the high-roads. So, Carl Anderson and I stuck to the lowlands for some birding and sightseeing. We covered some ground, about 5 miles, and it was perfect! Below are some of the pieces of spring in BSP that lead to an incredible experience.

Painted Triliums were a common forb along the trails and bogs. These flowers are delicate and beautiful! It was my first experience with these type of trilium. Very cool!

 

Painted Trilium - Baxter State Park, Maine
Painted Trilium – Baxter State Park, Maine

I’ve seen a lot of Ruffed Grouse in my time, but never had I seen such a “ruff” display. Incredible!

 

Ruffed Grouse
Ruffed Grouse

One of the northern breeding ducks, Ring-neck ducks are often confused with scaup. Here a female (above) is sunning herself on the rocks of Grassy Pond.  Below a male preens himself while a female looks on.

 

Ring necked Duckst at Baxter State Park
Ring necked Duckst at Baxter State Park

Ring-necked Duck Female

These white trillium are a bit of a mystery to me. If someone is reading this blog happens to know… are these white trillium a white phase of the painted trillium? Or are the a separate species?

White Trilium (species unknown)
White Trilium (species unknown)

 

A roarining waterfall at Baxter State Park
A roarining waterfall at Baxter State Park

A lifer bird for me this Swainson’s thrush was bouncing around the streamside at Abol Campground.

 

Swainson's thrush during a migratory fallout at Baxter State Park
Swainson’s thrush during a migratory fallout at Baxter State Park

Here’s the view of Mount Katahdin from the Dacey Pond road. See the snow on summit?!

 

A Panorama of Mount Katahdin
A Panorama of Mount Katahdin

Carl and I agree, Big Niagra falls (Above, Below) was instant Zen. How many times have you listened to the waterfalls and cleared your mind? I can guarantee, if you take the time to sit next to a waterfall, that you will not remember anything that you were thinking about! The sound, the smell, the vibrations in your chest, the sights all clear inundate and clear your mind!

 

Sitting at Big Niagra Falls, Baxter State Park with Carl Anderson
Sitting at Big Niagra Falls, Baxter State Park with Carl Anderson

 

 

Observe: The impossible

 

Observe: The impossible <<- Click Link

WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE has been figment of legend for years. Can one truly, honestly train a cat? Well, I’m here to both submit testimony and evidence of its possibility. For evidence, look no further than the short video of this trained cat rolling over on command. This oreo cat, named Missy, has been in intense training for the last year or so to learn to roll over. And she’s finally mastered it. Now, fetching newspaper is next!

Les Miserbles Finale

Les Miserable Finale Solo

My time here in Maine, has been music filled! Thank you to Gorham Community Chorus (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gorham-Community-Chorus/431017440319928?ref=stream) and the Portland Community Chorus for great times singing in each of those choirs! My last Maine concert was held last weekend, and I got to sing the final solo to Les Miseables. I felt it was very fitting! The music is beautiful, and if you’ve ever seen the show (either the play, or the movie, which is recommended). You can just imagine each of the scenes as the the music starts. In the final Jean Valjean is dying after completing his life work. Enjoy!

Porky-Pine

Porky-Pine

Porcupine

This half pint porcupine was just too funny. I was birding with Robby Lambert and heard a rustlin in the woods. This guy came trundling out and panicked when he saw me. So, he climbed the first thing that he could. An 8 foot pine tree! He got about half-way up before realizing that it was time to switch from “RUN!!” to “BLEND IN!”. I can just imagine this little guy thinking “I Am a Pine Tree… I am a pine treee…. I am a pine treeee”. So cute and so funny!!

In fact. I even wrote a short ballad about him:

Deep in his thoughts
Porky trundled along
As a human next to him
Listened for a bird song

When their eyes quickly met
Neither would or could forget
And one scrambled up a tree
As the other slang his OM-D

But alas! This tree is too short!
Thought Porky, I have no retort!
The human thought differently, this tree is just right!
Now, only if I had a bit better light

So they stood eye to eye
And then it was done
For the porky had transformed into a pine tree
And the human had had his fun