Saturday, June 09, 2007

Maine, Acadia to Jonesport and back

June 21, 2007

The next morning was foggy and drippy, but eventually cleared off. I started by poking down some trails out of the campground toward a bog to the west, and around a camping circle that wasn't in use. This was still too early for the peak of the season, and the national parks had been losing attendance, though I don't know if that's true of Acadia specifically. (I read later, '08, that there has been a trend nationwide to decreased outdoor recreation) Back out on the highway it was just a short way to the Wonderland Trail, and beyond that to Ship Harbor. Got a Purple Finch singing on a snag right there, a song that I don't know well, so several times on the trip I had heard it and had to scout down the bird. Mostly it turned out to be a good warbler day, adding seven expected northern breeders. From there I took an alternate route back to Bar Harbor, making some stops along the way wherever it looked interesting.

From Bar Harbor I got on the park roads, a separate system from the regular island roads, and headed for the trails branching off from the Native Plant Garden at Sieur de Monts Spring. There's a nature center there as well. That was a very good place, a low elevation wet woodland, probably a bog that had filled in. Found Wood Duck, Veery, and Least Flycatcher. Also found the friend's daughter, Shoshona, at the garden where it turned out she was working on an internship. We were surprised to find each other, I was surprised I recognized her.

Went down the Eastern coastal park road to a parking area below the cliffs of Cadillac Mountain. There were two rangers there with a spotting scope, hoping to find a nesting Peregrine Falcon, without luck. They were speculating that the stormy weather had something to do with that. I hung out there for awhile, and did find an Indigo Bunting across the road. The ranger was able o direct me to a Blackburnian Warbler further around the loop. By then I'd found 102 species, but the birding had slowed down a lot. So back through tourist world and up the coast to Jonesport, where I found some Wifi in the library, and a good sub at a little market. There was a private campground on a spit overlooking the harbor, a funny mix of improvements and primitive, but only $12, and equipped with gulls.

June 22, 2007

A good heavy breakfast in the local fisherman's place, not cheap, but ballast for the Dramamine. My technique now is to take one at bedtime and another in the morning, and another at noon if it's an all day trip. This wasn't. Folks started gathering in the parking lot at the dock, shy greetings, binocs a give-away. The boat pulled into it's slot about a quarter to six, and we were off by shortly after six. The day was gray with thick clouds, but not much fog. The photographer's knew the colors would be good. Trip out was a little over an hour, with gulls at first and later Common Loons, Common Eiders, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Gannets, and as the target island was discernible, strange shapes that the Captain Norton teased us to identify. I finally got a clear enough glance to figure the hatchet look of a Razorbill, but within minutes it all became obvious. Probably one to two thousand each of Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills filled the air and water, and semi covered the rocks. The island is a friendly bone of contention between the US and Canada, so the Canadians occupy it, but the navigation electronics are American. I hope I got that right.

The boat unloaded into a dory with an outboard and we got ferried to the slickest algae covered ramp of your nightmares, awash and sloshing, but with a railing, and finally not that bad. There was a small flock of Arctic Terns visible when we landed, but they weren't seen again. The group, maybe twelve or so, was split between two blinds where we were to stay for an hour. They stunk of guano, and rattled with the birds on the roof, and whirred and clicked with the cameras inside. For once I had my camera and tried my luck, which yielded a few good images. About two thirds of the hour was up when someone came to tell us to return to the boat. It was sprinkling already, and thunderheads were building over the mainland. Not long after we got started back it got to raining hard, with lightening. The chop got noticeably taller but not scary. An hours ride back, everybody crowded in the cabin or under the overhang, wet chilly spray and the grins, including mine, from seeing new life birds. This had been one of the focal motivations for the whole trip, and was really satisfying. Lifers now are not only hard to come by, but also often distant or brief views, while these were up-close, a few feet, and extended.

It was late morning when we got back, rain pouring over the vehicles, and eight or nine hours til dark. I found a House Finch through the windshield. I simply hoped for the best and headed for Moosehorn NWR. It rained mostly the whole way, but I did have a good talk with a naturalist there, and got some advice on trails and ponds which I hope will be useful some day. An interesting thing he told me was that only after twenty plus years of outdoor life in that area had he seen a Spruce Grouse. That was some perspective, and made me feel a little less of a failure for the several times I'd been in the right place, but not at the right time.

I drove around a little, tried a platform by the highway scanning wetlands, but was generally disappointed. I headed back for Bar Harbor, and the rain did finally stop. Dinner with Showy and her friend Tess, me talking about birding, them about college and career plans, and then early bedtime sleeping in the truck parked in their back-yard. I'd been up about eighteen hours and had driven about three hundred miles plus a Pelagic trip. Slept soundly for sure.


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