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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Baxter State Park, Maine

Cute giant painted rock on the road to Maine's Baxter State Park
Yesterday I drove a lot of hours driving north from the Maine coast to arrive at Baxter State Park.  The photo above is a view as one approaches a southern entrance to the park. When I reached the entry kiosk, I was surprised to find out there is quite a fee for non-Maine dwellers to enter the park $14, which is even more than one pays to enter a California park, though the California fee includes California citizens. Still, I guess someone has to shell out money to support parks so the fee didn't stop me from visiting the park both yesterday and again today for a total of $24 of park enjoyment.

Baxter State Park has beautiful scenic views of waterways
 The park is humongous, and it is largely a boreal forest with loads of wildlife and even wilder rivers. My visit to the park was largely and almost totally in vehicle - I drove for a couple of hours to reach the fartherst northern bit of the park. Along the  way I many interesting things, and of course, enjoyed lots of good birding.
The outcropping of rock makes this hill rather a 'sweet heart' don't you think?
 One reason I didn't walk around much was my growing fear of biting black flies and mosquitos, which I will elaborate on later, and the thickness of plants and moss on the boreal forest floor. Ok, and perhaps my general hatred of hiking had a bit to do with it too. Still, I did get out of the rental car to chase after lots of interesting birds.

Female American Redstart

Showing her tail just before she flits off
Male Black-throated Blue Warbler, serenading some fine young thing
Ms. Fine Young Thing
Least Flycatcher

There was a spot I found in the forest that was filled with the sound of frogs calling "Chee-bek! Chee-bek! Of course, I learned in Manitoba Canada that not all froggies are frogs - some are actually  Least Flycatchers.

The greatest reason I journeyed all the way to north-central Maine was in hopes of locating a Bicknell's Thrush. Alas, no Bicknell's for me. I have a start when earlier today a Thrush jumped out onto the road in front of my car to nab a worm, but alas, a Hermit Thrush which can be found back in California in my own back yard.
Taken through car windshield: a hungry Hermit Thrush
Still, 'no great loss without some small good' I always say. No Bicknell's Thrush, but I certainly lucked out in finding several Spruce Grouse, all on my own. Mind - I'd have had to be blind to miss the things, but I was still pretty impressed with myself.

A handsome, fat Spruce Grouse on a Baxter Park road
I spotted another little Cockerel in the thick undergrowth, and to my amazement, he put on a bit of a show for me. I think there must have been other birds nearby he was either trying to woo or intimidate. The way he kept the little red feathery puffs above his eyes flared is wonderful.

There were a few wildflowers around for me to admire too.

Sessile Bellwort
Painted Trillium
I certainly believe I got my $24 worth out of Baxter State Park, even if I didn't see any Bicknell's Thrushes. And I certain enjoyed the hours of new scenery I saw en route and on my return today back to the coast and Calais, Maine. 

The 'Farewell' side of the boulder on the way out of Baxter State Park.

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