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Friday, May 30, 2014

The Arcadia Birding Festival

Sightings Board at Arcadia Birding Festival Center

Yesterday my Maine adventures continued when I arrived in Acadia; believe me, the day was an adventure. For starters, my iPhone insisted the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel where I am staying, was miles from the actual hotel. I ignored it and eventually found the place on my own - imagine - on my own, like I used to in the 'olden days'! Later I took a quick driving tour of Acadia National Park, and later in the day I had a low key adventure - and I swear it was an adventure - doing laundry.

View from Cadillac Mountain, at the top of Acadia National Park

Today's adventure began with the second festival of my Maine vacation, the Acadia Birding Festival. The first event I took part in was on the second day of the festival; the Boreal Van Trip to the north.

The trip leader was Bob Duchesne, the same person leading the post-festival Boreal Big Day this Monday. There were fifteen birders on the tour, traveling in a jeep and the van, and I rode shot gun, hurrah! It was a long haul, including a quick stop for breakfast, before we were were birding, north of Machias, to Rouge Bluffs. Bob found us a few Spruce Grouse.

Weary Spruce Grouse Cock
ALMOST a good shot; if I'd just been a tad quicker

White-throated Sparrow
We were mostly looking for Boreal Chickadees, which have eluded me for ages. Bob told us they were going to be difficult to find because they're currently nesting and we'd have to be lucky to find any outside of their nesting cavities. Overall, as Boreal Chickadees go, today was not my day.

How bad the mosquitoes were at
Moosehorn Refuge is no exaggeration!

Our next stop was where I was attacked by mosquitoes and black flies last week at Moosehorn Refuge, the Edmunds Division. I was a bit worried, but  happily, there were no bug attacks on me today. Whew!

The walk we took at Edmunds was also less of a death march. We also visited a spot called Boot Cove Road, near Lubec, Maine. Lots of little warblers, loons, an Osprey and even some Wood Ducks, but alas, no Boreal Chickadees. 

Nice male Bay-breasted Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Singing Male Cape May Warbler
Rare view and a rare shot for me - female (left) and male (right) Common Yellowthroats
I can not emphasis enough what a huge treat it is to see so many beautiful eastern Warblers. I mean, yes we have warblers, such as the Yellowthroat which are found nationwide, but let's face it - the Eastern part of North America got the lions share of these 'butterflies of the bird world'. It is wonderful being able to see and hear the bright spring songs of warblers. 

Tromping through the boreal forest
Carnivorous Pitcher Plant, denizen of boreal bogs

Robin's nest made of Coconut
and blue M&Ms
The Boreal Van Trip made for a long day, but it wasn't quite over yet. Back at the Acadia Birding Festival Center we were back in time for the evening social, the time for birders to chat and sample volunteer's homemade  h'orderves. This one on the left was a fav of mine, a nifty little dessert that was completely edible & quite yummy.

However yummy the desserts were, the best thing about the social was that afterwards, across the street at a cute little wooden building that may have been a church at some point, was where everyone gathered to hear the Festival's guest speaker: Greg Miller! 
Greg Miller
Birders, and many non-birders know Greg from the book & the movie, The Big Year. Tonight Greg spoke about  how his father had a passion for birding that rubbed off on him. In later years, Greg used his computer skills to puzzle out what spots in North America would net him the most bird species seen, ergo, the biggest bang for his bucks. That lead him to finding himself with 500 species seen by mid year in 1998. Impressed birders egged him into trying for seeing more birds that year than any other birder. He jumped at the chance. He ended up third in the heated competition and had a year any birder would kill for. Subsequently, Greg was approached by Mark Obmascik, who thought the race by three birders would make a great book - and it did. Then, when the smoke cleared, hollywood decided the book would make a great movie so again, Greg found himself in the spotlight. The movie producers asked him to be the movie's birding specialist. He did so, and even got to meet Jack Black, who portrayed him in the movie. Steve Martin and Owen Wilson played the other pair of hard core birders in the movie.

It was a totally blast hearing Greg Miller speak. I sat in the front row, and when it was announced he would autograph the books, I was the first to get a couple of the paperbacks signed; one for me, and one for my birding buddy Don. Don't be too impressed! Don told me he has a copy of Sibley's newest bird guide autographed for me by Sibley so to put it colloquially, 'I ain't impressing no one!'

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