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Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Boreal Forest and a case of the Maine Measles

Yesterday afternoon when the Puffin island voyage was over, I headed for the Down East Birding Festival HQ ASAP. From there I joined up with an afternoon hike at southern Edmunds division of Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. We traveled by van and when both vans arrived, we got out and a general slathering of various insect repellants began.  Now I've been to many places famous for  mosquitos, e.g., Alaska, Florida and Texas, but they have nothing over Maine for mosquitos and a new horror to me - Black Flies. Quickly I realized that as far as boreal insects are concerned, the insect repellant on my skin was a tasty condiment. My fellow birders stared at me in amazement as notable black clouds of insects hoovered over my head.

A kindly couple of birders gave me a sort of green mist net that covered my entire head. I could see through a verdant mist, and when I held binoculars to my eyes, I could see well enough, again, through a pea green haze.

A clearing in a Moosehorn Refuge forest

We walked along a dirt road, surrounded by bird afternoon bird song. Parula, Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided and Bay-breasted Warblers noisily told us of their presence. A Northern Waterthrush - a fairly shy one - flew back and forth across the road, daring me to get a photo of it, which I managed - but only barely.

Super shy Northern Waterthrush, that hid itself well
Equally blocked view of a male American Redstart

at last, a bold male Bay-breasted Warbler in all his 'chocolate & cream' glory
The hike through the boreal forest of Moosehorn, was something of a death march for not only myself, but several other birders, though I must admit those birders had a good decade on me age wise. I have been working out for months in hopes of avoiding such major energy glitches, but sometimes distances walked and jet lag sustained win out. Ugh! Thought I was going to die, but I did make it through the day without dying and that's all I ask for in the long run.

Bright and early today, I got up driving north on a pleasant drive to East Port, Maine, where I was scheduled for another bird watching cruise aboard the Lobster boat, the "Lady H". On the way - it was about a two hour drive - I stopped often to enjoy the beautiful Maine scenery and of course the birds. I stopped at a beautiful meadow to admire several Bobolinks, with their pretty tawny hats. I can always recognize Bobolink song, because their song sounds like R2D2.

A male Bobolink singing his R2D2-like song
I got a kick watching this male Bobolink singing
as he did his fancy, 'show off his stuff' flight
When I arrived at Rockport I was early at the dock - the boat was to leave the dock at 1:30. So I took a little drive around the town. Afterwards, back at the pier I bought some fish & chips at a little kiosk. I was lollygaggin' around when I happened to notice my iPhone... it was 1:45 PM! It was a total out-of-body experience. I mean, I was suddenly missing an hour of time and I had no memory of where it went. Had I been abducted by aliens or was am I just getting senile?  How did I miss the freakn' boat! I was totally upset and sadly I headed back south, down to my room in Machias. I have never, ever missed a festival event before and I am completely flabberghasted that I somehow managed to miss this one. 

I should mention I am staying at Machias Motor Inn this week and I really like it.

My room faces the river, which is only a stone's throw from my patio door. There are lots of cormorants and ravens flying around by the river.
The view from my room in Machias
 Oh well! It is the end of my second day in Maine, and it certainly has been memorable - and you can take that as a good or a bad thing, your choice.
Maine Measles

Oh! One last thing... after the hoards of Black Flies finished with me today, I look like I have a case of the measles. Their tiny bites actually hurt and I smashed the stupid things as they bit me, but at least the bites aren't itchy or sore. Stupid, stupid flies! 

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