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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Lifers Over Campobello

Campobello Cottage
I wasn't too hopeful when I drove over the bridge from Lubec, Maine onto Campobello Island, Canada and Roosevelt Campobello International Park. My goal was to find a nesting Northern Goshawk, and I was about 90% certain I was going to screw up and not find the hawk that's evaded me - so far.

My first stop was a small Visitor Center where a volunteer told me how to get to Eagle Hill Bog. Even with instructions, I managed to drive past it the first time, but at last I arrived. I have to say, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to follow Bob Duchesne's instructions. He, like my birding buddy Don, believes, a short walk is anything under 5 miles. Also, I was not absolutely certain Bob's instructions once I was at the bog's wooden walkway would work. So as I headed onto the boardwalk, I had a dubious view of the walking I was in for.
Entrance to the Eagle Hill Bog Boardwalk
I admit, the wooden boardwalk looked delightfully weathered.
 Along the way I saw and heard a few singing birds, such Palm and Magnolia Warblers.
Magnolia Warble in a Larch Tree 
I was overjoyed hat it only took about 20 or 30 minutes for me to find myself in a small area, I guessed was the one Bob had described to me. Eagerly, I scanned the trees looking for the Goshawk's nest. and looked up to see a Flycatcher immediately over my head. I was stunned - a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a lifer bird for me. I hadn't even anticipated one but ought to have expected it. Then, before I could even turn my camera upward, I was startled by loud screams, "KAK KAK KAK KAK KAK KAK!  The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher darted away and I looked up to see a Northern Goshawk, bulleted through the trees overhead. I hadn't found the Goshawk, but the Goshawk had certainly found me!

Those Ruby eyes were ANGRY!
I was looking at one furious bird. It landed in a tree, screaming at me all the while. I shouted, out, "I'll be out of your way quick! Hang in there!" I know it couldn't understand me, but hell, I had to acknowledge that I was intruding on its sacred grounds - its nesting territory.  I stood motionless, in awe as the huge hawk dive-bombed me, in earnest attempts to remove the top of my skull. 'OK!' I thought to myself, 'Get some pictures and get the hell out of Dodge.'
My Irate Lifer - the Northern Goshawk
DUCK! I mean, hawk, DUCK!
I could have spent a couple of hours admiring that gorgeous ball of fury & feathers, but I didn't want to stress the bird out anymore than I already had. A rapid series of shots of the bird screaming at me from tree limbs, and launching itself at my noggin, and I was back on the boardwalk. I never did find the nest the bird so vigorously defended.

Now the happy key note event of my trip to Campobello was over, I thought, 'What the heck! I'll visit the Roosevelt Cottage.'  I must say the cottage, with its mere 34 rooms, was beautiful and modestly decorated as though any minute the Roosevelts would return home from canoeing.
The cottage was chock full of guides with interesting tales
Where one can imagine loads of interesting meals
and even more interesting story telling took place

The cute kitchen room where the informal dining took place.  I could imagine Franklin and Roosevelt chatting or swatting at the kids over breakfast. Or would a governess do all the swatting?

I had a genuine thrill going up the central wooden stairwell, that led to the upstairs bedrooms and multiple bathrooms. It wasn't lost on me I trod up the same stairs that Eleanor Roosevelt spent her summers on, from the age of 19 into her adulthood. I said the cottage had 34 rooms, but that doesn't mean the cottage was Downton Abbey huge, it was Canadian modest. I was told Eleanor saw to it the family servants enjoyed the same comforts as the Roosevelt family did.
Upstairs, the bedroom where Franklin fell ill from polio and the window seat on
which Eleanor slept as she nursed him one dreadful night
One of the Children's rooms with a hanging model of a recently invented new fangled biplane
The Servants rooms were not that much smaller than the
family rooms and they were located in the same hallway

Here is one of the upstairs bathrooms, or rather 'water closet'.  It really wasn't much smaller than the smallest of the bedrooms. As there weren't private baths attached to bedrooms it may have been liberally used by the Roosevelt family, guests and servants alike. 

Please flush before you go on to the next photo.

Here is one of the best things at the cottage, located back on the first floor. A view of beautiful Passamaquoddy Bay. The guide said the view has changed quite a bit since the days the Roosevelts summered here. Hum... one has to wonder what the view may have been like back then.
The view from the living room
I really enjoyed the Campobello Cottage; a place I never dreamed I would tour some day. I headed back over the little bridge to Lubec.
Headed for the Roosevelt International Bridge back to Lubec, Maine
Once back in Lubec, I was off to Portland, Maine, from which I am flying out of tomorrow. Along the way I took note again of my last view of the low bush blueberries - that looked to me like red weeds when I first arrived in Maine. Now they look like plants that make those yummy tiny berries that graced some of my meals in Maine.
Wildflowers mix with low bush Blueberries. Colorful
beehives house the busy worker bees that keep the blueberries coming.
My Maine birding adventures are at an end for now and I'm bummed. The better the vacation, the worse the let down afterwards; sad but true enough. Here is my parting shot; 44 seconds of an accidental video I shot while touring the Campobello Cottage, tromping on that beautiful old stairwell. Enjoy!

Monday, June 02, 2014

Boreal Big Day

Happy Moose in the North Woods

I signed up for a post-Acadia Birding Festival trip, to boreal forests of Northern Maine. Everyone's goal for the day was a chance to see Boreal species, such as Boreal Chickadees, Black-backed Woodpeckers and the like. So we covered lots of territory, including Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge, Baxter State Park and a new site for me, the North Woods. The North Woods is privately owned lumber land, that allows free public visits; one just needs to abide by the company's rules and before entering the area, check in at one of the entrance stations.

I'm going to cut to chase - my big wish for the day was of course, Boreal Chickadees, and my second goal was to see a Canada Warbler - wish Granted!

My 'lifer' Canada Warbler

In the North Woods one male Canada Warbler came in answer to a recording, sitting where we could view him. He even sang us a bit of a song. What a thrill for me!

Singing a little song
Though the Canada Warbler is the bird that made the day for me, there were many other species; Nashville, Bay-Breasted, Palm and Black Poll Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, Gray Jays, Bald Eagles, Finches, Siskins, various finches and a sky's worth of Barn and Tree Swallows and... well, loads of others. 

The photo below is of most of the group. The guy on the right with a white beard, all in blue is premier birder Greg Miller. Heh... heh... heh... (Yes, I'm impressed even if you aren't). 

Walking through the North Woods

The North Woods had Moose, and we saw four of them. The photo on the left shows the massive size of a primitive pedal extremity. There's a moose hoof print in there too.

There were also several wildflowers to admire during the day.

Sheep Laurel
Sadly, the best flower of the day resisted giving up its color to any of our cameras. The early evening twilight messes with color photography. You will have to imagine how the Lady's Slipper flower below is as deeply, rosy pink as the flowers in the previous photo.

This Lady's Slipper was actually a brilliant rosy pink
At the end of a long day of tromping through forest, searching for several species of bird that seemed dead determined to thwart us, i.e., Boreal Chickadee, Three-toed & Black-Backed Woodpecker.  I had to admit that birds or no, I had a ball plus I now have Canada Warbler on my life list. Unexpected Bonus! Bob Duchesne, told me where I might be able to eek out another lifer bird - Northern Goshawk for my last full day in Maine tomorrow. So after the trip today, I was off north again. I thought I'd drive an hour or two then get a room somewhere, but I didn't pass through any towns. I drove on, through the pitch dark Maine night, avoiding the odd White-tailed deer on the roadway. I wondered if I was doomed to still be driving at dawn. At last I realized I had reached the now familiar-to-me tiny town of Machias. Greatly relieved, I took a room in the wonderful Machias Motor Inn in which I spent my first week in Maine. Good night Maine!