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Friday, September 14, 2012

Maine Vacation

     Sharon and I have recently returned from a great time in Maine. We drove the whole coast line from New Hampshire up to Eastport, ME and then farther north to Moosehorn NWR. The trip was a mixture of birding and sightseeing (mostly birding for me). We visited many lighthouses and state parks along the way. My favorite lighthouse has always been Nubble Light because of the great views it offers. See below.

Nubble Light at Cape Neddick, ME
     On the first day of driving we actually stopped at West Point to tour the grounds. It was an impressive academy with a major emphasis on sports. Then we drove to a ferry in Connecticut and crossed the Connecticut River to the Gillette Castle. This was built by William Gillette who was an actor who played Sherlock Holmes back in the twenties in the silent movie days. He was quite prosperous. 

Gillette Castle
After 13 hours on and off the road we finally arrived at Scarborough Marsh in Maine. This is a very large marshy area that runs downs to the ocean so you can get all kinds of birds. We managed to find Bonaparte's Gull, Common Tern, Little Blue Heron and lots of other stuff but the most exciting were several Nelson's Sparrows pictured here.

Next we stopped in Pittsfield ME to visit one of our old employee's from the feed store who moved to Maine to start an alpaca farm. She now has about fifty alpacas and about a hundred ribbons that her animals have won at shows around the country. Of course we had to go visit the alpacas.

 Next we were off for more sightseeing with a quick stop at Stephen King's home in Bangor, Maine.


We finally arrived at our main destination which was Acadia National Park. We arrived just as planned, on my 62nd birthday and purchased our Senior Pass for $10 which entitles us to free entry into all national parks for the rest of our lives. So we celebrated with popovers at Jordan Pond and with a lobster dinner that evening.

I know you're saying by now where are the bird pictures. Here they come. Common Eiders were everywhere along the coastline. 

Another very common bird was the Black Guillemots. Some were still in their black summer plumage while others have already changed into the speckled winter plumage.

Winter Plumaged Black Guillemot

Quoddy Head Lighthouse is the most eastern point in the United States and is another favorite lighthouse of ours. Not only is it an appealing lighthouse at a great location, just east of here you can see Grand Manan Island which belongs to New Brunswick, Canada, but it also offers great birding. Black Guillemots, Northern Gannets, Red-necked Phalaropes all flying around the water but also in the boreal forests you get Golden-crowned Kinglets and Brown Creepers nesting.
Quoddy Head Lighthouse - Eastern most point in USA
Great view with Grand Manan Island in the background

But best of all you are able to find Spruce Grouse just by walking the trails and they aren't afraid of people at all. We saw four of them sitting up in the spruce trees just above eye level and about eight feet away.

From here we headed over the bridge to New Brunswick, Canada. We stopped to visit the Franklin Roosevelt home on Campobello Island. He would spend two and a half months here each year during the summer months. We actually had reservations for tea and cookies with Eleanor Roosevelt who gave us an hour long story about her experiences as first lady.

Campobello Island Home

Afterwards we continued north to the end of the island to visit another lighthouse. At this point I was scanning the ocean for birds, seeing lots of Common Terns and Bonaparte's Gulls when a dark bird flew past with long pointed wings. Getting the scope on the bird it turned at to be a Sooty Shearwater. Scanning some more produced about 200 more, plus another 200 Manx Shearwaters and a Great Shearwater. Looking at the birds sitting on the rocks near the lighthouse I noticed a large number of Herring Gulls and other gulls, but they didn't look right for Bonaparte's. A closer look revealed their true identity. Sitting on the rocks were about 150 Black-legged Kittiwakes, Awesome!

East Quoddy Head Light

Kittiwakes among Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls

Well, since I'm getting tired of typing I will end with a photo of a bird we found the next morning in Moosehorn NWR near Calais, Maine. Thanks for putting up with such a long blog.

Ruffed Grouse

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