Sunday, June 25, 2006

Thursday's Maine Adventure

Enjoying the king eider in Acadia NP.

Howdy friends! So sorry for the blackout here at BOTB. I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest at the ABA conference. And a bit more tired than usual. But I feel the need to share some of the adventures from my Maine journey, so here goes.

I am once again in the Detroit airport, having missed another flight (we were late leaving Bangor this morning). But that's OK, I feel so at home here, somehow. Can't wait to get back to the farm and family this evening.

After arriving in Bangor at 3 am on Thursday morning, I showered and made my way to the loading zone for my field trip, which left at 4:30. Greeted a bunch of bleary-eyed friends and told my tale of travel woe a few times, them it was time to help people see birds. Our trip was to Acadia National Park and we had several good leaders on our bus. I was added on as a helper, but since my pal Jeff Gordon was one of the leaders, I knew we were in good hands. We went immediately to see the king eider--a male along the causeway onto Mount Dessert (not Desert) Island. The waters around the causeway were full of common eiders, but it was not long before one of our local Maine guides found the king. We all got great looks at it--and I got a few documentary pix.
Male common eider on Mt. Dessert Island.

Jeff Gordon as Ewell Gibbons. "Many parts of this rocky Maine beach are edible! Take this seaweed for eample!"

Then we walked up the road to the restrooms (a birding trip must) and a bit of easy birding along the forested road. We had several northern parulas, a black-throated green warbler and distant looks at black guillemot and black scoter.
Squnit really hard and see the black guillemot in this award-winning photo.

Cropped and fuzzy, but undeniably a northern parula.

This male black-throated green warbler was singing with his beak full. Is that polite?

The beauty of the Maine coast never ceases to astonish me. It's so ruggedly charming. Plus there's lots of lobster to eat. I spent about 15 minutes walking by myself along the rocky shore, breathing deeply and trying to soak in as much of the moment as I could. It felt good to be there, in spite of my long journey of the night before.
I just wanted to take all of these rocks home.

Soon we were back on the bus to head inland for a stop at Wonderland. I was excited to finally meet Alice and perhaps the hookah-smoking caterpillar, but no such luck. We did however see some other birds of the northern woods, including purple finch, both kinglets, red-breasted nuthatch, magnolia warbler, and so on.
John Mayer's voice was running through my head "You birding in a WON-dah-land!" That and "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane.

Pete Dunne was along (and his wife, Linda, too) and was quite happy to demonstrate his pishing technique for our group of 40 birders. Pete has a new book out on the subject of pishing (published by Stackpole), so we kidded him that every pish and squeak was a not-so-subtle reminder to everyone to buy his new book. Of course his OTHER book is the impressively large and extensive Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion (published by Houghton Mifflin). This one was harder to work into in-the-field conversations, but he did share a few of his Dunne-isms--the alternative names he's given for every North American bird: swarm warbler for yellow-rumped, flash-dancer for American redstart, etc. Clever man, that Mr. Dunne. He and Linda are off on another birding/writing/traveling adventure soon, which sounds like a dream trip.
Male swarm warbler in full swarm.

The birding the rest of the day was a tad slow--though we made the most of it: Philly vireo and chestnut-sided warbler at one stop. A peregrine fledgling on a precipice (spotted by the always-observant David Bird--BWD's behavior columnist). Message to David: I remembered the joke thanks to Julie and I'll tell it to you next time we meet. It involves a small businessman and his two employees Jack and Kay, and it's too awful to share here...

We ended the day with a decent bird total and happy birders on the bus. I was catatonic from lack of sleep, so I nodded out on the trip home. This seemed to be just enough recharging of my batteries to give me a second wind. For there was karaoke koming in the night, with the usual suspects. More on that in the next post.

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