Monday, August 20, 2018

Caesar Pond Prowl

Chilling out at the dock before our boat ride!
 I went for a morning pond prowl with our niece, Nan, who spent the night with us before heading to points south. 
And, what a wonderful morning it was. We began by seeing the great blue heron stalking frogs.
As we watched the heron, a pair of mallards took off for the north end of the pond.
We turned and headed north along the western shore as well. As we motored along, we heard the staccato rattle call of a kingfisher.
These skittish birds drive me nuts as I can rarely get close enough to photograph them. Indeed, this one took off as we got within about 80 feet of it.
It flew from tree to tree toward the north end, and as usual, I couldn't quite get a sharp photo.
One of the best shots came when a second kingfisher got a bit territorial and they flew off across the pond.
We headed toward the one active beaver lodge to see if anyone was home;-)
And then, we went as far north as we could into the boggy part of the pond.
We hung out for a few minutes checking out the old beaver lodge, which is difficult to get the pond prowler close to.
The thought of chocolate chip pancakes, and Nan's nearing departure time for home, had us hightailing it for the dock. But, then Nan heard a loon calling.
Well, we decided that the loon was worth investigating! We got lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time when the loon popped up from a dive. Wow! What a gorgeous bird;-)
I am rarely in position to photograph the red of the loon's eye as I am usually facing into the sun when photographing him. These photos aren't as tack sharp as I would wish, but it was thrilling to be so near (well, we weren't that close as I was using a telephoto lens...)
Laurie, Mom and Dad canoeing on Woodbury Pond many moons ago!
I dedicate this blog post to my dearly departed dad. Today is the 15th anniversary of his death. Each year, I tend to see lots of wildlife on this date. I think he is helping to solidify the mutual bond we have with Mama nature! Cheers, Dad!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Saga of the Hornet Nest

Hornet nest under the deck with a guard hornet in the doorway!
Photo taken with the endoscope as Drew snaked it up under the deck.
"Ouch!", "Nailed again!", "Geez...what the heck?", are all quotes from Drew and I, (and from Lady Flame and Toby if they could speak "Human". Although, Lady Flame was also saying, "I don't want to go out for potty. I can hold it, Dad! I don't want to get stung again!")
We all got stung repeatedly, on and off, for a couple of weeks until Drew found the nest under the deck. These bees seemed smaller than yellowjackets, but they are all in the same family of social wasps (although Drew refers to them as antisocial wasps!"
These darned hornets would zoom out for a quick attack, then retreat. They were protecting all the larvae. You can barely see the grubs hanging down from their cells in the hive. After several sprayings of wasp annihilator poison (I don't know what brand we used, but it had one heck of a forceful stream), the majority of the hornets died.
Drew removed the hive, broke it open, and sprayed the heck out of it again. Overkill? Maybe, but no more hornets from this hive will attack us this summer. In this photo, you can see the grubs on the left. The cells that have woven silk caps contain the more mature grubs, now called pupae, that will hatch out into fully fledged adults (about 30 days after the eggs were laid.) And, you can see tiny eggs in their own cells throughout the hive. 

I found this great little video about Yellowjackets on YouTube. Excellent!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Great Blue Heron on Caesar Pond

This great blue heron and I played tag along the shore of Caesar Pond, today.
I was inspired by her beauty and her ability for a silent take-off from the island she had been standing on.
Her wings were so long and her flying effortless.
I ate 3 Dove chocolates while boating this morning, and the quote inside the first one said, "Keep life moving forward. Looking backward is only for time travelers." And, that is what the great blue heron does. She always looks forward to the next meal.
The next quote said, "We are all stories in the end, just make it a good one." The great blue heron is a bird of Native American symbolism and myth. They are symbols of good luck and patience.
And, the last quote was right on, "Everyone has a happy ending. If you're not happy, it's not the end." So, keep soaring through life and make it the best one you can.

For another interpretation, see my Maine Nature Poetry blog post featuring the blue heron.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hummingbirds and Jewelweed

The ruby throated hummingbirds are chittering and chattering, and zipping around the yard with quite a high level of activity lately. They are currently favoring bee balm and jewelweed for nectar. As I walk around the yard, I get buzzed quite frequently. Crazy!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Clearwing Hummingbird Moths

Yesterday, I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn't seen any hummingbird moths yet.
And, then today there were two of them flitting about amidst the phlox, mostly.
They are so pretty and always appear when the phlox are in full bloom.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Boating with Captain Corey on the Sea Walker

7am in South Freeport Harbor
This summer wouldn't be complete without a morning boat ride, out of South Freeport Harbor with Captain Corey Walker, upon the Sea Walker boat.

Captain Corey, Drew, and Laurie on the Sea Walker
I love boating and Corey's boat is perfect for our needs of wildlife photography.
Sallie enjoyed herself to the max!
We wanted to show Sallie (my Montana buddy) the harbor seals and the general rocky coastline of our part of Maine.
Harbor Seals on an exposed chunk of rock at high tide.
As we motored around the harbor during high tide, we saw what seemed like a knobby rock in the distance. It turned out to be inhabited by a bunch of harbor seals of all shapes, colors, and sizes;-)
An adorable young harbor seal pup.
There were quite a few young seals this time of year. 
Big, well fed harbor seals!
And, there were lots of ginormous adults!
Just lounging around on a lazy Monday morning!
Seals were everywhere on our journey around the islands, and they kept us entertained!
I love this photo of Drew in the morning sun
The morning was cool, calm, and sunny. It was perfect for leaving the harbor and going out around some nearby islands.
Double-crested Cormorant
As we cruised, we saw cormorants everywhere. This one obliged me by skimming the surface of the water. My camera shutter was snapping photos at light speed!
Sallie kept an eagle eye out for ospreys!
As we approached this island, we saw and osprey nest with three ospreys!
Ospreys
The nest was huge and the birds were flying to and from the nest. I think there might have been one young bird still in it!
Bald Eagle
We also saw a bald eagle feeding on a fish.
Iron Island
This island is called Iron Island. Can you guess why? Look at all that red, oxidized rock! It was gorgeous;-)
Menhaden
As we motored further, we saw the surface of the water getting churned up. There were huge schools of menhaden fish everywhere! Corey stopped the boat so that we could see them. Unfortunately, I forgot my polarizing filter for the camera, so you can't see the fish very well, but at least you get an idea of just how many fish there must be here! No wonder the seals are so fat, sassy, and happy!
Sailboats in the Brunswick Harbor
Beyond wildlife, we saw lots of sailboats in different harbors as we cruised through them.
Most of the boats were moored as only the fishermen were up at this time in the morning!
Lots of sailors haul their little row boats with them so they can go ashore after mooring their boats out in the harbor. The piers can only hold so many boats at one time.

We had such a lovely morning on the water for a few carefree hours. Thank you, Corey!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

High Heat Advisory

It is going to be a scorcher on Monday and Tuesday. We are only planning on morning activities here, even when boating. Here is what the weather service has to say about where we are going boating, and I know that it will be even warmer for us in Bowdoin:

Heat Advisory for Coastal Cumberland County, Maine

From 12:00pm EDT, Mon Aug 6 until 7:00pm EDT, Tue Aug 7

Action Recommended: Execute a pre-planned activity identified in the instructions

Issued by: Portland - ME, US, National Weather Service,

...HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON MONDAY TO 7 PM EDT TUESDAY... * Heat Index Values...Up to 101 due to temperatures in the mid to upper 90s, and dewpoints in the upper 60s. * Timing...Monday and Tuesday. * Impacts...The combination of heat and humidity will make it more difficult for the body to naturally cool itself, increasing the risk of heat stress and related conditions. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A Heat Advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. Drink plenty of fluids...stay in an air-conditioned room...stay out of the sun...and check up on relatives and neighbors, especially older adults who live alone, to make sure they are able to stay cool. People who work or exercise outside or in hot environments, and children attending summer camps or outdoor sports practices should take extra precautions. When possible...reschedule strenuous activities to early morning. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. To reduce risk during outdoor work...the occupational safety and health administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency...call 9 1 1  

Friday, August 3, 2018

Puffin Cruise to Eastern Egg Rock

Carla and Sallie get ready to board the boat.
Whoo Hoo! I finally checked off an activity from my Summer Adventure List. 
Neighbor Carla, my friend Sallie (from Montana), and I boarded Cap'n Fish's Audubon Puffin Cruise out of Boothbay Harbor!

We did the Puffin Cruise.
The boat was gorgeous and could accommodate quite a few people.
We stowed our bags under the seat and settled down for a top notch tour.
If the weather turned nasty, there was a nicely air-conditioned lounge area.
Thanks for taking our photo, Carla!
Sallie, Laurie, Carla
We were able to get a spot on the bow of the boat, which gave us an awesome view!
Boothbay Harbor northeast to Eastern Egg Rock.
Here is the route we took to get out to Eastern Egg Rock.
Our view from the bow of the boat!
As we motored through Boothbay Harbor, we saw lots of gorgeous boats.
Burnt Island Light
We also passed by three lighthouse. This is the Burnt Island Light which is the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Maine. It was built in 1821.
Ram Island Light was built in 1883.
Then, we saw Ram Island Light. It marks the eastern entrance to Boothbay Harbor, and the west side of the mouth of the Damariscotta River. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a good photo of the third lighthouse, Pemaquid Point Light.
Soon we were out on the open ocean riding some nice swells.
Carla
There were smiles all around as we navigated the deep blue water of the ocean.
Sallie
Hold on tight, Sallie! The swells were small but the boat did roll a bit making for unsteady footing. I took a lot of photos from a seated position!
Eastern Egg Rock, on the left, in the distance.
What's that I spy in the distance? Could it be a puffin palace?
Eastern Egg Rock
Eastern Egg Rock, here we come!
Everyone crowded the railing to spy the birds
We saw puffins and other pelagic birds as we closed in on the island.

Atlantic Puffins    
My best photo of the day was taken with pure luck as the boat rose up and down over the swells.
A raft of puffins, where one has two fish in her mouth.
There were rafts of puffins floating together.

Two fish in a puffin's bill to be fed to a hungry chick
One of the adult birds had two fish in her mouth as she still has a chick on the island. Puffins lay just one egg each breeding season.
Puffin just beginning to run on the water before flight.
There were puffins in flight, this way and that. Puffins seem to run on water in a effort to take flight.
Puffin picking up speed before lift-off.
It takes a lot of effort to get that 10 inch body airborne.
Lift-off is achieved after lots of running on the water. Wings up, feet spread apart.
Finally, there is lift-off!
Wings can beat 400 times per minute with a forward speed of 48 - 55 mph.
Note the splayed tail feather to assist in lift!
Flying to the island 
Flying to the island to hang out with buddies!
Puffins hang out on the island until the chicks fledge.
Puffins congregate on islands that have lots of rocks that create natural barriers to predators.
A numbered burrow.
The burrows are numbered. The chicks are safe as some burrows might be 8 feet long into the hillside. 
This "robot" was designed by elementary students to help ward off the gulls.
Chicks stay in the burrows until they are ready to fledge. This occurs because of the varied predators of puffin chicks. Predators like Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls abound on the islands. As you can see, this robot is not successful in warding off the predators.
Common Tern and Double-crested Cormorants (I think;-)
There are other birds who call the island home. Here you see what I believe are double-crested cormorants on the rocks and what I believe is a common tern in the air.
Cormorants on Eastern Egg Rock
I enjoyed watching the cormorants hang out to dry their wings between dives into the ocean to catch fish.
Black Guillemot in flight with an unknown piece of "food", probably plastic???
We also saw Black Guillemots diving and flying around the island.
After two circuits of the island, we headed back to Boothbay Harbor. The entire boat ride was 2.5 hours. It was such a pleasant and beautiful day on the water.