Maine: June 10-18, 2011

I landed in Bangor, ME but immediately made a detour on the back roads of Maine to New Hampshire where I spent the night. It rained all day. I got up early in the morning and drove to Mt. Washington where I met a group who drove us up Mt .Washington in a van before it officially opened. That way we were able to loiter in the road and draw out the Bicknell’s Thrush. It was calling but wouldn’t reveal itself at first. So we walked around a bit admiring the view into the valley and the blooming Lady’s Slippers and Bunch Flowers. Finally a male Bicknell’s Thrush flew out into plain view. Everyone saw it very well. It wasn’t raining and it wasn’t too cold for Mt. Washington (the worst weather in the US). After the tour was over I drove back into Maine all the way to Baxter State Park which is magnificent. This huge wilderness area had been donated to the state by former governor Baxter who only stipulated that it remain named after him and remain forever a wilderness. No pets are allowed and there are no amenities or development whatsoever and inside the park lies the highest point in Maine and the terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Katahdin, at over 5000 feet.

I was the only person camping at Albor Campground. The weather was so miserable I didn’t even bother to put up my tent and just slept in the car which was fine. It was a Dodge Nitro with flat folding seats in the back and I fit nicely back there. In the morning it continued to rain. Mt. Kathadin was beckoning but there was no time. So instead I hiked to a waterfall on the Appalachian Trail. Along the trail I saw Least Flycatcher, American Redstart, Black-and-white Warbler, and Swainson’s Thrush. Later I went to the Sandy Pond which was very crowded even though it continued to rain the entire day. There were a few vireos, Black-throated Green Warblers, Northern Parulas, and Chestnut-sided Warblers but the rain made it difficult to see them. There was a moose in the pond at the beginning of my walk. Baxter State Park is a wild and wonderful place. It was a shame it rained the whole time. I reluctantly left and drove to the coast to Machias where I stayed in a hotel on the Machias River for the night.

In the morning I had some time before I needed to leave to catch the boat at Cutler Harbor so I walked down the snowmobile route along the river. It drizzled the whole time and I never heard a single bird until almost back at the beginning and then I saw two Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows. Unfortunately it was time to go. I drove to Cutler Harbor where I met Captain Patterson and the rest of the bunch of us braving the cold and the rain. We got in the boat and Captain Patterson drove us out to Machias Seal Island. Along the way we saw lots of Black Guillemots and one Great Cormorant. As we approached the island, we began to see Common Murres and Atlantic Puffins. As bad as the weather was I thought it was impossible we would actually land but somehow Captain Patterson made two trips in the skiff and got everyone safely on the island. We had to be careful to avoid the eggs laid on the ground by the nesting Arctic Terns. We were each escorted to our blinds where we settled in and got amazing up close looks at the Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills. It was also nice to be out of the rain. After about an hour it was time to head back to shore. It was still drizzling and impossible to stay dry but fortunately Captain Patterson had a covered part of the boat that was heated. I was glad to be back to shore though. Next I drove a long drive down the coast to Acadia National Park. By the time I arrived it was raining steadily. I went through Bar Harbor and just drove straight to the Black Rock Campground and found my spot. Again it was too miserable to set up my tent so I elected to sleep in the car again. It was fine.

In the morning I drove along the park loop road. It was very crowded in the park. I saw a large Box Turtle on the side of the road. I pulled over to get a better look. On the way back to the car I noticed a trail head across the street. I decided to hike it. It went up to the top of Champlain Mountain. The rocks were extremely slippery and I fell twice one time slamming my big toe into a tree. I thought it was broken it hurt so much. About half way up a saw a Ruffed Grouse. Too bad I had left my camera in the car. At the top of the trail the views of the little island surrounding Acadia were inspiring. The trail continued down the back side of Champlain but it was closed due to nesting Peregrine Falcons. So I went back the way I came. There were many people plus dogs! I continued on the park road. I never did see the nesting falcons. I stopped at Sand Beach and walked along the sea cliffs to the end of the trail about two miles away. There were many, many people on the trail. So there was no way I was going to find any Crossbills here. However, the scenery along Maine’s rocky coast was spectacular. When I got back to the car I decided to try to find somewhere less crowded. I drove all the way around Acadia to Jordan Pond but it was packed so I said forget that. I parked just short of my campground and took the trail across the street. I had no idea about it but thought it might be less crowded. It turned out it was an alternative route to Cadillac Mountain, probably the busiest hike there. It was getting late in the day and there were only about ten to fifteen people and only about fourteen dogs. It thinned out as I approached the summit. There was a Brown Thrasher singing away close to the top. After my hike I returned to my campground.

Finally the sun came out the next day! Wow. I headed down to the quiet side of Acadia and hiked a short trail that my bird book said might have nesting White-winged Crossbills in a good cone year. I had no idea how I was supposed to know if there had been a good cone year. I started my walk and almost immediately I saw two White-winged Crossbills! Damn that never happens to me. I got a bonus bird. I only had Bicknell’s Thrush, Atlantic Puffin, and Razorbill on my target list and White-winged Crossbill was a bonus bird. Horrah. There were many Black-throated Green Warblers and Nashville Warbler also. In the harbor there were more Guillemots and some Common Eiders.

The next day it was again sunny. I decided to drive around Shoodic Point since I had found all my target birds. I walked around Frasier Point and saw some more warblers, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Palm Warbler, and Northern Parula. Next I hiked up a trail to Shoodic Point overlook. There weren’t that many birds there and some people came along so I went back to the car. Next I drove to the coast and took a hike inland. There were hundreds of mosquitoes and biting flies so I returned to the parking lot. I took my lunch to the shore and just sat on the rocks enjoying the great view. Then I drove back to Bangor. I went straight to the Bangor City Boardwalk, a highlight of my trip. This 1400 foot long boardwalk goes over a fantastic bog. Right at the beginning was a singing Canada Warbler. There were magnificent flowers blooming and great exhibits explaining everything about the bog. Toward the end of the boardwalk there was a thrush with a worm in its mouth. It seemed out of place but it sure did look like a Wood Thrush. I walked around the City Forest after the bog and saw some Indigo Buntings and some other great birds. Then it was time to head to my hotel and my long trip home the next day.

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