Sunday, June 26, 2011

Follow Along with us Today

Today is a continuation of yesterday.  We didn't get finished because of a downpour.  This is when we check water levels on the impoundments, record what wildlife we see, and get numbers from trail counters to figure our visitation.

On the left is the gauge and on the right is the counter.
We have about 35 water impoundments we read and 7 trail counters at various places on the refuge.             

This is a branch from a Tamarack tree.  I mentioned this tree earlier as the lumber we used to make the sawhorses.  The leaves are in clusters of 8 or more.  The cones are small, about 3/4 inches long, light         brown, and borne erect on stout stems.                     

As we rounded a corner, we came upon a bear that       took off as soon as he saw us.  We didn't get a good picture of it, but we got out of the truck to check out his tracks.  You can at least see where his nails dug in as he ran off.                                                          
This is my picture of a Cedar Waxwing.  They love berries from the Serviceberry Tree (you can see the berries in the background).  The seeds can be eaten by humans too.  We have a huge one at headquarters.

 I promised a better picture of the little British Soldiers (lichen) and here it is.  Lichens look much brighter       after a rain.                                                                                                              

This is a picture of Candy Lichen.  It looks like bubble gum.  They, as well as the British Soldiers, are very small.  I told you, I like lichen!!!

These are 8 by 10 interp panels we place around our trails.  We just got a shipment of l8 of these for one of our new trails (Charlotte Trail).  Bill, our project leader asked me to find a place for them.  Alrighty then.  We had some extra time this afternoon, so we took some flags out on the trail to mark them where each one should go because the YCC kids will be digging holes and putting the posts in the ground at the correct spot.
That is where I found this little gem of a flower, new to me.  That makes it exciting...discovery!!

This is a Nodding Trillium.  When I saw the leaf, I immediately knew that flower was hiding underneath.  Wonderful things can be found when we go a step further.  My flower book is getting filled with all my discoveries.  I date it just as I do my bird book.

So I will leave you as I nod off.  See ya later.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Another Day, Another Dollar.

This was our work assignment this morning and you will soon see why.  We needed to make two sawhorses.  This kind you can take apart to transport.
Wallace is not a carpenter BUT this refuge is teaching him alot and he really enjoys doing things like this.  That is one of the big reasons we keep coming back here...there is variety in what we do.

We have quite a bit of damage from beaver activity and winter snow melt.  This is one of the roads that washed away this winter.  We don't want any of our new interns, skep, or fca young people driving over the edge...yikes!  The sawhorses are made from the Tamarack trees that were taken down on the refuge.  Tamarack (larch) is our only native conifer that looses its leaves every fall.  It is a hard, heavy and strong wood.


How about this orchid?  This one we keep a secret as to its location.  It is Lady's Slipper of the Queen.        There are 14 blossoms in this bunch.  Isn't it beautiful? They live in fens, swamps, moist meadows, and woods.  The flower is about 2" in size.  It makes my day when I see a flower as pretty as this.

We had our first handful of native strawberries today.
A tasty treat I must say.

When we returned to headquarters, we had a package from Ottawa NWR.  What a surprise.  A shirt with a very nice note from Rebecca Hinkle, and two $50.00 gift certificates.  They treated us so nice and gave so much...this was an added surprise we were not expecting!!


Dang, I should have applied some make-up.                                                                                                                                          


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keeping it short today

I am trying a new font size now.  I apologize for the script moving all over the place!!  Still can't figure that one out.  This is a work in progress.  Sometimes I spend up to 3 hours working on it, moving pictures just right, getting the wording to connect (or trying to), etc.

Today, Wallace replaced the toilet seal.  Voila, no more leak!!  He cleaned out the hot water heater, and replaced the rubber gasket around one of the baggage compartments.  Another "fix it day".

Tomorrow, we go back to work.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bangor Bog Blog

We needed to take a trip to Bangor, Maine today.  This was our first time to the Bangor City Forest & Orono Boardwalk located north of town.  We highly recommend this little area.  The 616 acre Orono Bog is a wetland.  The plants you see here can tolerate wet soil.  This wetland is also called a peatland because of its deep layer of peat.  The peat is 25 feet deep in some parts of  the bog.                                                                                                                                                                                   
As we got out of the truck, we heard a familiar sound of a Mourning Dove.  This one was busy gathering seed.  It's nice to hear familiar sounds.  In south Texas, we don't get to hear warblers as they are busy feeding and not         nesting in our neck of the woods.     Every year, I have to learn all over again.  I'm still learning them.  One thing I learned about doves is they don't drink water like other birds.   They suck water up much like through a straw.  Watch them next time when they come by for a drink.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

This is one of the dragonflies I have been wanting to find.  This is a         Twelve-spotted Skimmer.  Count      the number of black spots on the       wings.  This one likes to be around water.  It is perched upon a lichen named British Soldiers.  As you can see, I have taken a liken to lichen.  It is hard to see in this picture, but they       have a red top.  I will get a better         picture of this one later.                     
This butterfly is a White Admiral.  It is perched on Ostrich Fern.  I learned       about a new fern today, Royal Fern.     This is one we don't have in our neck    of the woods.                                                                               
                                                                    This is a Magnolia Warbler.  He     finally stopped long enough for this picture.  We had many of these        warblers the month of May while we were in Ohio volunteering at Ottawa NWR.  If you have never been to        Magee Marsh, you are missing         something amazing.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
This little  chipmunk had his little jowels full as he scampered across the forest floor.

Who is THAT?  This is what the boardwalk looks like.  Now where is that darn Sundew?  We finally found it, at number 82.  It is so tiny, it is overlooked.  This plant is also carnivorous like the Pitcher Plant.                                                                                                                                 

As you can see, it is happy living on sphagnum moss in a wet area.  It uses its sticky hairs to entrap insects.                                                                           

This plant is Bog Rosemary.

I couldn't resist another picture of the Pitcher Plant.  Have you ever looked inside?

This is a Balsam Fir.  The kind that is usually picked for our Christmas tree.  Like all true firs, balsam fir cones point upward.

I saved the best 'til last.  The only orchid...Grass Pink.  Much prettier in person!!
Wish you were here to enjoy it with us.  Oh yes, we saw a Moose on our way over to Bangor on Airline.  It almost collided with a car.  It happened too fast for           a picture.                                                                                                                  


Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Annual Fishing Derby

This is the way we started out our day.
The rain did not deter these little ladies.  As the starting horn blew, they were the first ones on the water.  We had a total of 60 children register to fish.  We usually have around 100.  It's a great time for all.  The smile on the faces of the kids who catch their first fish causes us all to smile.  There are prizes, hot dogs, cookies, chips, and drinks all donated by businesses around town.  It's a BIG thing that the children look forward to.  The pond is stocked by Maine Fish and Game. 

This little girl won in her division.  This was her very first fish to catch.  The picture was taken after all the screaming and jumping up and down.  The derby was over at noon and then came the clean up.  After that, we continued with our day.  It was a continuation of yesterday.  Finishing up with trail counters and water level readings.

On our drive at the Edmunds Unit, we happened upon this Snapping Turtle laying eggs.  They come up on the gravel roads to lay their eggs.  She was dropping them as I took pictures.  After the egg dropped, she would use her back leg to put them in position.  The average clutch is 83.  It is one of the largest turtles in North America and they are very aggressive predators.  Snapping turtles have been around for 100 million years.  They can live for 40 years.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's a Good Day Tater.

Back to work, but what a great day.  Today was the day to travel around to collect data from the water impoundments.  We record the water levels and report any wildlife we see, especially waterfowl.  While we are doing that, there are also trail counters we check to make sure they are working as we record number of visitors from those counters.  On one of our stops, we walk on railroad tracks between two bodies of wetlands.  This was the birdiest it has ever been. 

This is a Virginia Rail.  This was a nice looking male.  We always feel so fortunate when we happen on one.  There were two of them hiding in the vegetation.  Every so often, he would step out for a photo.  They are only 9 and a half inches in size. 
This is a Black-billed Cuckoo.  Check out that red eye!!  The length is 12". I got so excited, I could not focus quick enough, but managed to pull this one    off.  They are solitary and feed mainly on caterpillars.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
This is a Yellow Warbler and he is singing his little heart out.  We also had a pair of Orchard Orioles.                       
How about this Ruffed Grouse?  We had three sets with young as we traveled about the refuge.

There is a lot more we could share with you, but it is late.   See ya tomorrow.               

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A walk in the Maine woods

On our last day off this week we decided to hike one of our trails in the Wilderness Area, the trail is the Hanson  Road Trail.  There is about 5000 acres of wilderness in the Baring Unit and about 3000 in the Edmunds Unit.  These areas are managed with a "hands off" philosophy.  No bicycles or anything mechanical are allowed in these areas.  We were on the trail for 3 hours and hiked it to the intersection of the other trail and turned around and hiked it back.

 Some of the flowers from the hike are the beautiful Ladies Slipper.  It is a member of the orchid family.

The one below is a Wild Iris and they are blooming all around the marshes.

We also had Clintonia, and Canadian Mayflower.

Then came the dreaded WASH OUT.  They had a tremendous snow fall this winter with a little beaver activity to boot.  Our trail dropped about  20  feet. 
We just walked down and then up on the other side. 

Now I will introduce you to a couple of new lichens from the walk.  We have Lungwort (which resembles lungs) and Reindeer Lichen.  Lungwort is a favorite food of Moose, and Reindeer Lichen is eaten guessed it...reindeer and caribou.   Lichens take out pollutants from the atmosphere . 
During the 40's and 50's, atmospheric testing of atomic bombs sent out massive doses of radioactive nuclids in the air.  Caribou ingesting the lichen had radioactive material in their bones and tissue. Indigenous people who ate the caribou had a likelihood of bone cancer and leukemia.                    

This is a vernal pool we happened on.
 A vernal pool is a contained depression that holds water from snow and rain.  It does not have fish.  Frogs and salamanders lay their eggs in the water and then leave them.  Also, fairy shrimp are present.  The water can dry up and the fairy shrimp can lie dormant until water comes again.

Wallace made these crude arrows, nothing flashy in the wilderness area, for the hiking society to put up last year and let me tell you they came in handy a few times!  It's pretty easy to lose the trail at times.  We can say, we had a true wilderness experience.

Just before we went out on the trail, we got a phone call from our friends from Utah.  They were on their way to Calais and wanted to come by for a visit.  Of course we went out to eat.  We had a great time catching up on things.

Meet Della Mae and Grant Gense.

 By the way, I almost forgot  the lichen pictures.

Above is Lungwort and to the right is Reindeer Lichen.  It resembles reindeer antlers.  Hope I didn't bore you as it is a long post.  Good night!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The pollen is a fallin'

The last couple of days we have just been resting up trying to get over our allergies or sinus problems.  The pollen has really been bad.  When the wind blows, you can see the yellow cloud coming off the trees!!

We just spent the day with Mark and Teri McClelland, our friends we just met the first of the year while we were working at Santa Ana NWR.  They are volunteering at a state park 3 hours north of here and decided they would come down to spend some time with us.

This picture was taken at Magee Marsh in Ohio where they came by to see us while we were volunteering at Ottawa NWR the month of May.  If you haven't been to Magee Marsh in May you are missing something.  The birding is WONDERFUL.  I am now
spoiled...there is nothing like it.            

They arrived here at Moosehorn at 8:30 am.  We gave them a tour of the refuge, then drove in to Calais for lunch.  We hiked one of our trails before spending the rest of the afternoon chit chatting.  Another great day with nice people.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Enjoying Eastport, Maine

Our day trip was to Eastport, Maine.  It's main street parallels the waterfront.  There is a deep water fishing pier that you can drive out on and watch fishermen as you are scanning for whales.  The only fish that were caught while we were there were Longhorn evil looking but pretty fish.  Great care has to be taken to get them off the hook as there are many sharp spines on the skull.

The city puts on a nice 4th of July fireworks display over the water.  At that time, a U.S. Navy ship is docked at the pier where you can take a tour of it.  The pier is where you can board the Sylvania W. Beal, an 84' two-masted schooner that we boarded for a sail.  On our trip, we sailed past the Old Sow whirlpool that has taken many lives.

A few of the birds we scoped out were:  Common Loon, Common Eider, Common Merganzer, Black Scoter, and Surf Scoter.  This was before we entered town.  They were quite a distance from us but today I have my Cannon 2ti with me.  I have cropped the we shall see what turns up.    


And of course, the Lupines are blooming.  They resemble bluebonnets.  Lupin beans (seeds) are commonly sold in a salty solution in jars and can be eaten with or without the skin.

We stopped at our favorite place to eat for a cup of clam chowder.  The restaurant is named Chowderhouse.

On our way back to Calais, we crossed the 45th parallel.  At this point, standing next to the granite stone, we were half way between the Equator and the North Pole.             

There are a dozen chunks of red granite set on the right side of highway 1 going toward Calais.  They are milestones that were set out around 1870 by a fellow who owned pacing horses which he liked to time as he commuted between Robbinston and Calais.  He tied a rag to one of his carriage wheels, and his farmhand would count the number of times the rag whirled by.  Pike knew the circumference of the wheel, he also knew when a mile had passed.  Each stone had the distance in miles chiseled into its three foot high face.  Fancy mile markers huh.  Are we there yet?