The blueberry barrens of Columbia, Maine stretch out far and wide, and cover the land like a carpet. The area hosts a variety of inland bird species such as the Upland Sandpiper and Vesper Sparrow. The land is now owned by Wyman’s, and is anything but barren. According to the company website, the blueberry fields have been here for 10,000 years and, by definition, were not planted by man.
Our group travels up the northern coast of Maine, all the way to the Canadian Border, to search for birds. The blueberry fields reveal their colors.
Before we arrive in Machias, we catch long glimpses of the Upland Sandpiper – sitting pretty on a boulder.
Scott finds the native Dog Bane Beetle, which feeds exclusively on the Dog Bane plant that dots the landscape. It’s the most colorful beetle I have ever seen.
Once we arrive at our hotel in Machias, there is a river leading to the ocean. We spot many Bald Eagles right from our hotel. In northern Maine, Bald Eagles are everywhere. By the end of the 20th Century, they were on the brink of extinction. These sightings are the result of a long and successful recovery effort and the hard work of many committed conservationists. Today, the Bald Eagle is an environmental success story.
We see and hear many warblers, purple finches and shore birds such as the Short-billed Dowitcher. The complex song of the Hermit Thrush is music to my ears. Their song is more moving than a symphony.
Below, we come across several Great-spangled Fritillary Butterflies.
We then head up to the Bold Coast. “You will know it when you see it,” Scott tells us.
According to Maine.gov, the movement of glaciers and massive ice sheets began 2.5 million years ago and formed the landscape of coastal and mountainous areas in the state of Maine.
The Bold Coast region features a wide array of ecosystems, including maritime bogs, spruce-fir forests, tall grass meadow and rocky headlands, all within 20 miles of each other.
We visit several bog and wetland areas, discovering beauties such as this Ebony Jewel-wing Damselfly. Damselflies differ from Dragonflies in that their bodies are smaller and thinner, their wings are attached at one spot and their heads are dainty. These little ones shine with iridescent turquoise, and are more valuable than precious gems.
Frog in a Bog
We come across a female green frog in a boggy wetland area. As our trip leader points out, you can tell a female by the small, round disc next to the eye, whereas the male has a disc that is larger than its eye.
The disc on the male frog is 2-3 times larger than his eye.
Quoddy Head Lighthouse
Birding at the lighthouse, overlooking the atlantic and the Gulf of Maine.
Shorebirds feed on mudflats like this one behind our hotel. Mud art created by the tides.
On our boat trip to Petit Manan Island, we come across Harbor seals lounging on rocks.
As we arrive at the island, we observe many different species of sea bird and ocean duck, including the iconic Puffin, which flies in and around our boat.
This Razorbill is splashing and preening itself in front of our boat. It is great to catch an up-close view of this diving bird. The black eye on black body is difficult to see. But if you zoom in, you can see its razor-like bill. The Razorbill, like the Puffin and the Guillemot, is a member of the Auk family.
We are lucky to spot some Oystercatchers flying over the boat. They fly back and forth a few times before taking off.
On arrival back at the dock, I watch a man hauling fresh clams up from the tidal pools. He says his name is Ron, and that he gets around $200 for two hours of clamming from an industry distributor. This is Ron and his catch for the day.
The clams look so fresh and tasty, we wanted to steam them right then and there.
On the way home, I find this Painted Skimmer dragonfly and Bill helps me ID it.
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