Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30: Wildcat Mountain

Our birding tour continued with a morning visit to Wildcat Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Wildcat ski area faces Mount Washington, and a ride up the gondola to just below the summit can offer a spectacular view of the highest mountain(s) in New England. Fortunately we had clear skies and a warm day for this quest for Boreal Chickadees and other boreal birds. We were even able to see the observatory on the summit of Mount Washington, which had been completely enshrouded by thick clouds on last night's visit, invisible even as we stood near it.

The ski trails were speckled with clusters of white bunchberry flowers. On the observation deck at the summit, we were serenaded by Winter Wrens and thrushes, and later joined by backpackers hiking on the Appalachian Trail, happy to have bagged another peak.

We didn't find the chickadee, but no one complained.

Up the mountainside.
Below my swinging feet,
birds sing in treetops.

Mt. Washington (left) and Mt. Adams, from Wildcat Mt.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29: Mount Washington

After last night's late night at Fenway, I was barely awake early this morning when we embarked on a bird tour to the White Mountains, on a quest for the rare and elusive Bicknell's Thrush. The thrush breeds in dense boreal forest, a very limited habitat due in large part to deforestation of its breeding grounds and its winter home in the Caribbean. Here in northern New England they are limited to just a handful of mountaintop breeding sites, including Katahdin, Mount Washington, and Bigelow Mountain. So not only is the bird scarce, but its preferred habitat of impenetrable spruce thickets--combined with its disinclination to jump up and sing from visible perches--also makes it challenging to see those few that are around to be found.

To help us see the thrush, our guide, Derek Lovitch of Freeport Wild Bird Supply, chartered a private van tour that took us up the Mount Washington Auto Road after-hours, which was a treat in itself. We had the mountain to ourselves for a couple of hours, so we were able to walk up a stretch of the road to look for alpine birds like American Pipit, visit the mist-shrouded windy summit (where we couldn't see any of the buildings), and put in a concerted effort to find Bicknell's Thrushes in the appropriate habitat and elevation.

As the thrush's crazy, flute-like song rose from the wall of flagged and stunted spruces, dramatic clouds shifted and scudded overhead, glowing in the day's last light. A combination of rain and sun produced a fragment of a rainbow, visible touching down on a distant peak. We were ultimately rewarded with good looks at birds flying back and forth across (and at one point on) the road. But even before we saw the bird, my spirits were already high; I was most definitely wide awake, maybe for the first time all day.

A single thrush sings
under scudding sunset clouds.
My heart touches the sky.

Visit Freeport Wild Bird Supply for more information on this and other bird tours.
And/or you can read our guide's blog post about this trip.

Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28: Fenway

Saw the Red Sox win 7-5 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. We left Camden in a cloud of fog and rain, and enjoyed a warm, clear summer evening under the lights in Boston, with great seats right behind home plate.

After the baseball game
fans sing along with buskers
in the T station.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27: Late night in the neighborhood

Drive home late, passing
man walking a dog,
fox dashing into bushes.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26: Rest

Chickadee pauses
in the feeder, not eating.
Rain drips off the eaves.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25: Heat of the moment

Seven vultures ride
thermals rising off the road.
I'm a warm body.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24: Hot

Ah, the sultry days of summer, how I've missed you...

No cicadas here,
just the persistent whine
of neighbor's lawnmower.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23: Sunday morning

I lie in bed late
soothed by passing rainstorm,
lone singing sparrow.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22: Pine woods in summer

Went for a trail run this morning at Fernalds Neck Preserve--the "neck" being a point of land jutting into Megunticook Lake. Clouds hung close, making for a steamy solo outing among the pines. As I hit the trail, Hermit Thrushes were singing around me, along with several different warblers, two species of vireo, and at one point, a Winter Wren. When I got close to a water overlook, a loon called from the lake. Near a wetland, as I splashed through a muddy patch, yellowthroat and Blue Jays. And as I stretched red-faced by the car, run complete, a Bobolink's cascading song spilled over from a nearby field, and a waxwing's high-pitched call pierced the thick air.

Trying to outrun flies
I run from bird to bird
along the soft trail.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21: Summer Solstice

The longest day, and it's been a beautiful one. After work I had a drink with my mom and my godmother, then we moved on to the nearby pizza place to chow down al fresco with my husband and a friend while the big waxing moon rose over Camden harbor. One of those summer evenings when you don't want to go inside.

Voices of children
carry through the neighborhood.
Darkness comes slowly.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20: Evening chorus

Tonight after an event at Cellardoor Winery out in the Lincolnville countryside, the moon was waxing fat and frogs sang just as loudly as two months ago.

Spring peepers singing,
still just as needy for love.
Midsummer's Eve.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19: Office music

Turn off Pandora.
A robin shares his music
all afternoon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18: Burgeoning

Under the raindrops
peonies bow tousled heads,
perfume the cleansed air.

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17: Thunder

Thunderstorm rolled through this afternoon. You could feel the tension in the air before the sky began to rumble, then the release of rain.

Roll up car windows.
Phoebe says its name, frantic,
as thunder rumbles.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 16: Road-kill

Driving on 295 to Portland today for a Sea Dogs game. A good time had by all, and yet...

We didn't talk about
the roadside dead deer
but it haunted me all day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 15: Little Moose Island, Schoodic

Spent the morning on Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park. The tide was low, so we were able to walk over to Little Moose Island on an exposed natural causeway. I was with three botanists, so learned a lot about the plant life: the male Roseroot Sedum has yellow flowers and the female has red; what we call juniper "berries" are actually tiny cones; and Xanthoria lichens do not just grow where rodents have urinated...

Even sea-scoured
bare granite harbors flowers,
blooms of lichen.

Blue Flag & Xanthoria lichen

Bunchberry and gull feather

Cinquefoil? tucked in granite

Roseroot Sedum

Xanthoria lichen rings

Roseroot Sedum and Blue Flags

June 14: Schoodic

Spent the night at the Schoodic Research & Education Center (SERC) to attend an evening presentation by Scott Weidensaul--who's written the best book I've ever read on bird migration, Living on the Wind--and to participate in a program there. Stayed up much too late after the presentation talking with friends.

Up late talking with friends.
By the time I went to bed
the moon had set.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 12: Lilacs

Out of my reach
the highest blossoms
are the only ones not yet brown.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11: Shrew

We came home last night to find a dead rodent deposited in the middle of our front lawn. Perhaps it was meant as a gift to our cat, an indoor cat who tries her best to interact through the window with all the neighborhood cats--as well as birds, bugs, etc.--outside.

We looked it up in our mammal field guide: Short-tailed Shrew. I picked it up by its short tail and gently laid it under the ferns at the edge of the lawn, for it to hopefully be found and carried off in the night. The field guide tells us that this shrew has a poisonous bite, a surprising defense for such a minuscule creature.

Intact but dead shrew--
sacrifice for the cat gods,
those merciless ones?

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10: Mown

I mow the back yard only a few times a season, generally preferring to let the ferns and wildflowers flourish. Yesterday was a mowing day, and at least one creature besides myself seemed grateful for the shorn grass.

While I watch from inside
single crow calmly
picks through mown lawn's stubble.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 9: Pear

Home alone doing the Sunday Times crossword on a grey, chilly morning.

I admire how
a single ripe pear
fills the bright orange bowl.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

June 8: Thinking about a friend who's dying

After the rain stopped
cardinal flew through the yard
and back again.

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 7: Buds

A heavy rain falls
on peony buds closed tight,
unenlightened minds.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6: Craneflies

Came home the other night to find two craneflies mating on the well-lit front door, connected end to end.

Where one cranefly ends,
another begins.
Such perfect union.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 5: Dodging swallowtails

Route 52 was a corridor of butterflies today--all along Megunticook Lake, swallowtails rose up before my car, then fluttered away in my wake. My car felt like a large, unwieldy instrument of destruction around such fragile bits of life.

Between lake, mountain
I try to dodge butterflies
in my monstrous car.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4: Borrowed shirt

His old linen shirt,
shrunk in the wash and now mine--
my possessiveness sparked.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3: Tattoo

In the taco joint
woman with much-tattooed chest
holding her baby.

I'm wondering how she nurses the baby without frightening him.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2: Return of the Red-eyed Vireo

In the neighborhood this morning...

Another hot morning.
Back for the summer,
Vireo sings non-stop.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1: Nest

Helped lead a walk today as part of the Acadia Birding Festival on Mount Desert Island, on the Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park. The short trail passes through stunted boreal spruce and jack pine forest to emerge on the granite shores of the sea. As we scanned the waves, one participant looked down instead... and found the nest of a Song Sparrow tucked in a rose bush, neatly cupping four mottled blue eggs.

Vastness that is sea
alongside these small blue eggs,
singing sparrow.