Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 27-29: Weekend at Claybrook Mountain Lodge

Visited the mountains of western Maine for a three-day birding weekend guided by my friend Derek of Freeport Wild Bird Supply, and based at Claybrook Mountain Lodge. The Lodge, in Highland Plantation, is owned by dear friends Greg and Pat Drummond, and Greg also helped guide us around the area.

We visited quaking bogs, beaver ponds, the shores of Flagstaff Lake, meadows full of wildflowers, and wooded trails throughout the area, often with the dramatic Bigelow Mountains looming in the background. In addition to the Lodge's rustic charm and comfort, Pat's excellent cooking, Greg's storytelling, and the beautiful natural setting on a perfect Maine summer weekend, the group enjoyed many excellent birding adventures.

Our first evening as we sat on the porch of the Lodge, we were serenaded by tree frogs and peepers. We walked down the road at dusk, and Derek tried calling in a Barred Owl. As it grew darker, more and more fireflies flashed in the fields.

Highlights: Swainson's Thrush and Veery singing into dusk, sapsucker couple tending nestlings at a nest hole, night sky teeming with stars.

Last sunlight lingers
up on the mountain ridge.
Tree frogs begin to sing.

While waiting for owls,
I catch fireflies.
Stars too blink on.

Firefly blinking
on my bedroom window sill--
perfect night light.

Saturday we visited several bogs, drove dirt roads, wandered bug- and warbler-filled woods trails to beaver ponds, and ate lunch at a private beach on Flagstaff Lake where I got in my first swim of summer. At dusk, we paused near several fields hoping to hear a Whip-poor-will.

Highlights: Bluebird family at the Lodge, Snowshoe Hares, bog flora, bitterns, whinnying snipe, a single Palm Warbler, White Admiral butterflies everywhere, a very aggressive baby Garter Snake, bird accidentally flushed from a ground nest while I was trying to photograph a patch of Twinflower, several dainty does, more sapsucker nest holes full of whining nestlings, Common Merganser carrying her chicks on her back across the lake, dozens of roadside moose and deer tracks, Hooded Merganser hen with chicks on a glassy pond at sunset, spectacular firefly light show, a single bat.

Patch of pitcher plants--
red-veined cups of rain
offered up to the morning.

Baby garter snake
strikes without hesitation
Greg's much larger hand.

Sorry, mother bird.
I didn't know those flowers
were hiding your nest.

Such a hot day
the underwear I swam in
dries under my clothes.

Instead of Whip-poor-wills--
baying hound dog,
campers' fireworks.

This morning, we visited several regenerating clear cuts in our quest for a Mourning Warbler and explored the ferny, wooded trails around the Lodge. Our birding adventure finished up with a visit to Gilman Pond and some nearby farm fields and wetlands in North New Portland, where we flushed a bittern and a family of snipes.

Highlights: Mourning Warbler at last (warbler species #19 for the trip), telephone pole chewed thin by bears, a sweep of Maine's frog species, vocal baby snipes!

Sun-warmed wild berries
picked along the trail--
sweetness with a little grit.

On the mountainside
patch of clear cut forest
a different shade of green.

Flushed bittern--
we watch it flap out of sight
slowly over the marsh.


  1. Beautiful poetry for a beautiful place! I love your mix of photos, prose and verse. It must have been an inspiring long weekend.

  2. Love this poem - put me right there, though I've never visited. Just wonderful.