Monday, May 30, 2011

Double Eagle II Launch Site

We had a sunny morning (I think our first since we’ve been here) and decided to go exploring. The Double Eagle II Launch Site is just down the road from the park.

[The Trans-Atlantic Balloon Site represents the first hot air balloon, Double Eagle II, to travel across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to Miserey, France. A memorial park was established in 1981 at the site 5 miles from Presque Isle. The flight was launched August 11, 1978, and arrived in France on August 17, 1978. The pilots were Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman.]

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Lifer - White-winged Scoter

Even though it’s still raining, we decided to get out this morning for a little birding. There is a lake close called Lake Josephine. We saw quite a few birds including a lifer White-winged Scoter. We also saw Tree, Barn, Cliff, and Bank Swallows, Sora, Wood Duck, Yellow Warbler, Ring-necked Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Redhead, and Common Tern.

Cliff Swallow

Cliff and Tree Swallows

Bank Swallows

We saw this very young moose crossing the road in front of us. He headed out across a potato field.

The Maine State Animal: Moose

Thanks to everyone who is following along with us. Hopefully it will quit raining one of these days and Mark can get more pictures!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge

On June 18th the Aroostook Birding Festival will be held here in Aroostook State Park. The Aroostook Birding Club members handling the events for the festival had a meeting here at the park a couple of nights ago and invited us to join them. Mark had been e-mailing with Bill Sheenan, the President, since before we left Texas about possible birding spots and we finally met Bill at this meeting. Mark mentioned that if he ever wanted someone to go birding with, to give us a call.

So, we were up early this morning (4:45 a.m.!) and heading into Caribou to meet Bill. We followed him out to the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge which is a former Air Force Base.

It was, of course, cloudy, cold and raining.

Our big find of the day was a Boreal Chickadee - a lifer for us. We also saw a Surf Scoter and quite a few Warblers.

We have already seen 68 species since we arrived here at the park. Not bad for 3 days.

The weather was just too wet and dreary for picture taking.

These pictures are from yesterday around the park.

Least Flycatcher


Painted Trillium

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our first day of work

Quiz Question: Can you guess what happens at 3:45 a.m. in Presque Isle, Maine?
Answer below.

Our job duties here are to clean the bath house (there are 5 of them but we only have 2 open because there are only 2 campers in the park right now. That takes 10 minutes at the most. We also sweep the kitchen shelter. That takes about 10 minutes. And we clean up the camp sites when people leave. So far only 1 person has left and they didn’t leave any trash. There are 28 camp sites in the park. The park manager has asked us to wait until about 10:30 or 11:00am to clean the bath houses. That really works out perfect for us because we like to get up early and go hiking or birding and are usually back at the RV by noon.

Since we had plenty of time this morning we decided to conquer the South Peak to North Peak Trail. We have been told that it is very steep and rugged. That certainly wasn’t an exaggeration! We started up the South Peak Trail. It is about 3/4 of a mile and 600 feet straight up. Most of it is on loose rock. At the ridge it’s about 1 mile to the North Peak then about 1 1/4 miles from the North Peak back down to the park. The views are fantastic!

View from the North Peak

Echo Lake from North Peak

Quiz question: Can you guess what happens at 3:45 a.m. in Presque Isle, Maine?

Answer: Daylight

Although Sunrise is officially 4:40 a.m., it is very light at 3:45 a.m.!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lobster Rolls, Fiddleheads and Black Flies

We had been warned from several people about Black Fly season here in Maine. We bought head nets, and some very sophisticated Thermacell insect repellant. We had heard that the flies bite and are very painful. As soon as we got to the park and stepped out of the truck the flies were all over. They are very annoying but so far, they don’t seem to be interested in biting us, just flying into our face, ears, and nose. Of course, our head nets and Thermacell’s were in the RV!

[Black flies: Bites are shallow, and accomplished by first stretching the skin using teeth on the labrum and then abrading it with the maxillae and mandibles, cutting the skin and rupturing its fine capillaries. Feeding is facilitated by a powerful anticoagulant in the flies' saliva].

We spent a couple of hours this morning with the Park Manager as he showed us our job duties.

Then, this evening we went to a wonderful restaurant in Presque Isle called The Governor’s.

Mark tried a lobster roll for the first time. It was really good. I, of course, had fried shrimp.

The lobster is very sweet.

We had been seeing Fiddleheads for sale along the roadway and when we got to the restaurant they had Fiddleheads as a choice of vegetable. We tried them. They were interesting. They sort of smelled like cabbage and broccoli and fresh mowed grass. They tasted a little like broccoli. I didn’t care for them but Mark liked them okay.

[Fiddleheads, also known as fiddlehead ferns, are a springtime delicacy consisting of the tightly coiled unfurled fronds of a new fern, named because of their resemblance to the curled decoration at the end of a stringed instrument].

Fiddleheads - just add vinegar and eat.

Presque Isle is a really nice little town about 5 miles from Aroostook State Park. We’ll have plenty of time to explore the area in the next three months.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We have arrived

After 5 weeks, 4025 total miles (2944 pulling the RV), and (it seems like) six hours of sunshine, we have finally arrived at our destination.

We are at Aroostook State Park near Presque Isle, Maine.

Aroostook State Park bears the distinct honor of being Maine's first state park.

[In 1938, interested citizens of Presque Isle donated 100 acres of land to the State with the hope of creating Maine's first state park. This hope became reality is 1939, with the creation of Aroostook State Park. Subsequent donations increased the park to its present size of over 600 acres. Encompassing Quaggy Jo Mountain and Echo Lake. Rising abruptly from the surrounding farmlands, the most prominent feature of Aroostook State Park is Quaggy Jo Mountain. The underlying limestone formations mark the presence of an ancient sea, and the mountain's outer layer of volcanic rock suggests a later lava flow of an unknown origin. Quaggy Jo is the shortened form of its Indian name "QuaQuaJo". A popular translation for QuaQuaJo is "twin peaked".

The park's natural areas are typical of northern Maine. Its forest consists mainly of a mixture of spruce, fir, beech, and maple along with younger stands of poplar, birch, and other hardwoods. In the park's low swampy areas, dense stands of cedar can be found.

A wide variety of birds and mammals live within the park. While squirrels and chipmunks are most frequently seen, fox, deer, moose and bear also rail the park "home". Birds of all types are found here, too, including hawks, owls and woodpeckers.]

This is our home till Labor Day!
Fill free to send us e-mails or leave a comment and consider becoming a follower.

A big Hi and welcome to Bill and Linda (and Rachel).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Orono Bog Boardwalk

It's a cold (45), wet, windy, and foggy day.

We headed out to a place called The Bangor City Forest and Orono Bog Boardwalk.
The boardwalk is a spectacular 4,200-foot long platform through a raised peat bog.

Orono Bog Boardwalk

Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea)

Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense)

Tall Cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium)

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Almost there!

We drove across northern New Hampshire (all 35 miles of it) and entered into Maine today.

Crossing the White Mountains:

We haven't seen a Moose yet, just lots of signs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


It was raining when we crossed the state line

There were several places we wanted to see today in the Bennington area. Our first stop was the Fish Hatchery.

Built in 1916, it is Vermont's second largest fish culture station. This culture station uses a combination of spring, artesian well, and stream water for raising brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

A couple of years ago they got about 200 eggs that turned out to be albino rainbow trout. They keep these albinos in a separate tank and do not use them to stock with.

Albino Rainbow Trout

After the fish hatchery we went to the Bennington Battle Monument.

Built in the late 1880's, this monument is a dedication to the famous Battle of Bennington that took place during the Revolutionary war in 1777. It was at this location the American colonists maintained a store of weapons and food, which British General Burgoyne knew was critical to capture in order to restock his own troops.

The monument is a 306' stone obelisk that opened to the public in 1891. A guided elevator takes visitors to the observation floor for spectacular views of Historic Bennington and three states.

The windows about 3/4 of the way to the top where as far as we were allowed.

Looking out the window of the Battle Monument.

All around Bennington there are 22 of these decorated Moose. We found several of them. They were interesting.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Out my window

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
Forages mainly while hopping and running on the ground.

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
Active during the day in open woods, brushy areas and around buildings. It hibernates during the winter. Feeds on seeds, bulbs, fruits, nuts, insects, meat, and eggs. Stores its food underground.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Birthday to Mark

Although it rained again during the night, we saw a little blue sky by the time we headed out this morning. Our destination was the Lower Falls here in Letchworth State Park. Both the Upper and Middle Falls were rolling when we saw them yesterday so we expected the Lower Falls to be too. We weren't disappointed!

The park is beautiful. Some of the trees are just now coming out. There are a lot of different greens in the tree color.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

The 10,828-acre Iroquois NWR lies midway between Rochester and Buffalo, New York. The Refuge’s 6,000 acres of wetland host more than 100,000 Canada geese and 20,000 ducks and swans annually. More than 3,000 acres of bottomland hardwood and 1,800 acres of grasslands and shrublands support migratory and resident birds as well as other wildlife.

We decided to take a chance on the weather and drive the 45 minutes to Iroquois NWR this morning. At the visitor center we were told that some of the trails were under water and all the trails were pretty soggy. We had on our waterproof boots so we headed on out to the Kanyoo Nature Trail. We slogged our way through the beginning of the trail but after that it was not bad at all. We were the only ones on the trail. We might have been the only visitors in the whole refuge. We certainly didn’t see anyone else besides the refuge staff.

Kanyoo Nature Trail marsh

Mark on the boardwalk.

It turned out to be a very pretty trail.

Wood Duck

American Redstart

Lots of Fungi in this wet area.

Tree Swallow
Unlike other swallows, Tree Swallows eat many berries, allowing them to survive wintry spells.

Even though it was pretty cold, it never did rain on us. Unfortunately, by the time we started back to the RV the fog had rolled in. Visibility was about 50 yards on the road!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New York

We got an early start this morning for New York. It rained the whole way. We’re staying at Letchworth State Park. The park just opened two days ago and is very soggy. We were told that this is the third wettest Spring in history.

Letchworth State Park is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”. The park is 14,350 acres along the Genesee River. Within the park the Genesee River has three waterfalls, one of which 107 feet high. Some of the cliffs along the river are 600 feet high.

Middle Falls

Grand Canyon of the Eaat

It finally quit raining enough for us to get out for a little while. (Waterfall spray on the right side of the picture)
It's still cold!

Scarlet Tanager
We're seeing some birds but the weather is not all that great for bird watching!