Friday, September 22, 2017

Monarch in Maine

Female Monarch Butterfly

I saw this little lady (yes, a lady for sure!) on Macworth Island about a week ago. Because I am blessed with the kind of friends who not just notice things like butterflies, but stop and photograph them, I am starting to wonder if monarchs are making a comeback? I have seen a few more this year than last IRL, but I have seen many more on social media. In addition, my brother, who lives near a wooded area and has a large patch of milkweed on his property, says he and his wife & their little sons have seen chrysalises everywhere.

We so rarely get anything like good environmental news. The globe continues to warm, idiots continue to pretend it isn't, pesticides and habitat loss and even devices like hydro dams, which are meant to do less harm by replacing coal burning electrical generation, all contribute to species loss. Maybe, just maybe we are not going to lose this beloved beauty.

Male Monarch butterfly
I know this butterfly is a female, because the males have oval shaped black dot on their inner wings. Here's one a friend posted:

Yes, that's a marijuana plant it has landed on. Legal in Maine!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Moxie Falls, Moxie Gore Township

The trouble with photographing waterfalls is that you can't really get a sense of the scale of the thing. Rocks can be any size. Trees and branches have a pretty broad range, too. In this photo, the tiny little people to the top right of the falls are key to get an idea of the immensity of the drop.
Moxie Falls, in the township of Moxie Gore, plummets an incredible 90+ feet. That's three times the height of my house. The pool at the bottom of the falls is nearly 17 feet deep but I wouldn't recommend a dive.

If you aren't from Maine, you probably think of the word moxie as a anachronistic synonym for spunk or courage. This comes from the soft drink made in Maine, which in turn took its name from a patent medicine which claimed to build up one's nerve. This was before the FDA was created, when companies could make all the unfounded medical claims they wanted! But hey, how about that Big Government tyranny, amirite?

But I digress.

In Maine, the name Moxie is associated with a stretch of water feeding into the Kennebec River - Moxie Pond, Moxie Stream, Moxie Falls. It seems to derive from an Abenaki word meaning "dark water." The soft drink takes its name from the region, and adjective comes from the soft drink.

The trail leading into the falls is a relatively easy hike. It's wide and flat most of the way, but does include some steep staircases as you approach the falls. There are wooden viewing decks from which the view is maintained by Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands - they trim back branches and brush to keep it clear. By which I mean, don't crawl out on the ledge trying to get a better view!

A Maine man, Garth Coon, was killed 2005 when his companion, who had been swimming in a pool
near the top of the falls got swept away by the current. He tried to save her, but they were both pulled over. Though badly injured, she lived; sadly, he did not. 

There is a much, much safer swimming hole upstream, within the series of small drops known as Junior Falls. The day we were there a youth group was enjoying it, splashing around, sitting on the natural bench the ledge makes just under the falls. 

This pool is also pretty deep - people were doing cannonballs from a low ledge on the far side. It's a fast-running stream pretty deep in the woods - the water is clean and clear. The hike, while not arduous, is sort of a self-selecting mechanism; most people who are willing to walk that far into the woods to take a swim are also the sort who wouldn't leave beer cans and other trash around. 

It's a pretty drive to Moxie Gore, and the area gets a goodly lot of visitors to hunt, fish, canoe, and tube. (Bullfrog Adventures will take you on a gorgeous, safe, and surprisingly cheap tubing trip.) As a result there are several little restaurants and brew pubs on 201 for you to grab a bite & a pint on the way home. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Batty McFly

For the third time this month we've entertained a bat visitor, in our living space. We're not sure how they are getting in, but it's an old house and most likely they are living in the attic and squeezing through some tiny hole into the living room. I like bats. I think they are cute - look at Batty McFly's hilariously fierce little face! In actuality he is not trying to intimidate, he was making those echolocation squeaks that bats use to get around.

I did a little reading and discovered that McFly is probably a Big Brown Bat, as opposed to a Little Brown Bat. "Big" is a relative term, and he (she?) was not at all a large animal. Both kinds are found in Maine. Big Brown Bats have longer fur and are more likely to be living in barns and attics.
Big Brown Bats are born in June, and the ones we are finding may well be the young of year, attempting to venture outside for the first time. Bad luck for them that they find themselves in the House of Many Cats, although none has been killed yet.
I captured McFly (and our earlier visitors) by putting on my work gloves ( I doubt they would bite but why take the chance?) and placing a wastepaper basket over them, then closing up the end with a bit of cardboard, and bring the lot outside. McFly seems tuckered out, because he didn't fly away right off the...bat, but hung out πŸ˜„for a while - long enough for me to snap this photo.

Like Little Brown Bats, Big Brown Bats can be infected with White Nose Syndrome, although their populations are not crashing like their smaller cousins.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Loon Chicks, Toddy Pond

Totes adorable, right? I snagged the photos from Avian Haven's Facebook page.
Avian Haven is a bird rescue and rehabilitation organization in Freedom, Maine. They have extensive facilities, including compounds for owls, other raptors, and aquatic birds, including a dedicated indoor pool for loon rehabilitation.

Though these guys were born on Toddy Pond, their next stop is the ocean, as loons typically spend their first two years as marine birds, before returning to their fresh water origin point to nest and raise chicks of their own.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Upta Camp: Welcome to the Wigwams

Nothing is more relaxing than a weekend upta camp. We've just come back from The Wigwams, a camp belonging to the Downeast Salmon Federation.

Located on Lower Wigwam Falls (hence the name) on the Machias River, the Wigwams is as close as you'll get to glamping anywhere Downeast. It boasts a gas stove & lights, and a screened porch where you can sit in comfort and watch the river go by.

Though quite out of the way - one rives through miles of blueberry barrens to reach it - the Wigwams is accessible by truck. (I wouldn't try that road in any vehicle without a pretty high undercarriage.) Just below the falls is fat water - you can put in a canoe & paddle downriver and then easily back upriver.

It's a 3-season camp, as it has a wood furnace for comfy nights even in cool weather.

Though the Wigwams was originally a salmon camp, located where the Passamaquoddy had historically place a dwelling to take advantage of the fine salmon fishing, there are, sadly, very few salmon in the Machias River these days. The Downeast Salmon Federation is working on that!

If you'd like to stay in the Wigwams, you can do so for a small donation to DSF, who also owns two other cabins in the region. Those are more rustic, and I haven't been there yet. Wigwams, though? Fantastic. Rustic, peaceful, but easy and clean and convenient. Camping for people who aren't into camping. πŸ™‚