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Monday, June 26, 2006

Mt. Desert Island, part 1, Acadia

After the ABA convention, we went to one of our favorite places in Maine, Mt. Desert Island, renowned for its scenic beauty, especially when its sunny! Trouble was, it was foggy and rainy. We didn't mind, as there's a kind of mystical beauty when the landscape is viewed through the fog.

Acadia National Park, the green area on the map, covers much of the island. We took the loop road (outlined in red on the map) through Acadia and stopped at the scenic overlooks and other pull-out areas to listen and look for birds. Given the bad weather, I set a goal to photograph at least one bird.

This Herring Gull sat on a "scenic overlook" ("overlook" is right, it was so foggy you couldn't look at the scenery). It undoubtedly hung out there trying to score munchies from the tourists. It seemed unusually interested when I reached in my pocket (for a kleenex), but sidled away when it saw the camera. Gulls have an uncanny sense of when you are trying to photograph them and can become uneasy.

Lupines were everywhere, their vibrant blue enhanced in the soft light.

The next overlook we stopped at had beautiful crashing waves that sprayed the surf into the air. We inhaled the salty, pungent, smell of the sea air. Two dots beyond the rocks are Common Eiders who never seem to get swept into the rocks.

I had hoped to photograph Peregrine Falcons. Peregrines have nested in the park on Champlain Mt. since 1991 and had just fledged young from their nest which usually can be seen from the Precipice Trailhead parking lot. My heart sank when I saw everything was fogged in, diminishing my chances. We stood by the roadside and enjoyed the songs of the Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warblers and Common Yellowthroats, which carried beautifully in the acoustics of the cool, still air. All of a sudden, I heard a loud noise that sounded like a scratchy car alarm going off — Peregrines coming in low, under the cloud ceiling! I looked and saw a fledgling fly near an adult then veer off. Then the adult came closer. Photographing a dark flying bird against a white sky is a bad idea, so I grabbed my camera and shot. I just can't help myself.

The interesting thing about this photo is that it shows a silhouette of a Peregrine Falcon in fog. The falcon shape, of pointed wings, really stands out. For us, it's a great ID clue, for birds its the warning shape of a predator.

After all that activity, we headed to one of our favorite places in the park, Jordan Pond Restaurant.

We warmed up with hot tea, savory bowls of lobster stew and their famous popovers, yum!

The view from the lawn of the restaurant is of Jordan Pond and "The Bubbles", two distinct mountains rounded by the glaciers that covered this area 10,000 years ago. More on Mt. Desert tomorrow.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006

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