Moose Sighting!

In the early days of running Poland Spring Campground, before it got too busy, we used to see a moose run through the 20’s (campsites) every spring and then again in the fall.  Once, it even stopped to look in a camper’s trailer window! Imagine her surprise to wake up and find a moose looking in at her!

But I wasn’t into photography then. So I don’t have any photos to show you.  I do remember it being an amazing sight, as I’d never seen a moose in the wild before. They were tall and fast and solid!

But this summer, the first summer without the campground, I knew I needed to find a moose to photograph.  Lucky for me, I have an Aunt with a camp on Ragged Lake in T2R13.  Territory 2, Region 13.

It’s up in Northern Maine, off logging roads deep in the woods.  What better place to find my next wildlife subject? I dreamed of kayaking and coming across a moose foraging on the edge of the lake. He’d dunk his head in the water and then lift it out, water dripping, water lilies hanging off his antlers. Oh the pictures I’d get!

Unfortunately, the days Dave and I picked to visit had a threat of thunderstorms, and were cloudy and rainy. The first afternoon, we took in the views.

Spencer Mountain, as seen from my Aunt’s dock. A most amazing sight!

The next morning, instead of kayaking like I hoped, my Aunt drove Dave and I up and down the logging roads, including the Golden Road, stopping at every bog and stream along the way. It was so interesting!  At every turn, I hoped . . . .

After 2 hours, I thought we were going to miss out. Perhaps it was too cloudy.  Too humid. Wrong timing.

But then, on the last leg of the loop back to camp, David said from the back seat, “There!”

(And this is where I remind my readers, I have a very powerful camera lens, I’m not as close as this pictures appear)

I got out of the car, quietly focusing, but keeping the car door open. Just in case.

He was gorgeous! Foraging in the swamp, he kept one eye on me, but he didn’t stop eating.

I snapped tons of photos, one after the other.  Of the six hundred I took, these are the best.  And this is my favorite . . .

Doesn’t it look like he’s smiling at me?

Late afternoon, back at camp, the sky cleared a little. Enough for my Aunt and I to get in the kayaks for a short trek.

We got a little wet when the rains started to roll in, but we didn’t care.

As the sun set that night,

We made a pact to get up early the next morning, as it was supposed to clear up and be beautiful. Dave and I needed to leave by noon-ish the next day, but that would give the three of us plenty of time to paddle to my Aunt’s favorite cove.

The day dawned bright and sunny. We could see Spencer Mountain clearly.

I saw eaglets and loons in the distance, but alas, no moose were seen that day. But wow! What a gorgeous and interesting kayak ride that day!

I didn’t want to come in . . .

But somebody reminded me that there were places to explore on the way home, too.

Until next year, Ragged Lake and Spencer Mountain!  I can’t wait to visit you again, Aunt Ginger! This was surely one of the highlights of Summer 2018 <3

Posted in Hiking/Kayaking, Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Ashley: A Media Sensation

After my Maine Author Day booth at the Maine Wildlife Park was packed up last Saturday, I couldn’t resist going behind the scenes with a photographer pass to see this little media sensation up close and personal. Meet Ashley (park name for her), the orphaned moose whose adorable video went viral last month.

A huge shout out to Curt Johnson, who patiently answered all my questions about Ashley and how she came to be there, in spite of it being a busy time at the park for a photographer pass.

Ashley is doing well. Please know though, that raising a moose calf isn’t easy, as they have very specific dietary needs. Getting her through the summer is their main goal right now. What was most fun to watch, was her interaction with the fawns in the pen behind her. Curt tells me they are great friends!

Sadly, I’d forgotten my short lens, and had to make due with the 500mm in a small space. But I’m hoping to get back there to try again. And oh, what a hardship that would be . . . she’s just so darn precious!

Posted in Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Ashley: A Media Sensation

Northern Flicker Sighting

Look who came to visit me yesterday, a Northern Flicker! Another of my favorite birds. I was surprised to see him spending a lot of time on the ground on the lawn, and at first I thought there was something wrong.

I just love the red heart-shaped patch on the back of his head.

Back at our house in the campground in Poland, I only saw them on the feeder in the winter. After looking at the photos I took, and reading more about him online, I realized one of their food sources is ants underground, and they’ll peck away at the ground much like other woodpeckers peck at trees.

It didn’t take long before this one heard the click, click, click of the camera all the way across the lawn from my porch. It sat still for at least five minutes.

Then suddenly, it stretched its wings .  . .

showing the yellow underside of their wings. So beautiful!

It scratched a little itch.

Puffed up a bit . . .

and then it was gone.

It was such a cool, unexpected sighting!  I hope he comes by again soon.

 

 

Posted in Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , | Comments Off on Northern Flicker Sighting

Cormorant Sighting

A couple weeks ago, I noticed this Cormorant perched on a branch to dry its wings. Look at its webbed feet ~ perching like that can’t be easy!

I always thought Cormorants were more or less identical to loons in their behavior. They swim like a loon, can dive for long periods of time, will dive 100 feet for a fish and are seen on lakes and the ocean. But where a loon typically nests on the very edge of a lake (because they can’t walk on land very well), a cormorant will nest in trees that are near or over water, on islands, or on sea cliffs. I’ve now put a nesting Cormorant on my photography bucket list!

Posted in Hiking/Kayaking, Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Cormorant Sighting

June’s Wildlife Sightings

June has been a very exciting month for wildlife watching! I couldn’t resist showing you some of the sightings over the past few weeks.

I’m so in love with our new location. There’s so much to see, so many animals to watch and learn from!

 

Now that we’re on the verge of summer, I’m out on the lake more and more.  I’ve learned there’s three beaver huts . . . and at least one is occupied.

Beaver sighting

Because I received a warning, not once, not twice, but three times!

A beaver tail splash!

Many mornings I see a cormorant diving for breakfast, so I knew it liked to frequent the lake. But imagine my surprise to come upon it hanging its wings to dry while perched on a tree branch!

 

A cormorant hangs its wings to dry

 

Cormorant in flight

Cormorant from a distance

I know there’s a visiting heron too!  I haven’t been able to get close enough for good photos, but here’s the proof, all the way on the other side of the lake.

From loons . . .

To painted turtles . . .  

I’m greeted by wildlife around every corner.

Goose and gosling enjoying dandelions for lunch

Canadian gosling

 

Mallards

Just this past Thursday morning, a snapping turtle laid eggs in my garden!  I was late for work, watching her move around, looking for just the right spot.

I’ll post more on that experience later, after I’ve edited all the photos.

School is out in just a few more days!  Check back soon for more posts on my backyard nature sightings, and some travel nature sightings as well!

Posted in Hiking/Kayaking, Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on June’s Wildlife Sightings

This Spring’s Backyard Visitors

When I talk to students at school visits, I always show my wildlife photography on the big screen.  Loons, eagles with chicks, fox kits at their den with the adults, bears, snapping turtles battling.  I talk about how researching them first-hand from hiking trails and my kayak inspires my stories and helps me find just the right describing words so that readers all over the country can picture these animals in their minds.

I end the visit with backyard photos, and tell my readers that with a little patience, they can wildlife watch, too!

I’m fortunate to live near a lake, and I never sit by it without my camera, as you never know when you’ll have visitors to photograph!

This pair of loons seemed to be searching along the shoreline in early May.  After they passed by the first time, I grabbed my camera and ran down to sit on the rock wall at the edge of the water.  Sure enough, forty minutes later, they passed by again.

My patience had paid off!  Because I sat so still, they came right past my dock . . .

They even seemed to be checking “me” out!   I’d hoped they would nest nearby, but alas, I haven’t seen them that up close and personal since.  Only from afar.

And only one at a time, so I suppose there’s a chance the other is on the nest.  I hope to get out in the kayak soon to investigate.

Another time, a Canadian Goose family came close enough for me to capture a photo with my long lens.

I kept hoping they’d come by the dock too, but they turned and traveled across the lake to the other side.  I saw enough to know there are three families traveling together!

One of my favorite photography subjects in my new backyard, is the hummingbirds.

I must take two hundred photos to get one good one!

They’re so quick!! They’re wings beat 53 times per second!   I may just have to use my camouflage cloak to try to photograph them.

I have tons of flowers in the yard and by the lake ~ hanging pots, flowering bushes, and perennials. They won’t go hungry in my gardens!

A visitor I had had in the campground each Spring, without fail, was the Baltimore Oriole.  I’d put out oranges  May 15th, and two or three pairs would arrive almost immediately.  When I heard they’d been seen in the area, I put out a couple orange halves, even though it was only May 5th.  I waited and waited, but I only had the one visitor around May 20th for a day or two.  But it takes time, so I haven’t given up quite yet.

Another day, as I crossed from the house to my gardening shed, I saw this gorgeous Garter Snake, doing the same!

It was crossing from the shed toward the house, but he took a quick turn to head down to the lake.

It was so long!

What I loved most while watching this snake, was how it would slither through the lawn, then raise his head slowly and sway back and forth with the grass while the wind blew.

I really enjoyed watching the Garter Snake. As long as I was at the end of my long,  500mm lens, that is.

There are so very many birds flitting in and out of my yard this spring!

We have a pair of cardinals . . .

And a pair of hungry Hairy Woodpeckers down by the lake.

There’s also two pair of Robins who are collecting grasses for their nearby nests.

There is so much to see in our backyards if we only stop for a moment to watch and listen.  Listen and watch. From Insects to birds to reptiles to mammals . . .

I’d love hear what you find.

Posted in Cooper and Packrat, Hiking/Kayaking, Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on This Spring’s Backyard Visitors

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Release

Those who have followed along on my wildlife adventures, might remember that I have a connection to Sanibel Island.  My husband’s parents introduced me to it years ago and it has become a home away from home.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve been able to go, and I couldn’t wait to get back with my camera. It’s a routine for me to get up in the morning and walk the beach just after sunrise, because the stillness of the world at that time of day and the softness of the light, makes it one of the best times for wildlife watching.

On our second day in, I almost didn’t take my morning walk because David had twisted his knee a bit and had decided to rest a day and you know .. . I thought, “if he isn’t going” . . . any old excuse to sleep in a bit.

But he encouraged me to go. So we made plans for me to walk the beach, then on to one of our favorite breakfast places, where he’d meet up with me. It was a half mile to the beach from Periwinkle Park Sanibel, two miles to the Sanibel Lighthouse and another half mile to a little restaurant for breakfast.

On the way, I got teary several times with all the beauty and wildlife around me . . . . ospreys feeding chicks, herons wading, a little banded Snowy Plover (Endangered! More on it later), a type of heron I’d never seen before (research needed), dolphins, more osprey, and shells galore! My heart was full.

And then, I saw a crowd on the beach up ahead. A news crew was there. People were smiling, nodding, and at the center of it all, an actual Loggerhead Sea Turtle! *GASP*

I’m such a nature geek . . . you all know that . . . I ran to join the group and waded into knee deep water with my 500mm lens and camera bag . . .

and to witness CROW – Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc. release this gorgeous creature back into the wild. it was such a humbling experience!

The turtle was a female, who was suffering from red tide poisoning and loggerhead anemia poisoning. Congratulations CROW on a successful rehabilitation!

Posted in Sanibel Island, Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Loggerhead Sea Turtle Release

Under The Shed ~ The Mystery Continues

It seems I spoke too soon with my last blog post!

You see, after the video where the fox went under the shed, there was this video showing the male bringing her a meal.  I felt this was a sure sign the vixen was having kits, because the female stays in the den with her young for the first couple weeks while the male hunts for food.  Turn on your sound to hear the two of them “talk”.

 

But the next couple of days showed only one fox visit, and in it, he brings a meal, but leaves with it right away. No calls. No lingering.

I feared I had chased them off unwittingly, after all.

The next couple of videos brought us back to squirrels and birds.  But not as many as before . . . so I still hoped the foxes were around.

And then suddenly, all in one night, there were six videos showing a porcupine coming and going from the entrance to the den under the shed. I suspected it was the climbing the young pine tree next to it, eating. This is the last video of the night . . .

 

It went inside!  That showed us two things, one, I was right about the female fox not being inside with kits. Perhaps I scared them into moving to their backup den, or perhaps they hadn’t had the kits yet, after all.

But this brought up a new question, did the porcupine have a porcupette under there?  (They typically have only one – two is very rare)  It is breeding season for them as well, after all.

That’s it, I thought. We’d be documenting porcupines this spring. They’re cute. And interesting!   This could be fun!

Then the next night, after a video or two of the porcupine hanging out, the fox returned to check on what was probably now their “back up” den.

Doesn’t he look a little surprised????

And the next day, I pulled the memory card again . . .

 

 

Did you see the porcupine move toward the den opening to protect it?  That’s the fastest I’ve seen it move yet!  The other behavior I noticed right away was how it slapped it tail in a “I mean it” way.   I was glad to see the fox take the movement seriously, so it didn’t get hurt.

So now I’m not sure who will end up claiming the den!

Stay tuned . . . I don’t think this is over yet . . .

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Under The Shed, Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Under The Shed ~ The Mystery Continues

Under the Shed: Mystery Solved!

Just a couple days ago, I had begun a blog post to report out that whatever had been digging at the base of our shed, had stopped.

For the last couple weeks the trail camera picked up video after video of birds and squirrels foraging. And squirrels and birds. Gray squirrels. Red Squirrels.  In fact, those darn Red Squirrels got into the shed and taking a roll of paper towels, they strewed them everywhere!  It almost looked like they’d TP’d the place.  Which was a little comical, honestly.

So when the temperatures warmed up on Monday, I decided the coast was clear to pull some chairs from the shed to put on the porch.  My first Spring action!   After locking the shed back up again, I grabbed the memory card from the trail cam and went back in the house.

Later that night, I sat at my computer to watch what I thought would be more squirrel and bird footage.

Instead, I sat with my mouth hanging open when I found this . . .

Now, I find myself hoping I didn’t scare them off already!  I have two trail cameras aimed at that shed, and every finger and toe crossed that I can cross.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have some kit pictures as they emerge from the den for the first time???  Okay, I know I already did that, but it doesn’t get old. Ever.

Or Mom and kit photos?   Happy sigh!

Or . .. dare I suggest it .. . a live fox cam!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First we have to determine if they’re going to stay after I tromped all over the inside of the shed, lecturing the squirrels on cleaning up their “room”.

More to come . . .

Posted in Cooper and Packrat, Under The Shed, Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Under the Shed: Mystery Solved!

Our Little Shed Mystery

I was so happy to see that our new house had this cute little garden shed.

We moved into our house right after Thanksgiving, so we only had time to store some of my gardening things inside, close the doors and before we knew it, winter arrived.

I looked out at it longingly through the weeks, thinking about opening it up in the Spring, carefully placing my stone ducks and turtles and frogs in the garden behind the house. I mentally placed my planter hooks based on which corners of the yard had full sun, and which had shade.

When temperatures reached 60 degrees a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t resist walking the yard and checking out any and all plants poking through the snow.

And then I noticed this . . .

Oh boy! Here we go again!  was my first thought.  The last time I found a hole and my  nature geek side began “wondering” what lived there, this happened.

And right there on that day, my third Cooper and Packrat eco-mystery book, Mystery of the Missing Fox was inspired. Written. Rewritten. Rewritten again. And published.

And now I needed to know what lived in this hole!

So I set up my trail camera and looked around the shed for clues as a blizzard bore down on us.  I smelled the faint odor of musk.  It could be a skunk.  Or a fox marking.

There was no second opening.

I checked the memory card every day for the next three days. It didn’t pick up any images, but on the third day, I noticed the opening had been dug out a little more.

My curiosity grew! What could it be?  People online had connections, stories and ideas.  In addition to fox and skunk, people had had woodchucks, minks, and feral cats living in rock walls and under buildings and porches.

The blizzard came and went with no signs at all. I checked again for another opening. Nothing.

On the next day, temperatures inched into the 40’s. I ventured outside for another look and found we’d had some activity overnight!

I grabbed the memory card and plugged it into my computer.  There were a dozen videos of snow falling and the end of the camera’s tie cord fluttering in front of it.  I began to wonder if it was another night of nothing videos.

The very last video showed something completely different . . .

Digging under the Shed

It’s not yet proof of what’s living next door to us, but it’s certainly a clue!  This fox has either claimed the hole under our shed as their den or backup den.  Or it was hunting for what moved in.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens over the next few weeks. It’s very possible we won’t see any more wildlife at all . . . But I hope we have a story in the making!

Posted in Wildlife Sightings | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Our Little Shed Mystery