Friday, July 12, 2013

Vacationing: Part 2

Our campsite looks like a computer desktop background that the computer always comes with... The forest was thick with these awesome coniferous trees.
     The second part of our Maine adventure took us to Acadia National Park, where we camped at the Seawall Campground. We were close to the ocean but surrounded by forest. The campground is away from the main area of the park where all the tourists are, so it made for a quiet place away from the crowds, it felt more secluded. The mosquitoes were large and relentless, we took great care to not let them into our tent at night, but I still woke up with welts on my face.
     I was hoping to be hear owls at night and see bats and other nocturnal creatures, but the first night it rained, and the second night, nothing. We did though wake up to the melodies call of the hermit thrush and when the sun set, we got an encore. The hermit thrush song gives the forest that "enchanted" feeling, like you are in a fairy tale.
     On our first evening in Acadia we hiked the Wonderland Trail:

Walking down the main road took us past the natural sea wall, an active beaver pond full of vocalizing green frogs, and curious squirrels.
Here is one of those curious squirrels now. This is a red squirrel, they were all over because there were lots of pine trees around. These squirrels feed on their cones, getting to the seeds within.
Some pretty flowers along Wonderland Trail.
So. Much. Lichen. EVERYWHERE! Lichen is a symbiotic partnership between a fungi and algae. The fungal friend protects the algae, and the algal friend makes food for itself and the fungi. BFFL = Lichen.
Another pretty flower getting pollinated by a friend.
I'm likin' all this lichen.
Reached the end of the trail. We are really good at getting to places at low tide.
We found more common eiders... and a chick!
A dark eyed Junco claims his tree. These guys are super common in NY during the winter. They have some pretty nice summer digs up here in Maine.
I spy a tadpole! We heard many of his potential parents, he was about 3" long, a larger tadpole scooted away quickly, this guys stuck around. Good thing I'm not a hungry heron.
Saw many of the warblers I saw here in May up here! This is a yellow throated warbler, also saw yellow-rumped warblers, and black-throated green warblers around our camping area and redstarts in the park. Same ones I saw here, here, and here.
     Our first full day in Acadia was spent driving up Cadillac Mountain, driving the loop road and stopped to hike the Jessup Trail, check out Thunder Hole, hike up to Gorham Mountain, and stop whenever we saw anything interesting:
Eagle Lake, I presume, from Cadillac Mountain.
The rest of Eagle Lake.
An interesting caterpillar chugging along over the tundra-like environment of the upper elevations of Cadillac Mountain. The rock faces were covered in lichen with small coniferous trees, spread out in sparse patches.
Looking down and out, so beautiful! Found out, the visibility can be fairly cruddy as pollution from the coastal cities, as far away as New York make their way up the coast to Maine, and here it is, making the far off areas hard to see. 
This type of environment is technically called an alpine tundra.
Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain. 
More postcard photos...
A green frog suns itself on Jessup trail. Jessup trail is supposed to take you through a meadow although on the way back we took a trail that runs right next to it and it was more like a flooded meadow... you'll find out why.
A skipper butterfly unrolls its proboscis in preparation to feed.
We turned off Jessup to walk through this very cool trail.

A hermit thrush, this brown bird may look boring and plain, but it was awesome to wake up to its songs every morning and cook at our site at night to it later.
Hmmm. Two large rodents live in this area, beaver AND porcupine. This was not very close to water, and there was more of this up the tree, so I want to say a porcupine did this. I wanted to see a porcupine very badly, the only ones I saw were roadkill and that makes me sad. 
On the porcupine tree, this guy landed in front of me (and kind of scared the heck out of me - I am not good with bee-like creatures). This crazy looking thing is an ichneumon wasp. They are parasitic and lay their eggs on a host insect. Their larvae hatch and feed on it. This is a female--- that "stinger" is what she uses to lay her eggs with. This thing was crazy and looks so alien, you have to kind of appreciate how crazy this creature is!
Hiking the trail adjacent to Jessup was soooooooooo flooded. We had on waterproof hiking shoes and boots, so it was pretty fun and we saw lots of green frogs.
We also saw evidence of why the trail might be flooded.... Beavers.
Any clue on what this is? I don't... closest I got was a Tennessee warbler. What do you think? Feel free to submit a comment. 
After driving away from Jessup trail I got a blurry photo of a white-tail buck growing in its antlers.
Beaver lodge on pond. The lodge is where the beavers actually live. The dam is what they use to flood a river and create suitable habitat for themselves AND many other organisms reliant on a steady body of water. This makes beavers a keystone species, many other organisms rely on them, especially.
We hiked alllllllllllll the way up to the top of Gorham Mountain. This herring gull took the easy way up.
A cedar waxing. We are above it on the mountain peak. We had a birds-eye view of the birds.
     We arrived back at our campsite and my husband went to read his book, I couldn't not resist the temptation to walk around...
In the parking area at the campground I heard all this tapping only to find a Junco very mad at his reflection...
...And then he would claim victory.
A snowshoe hare was a regular visitor to the parking lot every evening. I saw him the first night after picking up firewood at a general store and pulled right up to him in the car and he just nibbled away. One thing I did not notice till I got home and viewed the pictures on the computer is the ticks lining his ears. Glad none of those made it onto me.
Hares, rabbits, and pikas are a part of the lagomorph family, not the rodent family.
Also, rabbits and hares do not eat copious amounts of carrots. They prefer grasses. 
The first day we saw the sun and a full sky of stars!
     The next day, which was the 4th of July, we wanted to make a stop to check out the falcons nesting on the cliffside at Precipice trail:
Do you see the fledging falcon testing its wings dead center? The two youngsters just began flying and plying in the air, which allows them to practice flying and hone their skills. 
These are peregrine falcons and they were way high up on the mountainside. We could hear them vocalize from below. At this trail's parking lot, rangers were stationed with a spotting scope and were wonderful about answering questions and knowledgeable about birds in general.
The two young falcons engaged in the bird version of tag. While viewing these guys we also saw a turkey vulture, which the falcons don't care much for and ignore and a bald eagle which flew strategically low past the falcons till it got away and began to soar higher. The falcons go after the eagles as they are a threat to their nests and young. Eagles are opportunistic and will steal prey and anything they can get their talons on.
     Our trip to Maine was super awesome. It was a long drive, but well worth it. It was wonderful to wake up in nature, especially while camping in Acadia. We could have done without the ravenous mosquitoes though. I highly recommend a visit if you can, camping was very inexpensive costing us $14/nt for our campsite and $20 for the park pass. Check out Acadia here and the camping options here. Happy trails!