Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Curtis Farm Preserve

Since moving to Harpswell, Maine I have been attempting to explore the area around me. I have discovered that there are several properties that are part of the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, or HHLT. I have already written about Mitchell Field and Skoldfield Shores. Well, earlier this fall on a Sunday afternoon while my husband was watching football I went out for a hike on the Curtis Farm Preserve property that is just south of Mitchell Field on Route 123. The property is well marked with signs by the edge of the road. I pulled into the parking area and donned my birding gear and headed out.

There is a trail around the field and another that leads through the woods and down to the coves. It is a 1.5 mile hike one-way down to the coves, so I headed that way. My path took me along the edge of the field and into the woods. It was a mild day with few insects and patchy sunshine. I could already see the lengthening shadows of fall. Tall oaks and maples towered over me and I felt small and alone in the world. As far as I knew, I was the only one there. When I first parked the car I was startled as a merlin flew over my head. After that the birds I saw were few and far between with some lengths of the trail being silent, but I attributed that to the time of year and the time of day, since it was late afternoon when I started.

In some places I crossed foot bridges like this one.

Mt. Washington can be seen on a clear day!

In another spot I came to a bit of a rise where I could see clear across Middle Bay, and according to the information at the trailhead, that is Mount Washington in the distance! The trail then descended down, down deeper into the forest. Soon I was on flat land in deep shadows winding my way through trees. In places the trail was muddy and I crossed several of those split log bridges, but eventually the ground beneath my feet became gravely and I emerged into Curtis Cove.

Curtis Cove 9-20-15
A sandy beach curved away from me on both sides. Waves lapped at the shore. Nearby was a little bench. I could see this would be the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch and sit, or bring my grandkids for a walk. In the summer they could play on this gently slopping shore. And while a 1.25 mile hike down through a forest seems a bit far to hike with swimming stuff, there is another parking lot located on Basin Cove Road which is only a short .25 mile walk on flat land to the cove!

Far across the cove I could see the pier at Mitchell Field!

The pier at Mitchell Field

It was while I was hiking back through the lower part of the forest that I had my best encounter of the day.

I was hiking though a boggy area past several of these uprooted trees when I heard a little trill and saw a small brown flash. The shadows were deep and the light was low from the setting sun but I froze in my tracks and to my surprise and delight I discovered first one, then two, then three little Winter Wrens flitting about on the forest floor and climbing over roots and moss covered limbs. I even watched one climb into a little "cave" in the roots of one of the trees. Later I learned that the scientific name of a Winter Wren means "cave dweller"! Imagine that! I have only seen Winter Wrens a few times in my life and this by far was my most delightful and rewarding encounter with them. My only frustration was that even though the birds were quite close to me, the light was so low that I could not get very clear pictures of them!

Still, it inspired me to write a little poem and I posted more photos of them in the previous post. It is called:

Here are some helpful links:

Notes: Please excuse the formatting issues as Live Writer is no longer working and the blogger interface is a bit more difficult to work with. If I knew HTML I know I could figure this out, but I do not have time to mess with it right now! Using regular blogger will take me much more time and energy as I will now have to re-size all my photos before posting and insert all my links each time. Live Writer is much more user friendly! There is some hope that it may yet be revived, but I sure wish that Microsoft still supported it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

In the Realm of the Winter Wren

In the dark forest

in the thick trees

in the deep shadows

a small creature moves

and all you observe

is a tiny brown blur

 until it hopes up on a stump

its tiny tail cocked

and gives you an inquisitive eye

while you pause in your tracks

in the soft forest duff

you know you are in a magical place

with ferns growing thick

around uprooted trees

the home of this "cave dweller"

and you should be pleased

it is a blessing from Nature herself

to enter the Realm of this little brown elf!

These images were captured at the 

in Harpswell, Maine on September 20, 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Skolfield Shores

1. DSC_0959 Skolfield Shores 9-14-2015
September 14, 2015: Ever since moving to Harpswell I have made it my mission to take advantage of the time I have here and explore the area. One of the places I was able to hike and bird at before hunting season started was Skolfield Shores. It is a nature preserve off Route 123 in Harpswell. I had driven by the parking lot several times, but finally pulled in and parked on September 14th. There is a lot more to the preserve but I only took the short hike to the shore to see what I could see. I knew that shorebirds were migrating back then and was hoping I would see some. The trail led me through a yard and past houses and down through some trees, before opening up into a meadow and emerging at the shore.
2. Middle Bay-0955 From there I had a marvelous view of the Middle Bay.

3. greater yellowlegs-kab And I did find a greater yellowlegs searching for prey on the shore!

4. little trail-kab It was low tide, so I was able to walk out on this little path to those rocks.

5. north up the cove-kab This is the view looking north up Middle Bay.

6. across the bay-kab Somewhere on that side is Barnes Landing!

7. great blue heron-kab Just before I left, a Great Blue Heron flew in to fish the shoreline.
Then it was time to turn back and climb the stairs into the woods and across the meadow on my return trip. I have not been back since. During hunting season I was afraid to go into the woods for fear of getting shot, but now that hunting season is over I hope to go exploring again. I did not think I would have this opportunity, but we are having such mild weather that I may still be able to do it! We have not had any snow yet here in Harpswell, so I feel I am being given a gift. I just have to get used to going out birding in the middle of the day since it gets dark by 4:30 PM!
8. stairs-kab