Mount Desert Island, ME
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I had the fortune to visit to Mount Desert Island on work related business so not only did I get to visit Maine for the first time, but also it was a “free” trip. Unfortunately, the weeklong fish health course, which I was there for, was intensive and did not leave much free time to do birding. Still, I managed to get out and see a few sites and see some new things.
Having never been to Maine or to the East coast my adult life, it was quiet a treat to notice the difference in environments. The trees were the first thing I noticed they were short for one. Compared to the towering forest of the Pacific Northwest, the deciduous and spruce forests of Maine were dwarfed in comparison. Forests covered most of the landscape, but it was still too early for the fall colors that the East coast is known for.
The fish health course was at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory at Salisbury Cove near Bar Harbor. It was a beautiful location among a small town on the Maine coast. The location of the lab was also fortunate to be close to Acadia National Park, a fairly large park on the Atlantic Coast. When there was free time from the fish health course, I was able to visit Acadia on a couple of occasions.
At Acadia, I drove around the one-way circular route along the coastline and back through the forest. It was an enjoyable drive with some beautiful views of the rocky coastline. One evening I enjoyed the picturesque sunset from atop Cadillac Mountain.
Birding was difficult/frustrating at Acadia and on the island. Following the “Birding in Acadia” suggestions I stopped at several of their recommended places, only to be disappointed by the complete lack of birds. I don’t know if it was the timing, but the entire trip seemed to lack birds. The most numerous bird species I saw were the Common Eiders along the coastline. They were in rafts hugging close to the rocky shore, diving and feeding among the seaweed. Along the coast I also saw Black Guillemots in smaller numbers and Greater Black-backed Gulls, both birds are not common to the west coast, so it was a treat to see these birds, even though they are consider common in Maine.
The few “forest” birds I saw were actually close to the lab. During short breaks in the course, I took walks down the street to see if I could find any small flocks of passerines. Chickadees would alert me to their presence and I would look for any migrants that were foraging with them. I did find a few “good” flocks this way managing to see Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireos, Yellow-rumped, Tennessee, and Black-throated Green Warblers, and Northern Parulas. It wasn’t the full diversity I hoped for, but I couldn’t ask for more on a “free trip.”
My last night in Maine, I had a little bit of time to visit the farther parts of Acadia National Park Seawall, but unfortunately that day a thick fall rolled in, so my view of the ocean was completely gone. Instead I enjoyed a short hike along the Ship Harbor Trail. Before dusk set in, I drove along the road around the Hodgdon Pond. At the pond, I found some pitcher plants growing in the bog, which were a very cool find. I also found Bullfrogs in their native habitat! Right as the sunset, a pack of coyotes called from somewhere in the forest. Despite the lack of birds, it was a good way to end my brief visit to Maine.
Common Loon (summer and winter plummages)
Great Blue Heron
Greater Black-backed Gull
Dark-eyed Junco - "slate-colored"
Black-throated Green Warbler
Other Critter List
Eastern Gray Squirrel (in its native habitat!)
Bullfrog (in its native habitat!)
Acadia National Park
Maine Birding Trail
Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory