Finding Feathers Long Island

Special Entry: Annual Maine Vacation

Hey guys, welcome back! As promised in my last two articles, today’s entry will be devoted to telling you all about the last of the three trips I took last summer. This one to Belgrade Lakes, ME in late August 2019. As many of you already know, this trip is a very special one for me, one that I hold very dear to my heart.

My parents started renting a lakefront cabin on Great Pond in Belgrade when they were in their early twenties, before my siblings and I ever existed and it quickly became an annual summer tradition. A tradition that continued on throughout my childhood. My sister and I would eagerly cross days off of our calendar waiting for the day we all piled into my dad’s truck for the eight-hour drive to the most beautiful spot on earth. When I met Steven ten years ago my parents decided it was time to pass the tradition along and he and I began renting the cabin each summer. Four years ago while on this trip Steven proposed to me and we became engaged. Today we are happily married and each year eagerly look forward to our summer trip to the lake.

Since we had already had a summer full of extravagant trips at this point, and when we returned home I would be out of work on medical leave to begin my surgeries, we decided that our Maine trip this year would be very low key. We did not rent a boat as we usually did, there were no plans to really go out and do much other than relaxing and enjoying the nature and beauty around us.

Being in Maine is like living inside an oil painting. All the world around you is saturated with the richest colors your eyes have seen; from the forests of green pines to the sprawling royal blue waters and the rainbow of flying insects and birds between them. Wildflowers grow like weeds along roadsides and White-tailed Deer stroll down dirt roads without causing a passing glance. Not wanting to waste a moment of daylight we spend our time hiking, swimming, fishing, and exploring.

Aside from being an absolutely incredible place to relax and unwind, Maine is also a perfect place for observing wildlife! Every morning I woke before the sun and boarded my single-person inflatable rowboat, shoving off from the pebbly shore and out onto the lake while the night still clung around me. Thick clouds of mist rose up from the water as the warmth of the morning sun kissed the surface. To the right of our cabin the lake curves into a small bog called Austin Bog, which also happens to be a sensitive nesting area for many birds and amphibians. This is where the majority of my species were spotted over the next seven days.

Every morning I paddled myself to the bog, camera around my neck wrapped in plastic just in case disaster struck and things got wet. The familiar call of common loons could be heard echoing through the air all day and night, a sound I have grown to love above all others. These few hours each morning, floating on the calm lake, watching the sun rise with the thick morning dew settling over my skin and the songs of a thousand songbirds echoing in my ear; has truly become one of the things I most look forward to throughout the year. It is as though paddling out to that quiet area of the lake, while the rest of the world still slept and all the colors of the world painted slowly across the sky, was like paddling into another world, and I could never get enough.

Other than our camp and Austin Bog, we did venture to try one other place to get some birding in, and I’m glad we did. After a little research, Steven and I decided to head out to Viles Arboretum in Augusta, ME. It was a beautiful spot, free to the public and included six miles of various trails, a small apple orchard, vegetable garden, art installations, and a beautiful secluded pond. This is definitely a spot we will be revisiting in summers to come.

Steve caught a Pike from our boat dock!
Beautiful water lilies are in bloom in the bog
View of the lake from our front porch
A Weasel joins me for a view of the sunrise in Austin Bog
Our cabin

I am the first person to sing the praises of Long Island, I honestly think it is one of the greatest places to live. That being said, vacations are a necessary part of life, everyone needs to get away from time to time. We all work so hard just to survive these days, vacations are needed in order to get us all through the stress and embrace the good times with the ones we love. If you are anything like my husband and I and love being outside in the peace and quiet, hiking, kayaking, fishing, exploring nature, swimming and an amazing “Lobstah Dinnah” or two, then you should definitely consider taking a trip to Maine for yourself!

Now, without further ado, all the species I managed to see over our seven day trip to Belgrade, ME:

#1 American Goldfinch

#2 American Robin

#3 Bald Eagle

#4 Belted Kingfisher

#5 Black-and-white Warbler

#6 Black-capped Chickadee

#7 Blackburnian Warbler

#8 Cedar Waxwing

#9 Chipping Sparrow

#10 Common Loon

#11 Common Yellowthroat

#12 Double-crested Cormorant

#13 Eastern Kingbird

#14 Eastern Phoebe

#15 Eastern Wood-Pewee

#16 European Starling

#17 Gray Catbird

#18 Great Crested Flycatcher

#19 Hairy Woodpecker

#20 House Wren

#21 Mallard Ducks

#22 Osprey

#23 Pied-billed Grebe

#24 Pine Warbler

#25 Red-winged Blackbird

#26 Red-breasted Nuthatch

#27 Red-eyed Vireo

#28 Ring-billed Gull

#29 Ruby-throated Hummingbird

#30 Sharp-shinned Hawk

#31 Song Sparrow

#32 Swamp Sparrow

#33 White-breasted Nuthatch

#34 Wilson’s Warbler (Lifebird!)

#35 Wood Duck

#36 Yellow-rumped Warbler

#37 Yellow Warbler

#38 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

So, seven days and I managed thirty-eight species including one new lifebird, not too bad. I will never be able to put into words the love I have for this place and what it means to me. As I have said before if you are looking for a getaway I highly recommend exploring Maine for yourself! Until next time my friends, stay safe, stay healthy and Happy Birding!

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