An abundance of Lady Slippers

You will want to view this as large as your device allows. 🙂 There is a poem:

I met a man out on one of my rambles
today who told me that if I just went
on out past the pond (where I seldom
go), and looked along on the left there,
down into the woods, I would find a
big patch of Lady Slipper Orchids.
“Has to be a hundred of them,” he said.
I took it as your typical Maine exaggeration,
but as I had nothing more pressing to
accomplish than checking on the
progress of early dragon and damselflies
around the pond, I thought, “why not”
and headed out there. It was further out
than I thought, but when I found the place
it was unmistakable. Not a hundred…
more like five hundred, Lady Slippers,
maybe even a thousand (and that is no
Maine exaggeration), though they were hard
to count among the trees and scattered
over a long thin rectangle of open woods,
maybe three hundred by a hundred feet,
as the slope slopes off down to the
brook among the big trees. I have never
seen anything to match it, Lady Slipper
wise. Some of the clumps were a dozen
blossoms or more, and some of the plants
were eighteen inches tall…big healthy
looking flowers, rich rose pink, delicately
veined, even in the half light of a cloudy
day under the canopy of tall maples, pines
and oaks. I took a lot of photos, of clumps
and individual blossoms, and of patches
were I could find a line of sight, but it was
impossible to capture even a little bit
of the impression of so may Lady Slippers,
so tall, so pink, all in such a small piece
of woods. Only on the way back did I
think of video. I could have maybe caught
it better with some pans and zooms over
a few moments as I moved about. Ah well.
The light was not great anyway. Gives me
a reason to go back out there the next
sunny day if we have one soon. I feel a bit
ashamed now of wining about not being
able to get into Rachel Carson for my Lady
Slipper fix…who knew the creator had such
a splendor of Lady Slippers up that sleeve?
And I will be forever grateful to the unknown
man who took the time to tell me to keep
walking and keep looking left and down.

And I did go back for the video, which came out okay, though I am not sure it catches any more of the impression of all those Lady Slippers. 🙂

Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent (video at about 80mm equivalent).

I am generally more specific with the location of my photos (and poems), but I have gone back and edited out all location info in this post and the poem. Not far from this patch there used to be patch growing the shade of a large pine on the edge of the pond, an unusual place to find them growing. This year, sometime in the past week, someone dug out every one of those plants, and left the empty holes. Lady Slippers are listed as a plant of “special concern” in Maine, grow very slowly and should not be dug up for transplant. In addition, they live in a symbiotic relationship with a fungus in a very particular type of soil, so chances of successful transplanting are very slim. Please. Leave them be!

How does this thing work? Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird (female), Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I am having a lot of fun watching the birds try to figure out how to get a drink from the pump and bucket water feature I have near my backyard photo blind. This Brown-headed Cowbird spent about 10 minutes at it before she managed to get a drink. Now that she has it down, she will be back. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Thirsty bird: Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — As the weather gets warmer the water features of my backyard photo blind feeding station become every more popular. I have a hanging water feeder, a hanging bird bath, and a recirculating waterfall pump and bucket thing. The birds (and chipmunks) are just figuring out the waterfall, but they have been using the birdbath all along, and individual Goldfinches, Chickadees, and one female Bluebird have figured out how to use the hanging water feeder. The male Bluebird, however, continues to prefer the hanging bird bath. My line of sight to the bird bath is getting more limited as the leaves come in. I may have to move it soon, as I will not be trimming back the vegetation. These shots of the Bluebird getting a drink of typical of what I see these days. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Make a wing…

Eastern Bluebird, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — While watching the fledgling Eastern Bluebird the other day, it did some practice wing stretching and I managed to catch the wing at full extension. Not great light, but still impressive. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Lupine season coming on…

Lupine. Kennebunkport, Maine. There is a poem that goes with this.

The lupines caught me by surprise
out Emmon’s way, late as the season
has seemed, and us with still a day
to go in May. The field at the fork
in the road there, where Goose Rocks
meets Guinea, where some years
the lupines make a purple pool under
the old maples and well out into the
hay, was coming into full flower already.
These last few days of 80 degree
weather have really rushed us on
toward June…only a few weeks ago
we saw our first rhodora and now
flag iris and geraniums are blooming
in the ditches and lupine in the fields.
There at the corner, they have moved
the old hay rake out next to the road
right among the lupines. It is is always
there in that field, and this year they
must have figured they would save
the trespass of all the photographers
who waded out and trampled hay
getting to it among the flowers further
out. Nothing like a field of lupines
(unless you see them among a white
birch grove as I did once in Acadia),
and I look forward every year to
catching them in bloom, there, out
Emmon’s way, in early June. If you
are going to caught by surprise, may
it always be something like lupines.

Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent. HDR mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Feeding time. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Ma and Pa Bluebird parked their fledgling above the feeders near my backyard photo blind yesterday afternoon, and I got to spend an hour or more with the youngster, watching it explore, and especially watching as it try to figure out the flowing water feature I have installed. The bird clearly wanted a drink but had no idea how to go about getting one. Eventually it figured it out (see today’s poem: While watching, the male Bluebird came three times to feed the fledgling. The first time I saw the begging action and knew one of the adults was coming, but did not get the camera fired up in time. After that I paid more attention and got ready as soon as I saw the first sign of begging and managed to get two sequences of the actual feeding. The male was bring dried mealworms from the feeder on our deck. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

A tale of two frogs…

I went out to Day Brook Pond on what was the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area. Management of the area has apparently been reclaimed by the Nature Conservancy, who owns the land, and had a agreement with the State of Maine to mange it. All the signage has changed this spring, and they have put up new yellow gates to control vehicle access. The pond is still the same though. Rich in odonata, water snakes, turtles, birds, and frogs. This Northern Pickerel Frog was sitting quietly on the edge, only a foot or so from a mottled greenish frog that I took for a small Bull Frog, just the same size as the Pickerel. However, researching it this morning, I am thinking it might, in fact, be a Green Frog, also common in warmer waters (like the edge of Day Brook Pond) in Maine. You can just see the straight ridge behind the eye on the left side. If so, I assume I have seen hundreds of Green Frogs in Maine, and simply mis-identified them as small Bull Frogs all along. Now that I know the differences to look for, I will be looking more closely at any small green frogs I find. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — A new bird for the yard and the backyard photo blind. This Red-eyed Vireo flew in behind the feeders for just a moment…just long enough for a burst. The light was not great, just as I was thinking of going in, but you can just barely make out the red in the eye. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Lady Slipper Orchid

I had begun to think the only Lady Slipper Orchids I would find this spring are the ones out by Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains…which are atypical in that they grow in the open shade of big pine right on the edge of the pond…not in the deep forest where they are normally found. My forest site for Lady Slipper Orchids, at the Rachel Carson Headquarters, where I have photographed them every year for going on 25 years, is closed due to the pandemic this year, so I was stuck. Then I remembered seeing a few along the trial into Alwive Pond, on the Alwive Reserve of the Kennebunk Land Trust several springs ago. I have not been back out there in season since. Land Trust trails are open, though proper social distancing is required. I rode out there yesterday on my eBike and found that there were indeed lots of Lady Slippers, the first before you even get to the parking area, and then in clusters of single plants all along the first mile of the trail, with a few even further in. There was even one large clump with multiple blossoms…the way they grow at Rachel Carson. Lady Slipper Mission accomplished. (There is, of course, a poem to go with this, which you can see at

Delicate Spring

A few days of warmer weather and the leaves have leaped out…these images are from a week ago, when spring was still in a more delicate stage, and one of its most beautiful. I need to post them before even the memory slips away. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. All what I call “telephoto macros”. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications (which I also use for macro shots). Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.