The parking lot and trail at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge here in Southern Maine has been closed until just this past weekend, so I have not been able to check on this year’s crop of Jack-in-the-pulpits near the bike rack were they have been growing for several years. Now that the parking lot is open, I stopped by on my eBike to see what was up. I suspect the first plants were transplanted as part of a “wild garden” concept, which has since gone completely wild. The Jacks that grow there are the largest I have ever seen…way larger than I could have ever imagined Jack-in-the-pulpits could get. The oldest plants are over 3 feet tall with many pulpits…and some of the pulpits themselves are 6 inches in length. The leaves can be a foot long. These are really big plants. And they are spreading. There are now two smaller plants along side the bike rack that were definitely not there last year. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at various focal lengths (the Sony has full time macro focus). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Something a bit different today. Along the back side of the loop at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, there was a land slippage on the high bank over Branch Brook last spring that took an overlook and part of the trail with it. One of the tall spruces that was on the edge of the bank is now down near the river, leaning against the back and out over the trail. It did not survive the fall, and is now slowly turning brown. They will get to it with a chainsaw one of these days soon, but for now it is like a rich bronze casting over the trail, especially in afternoon light. I moved in close and tried several different compositions out at the long end of the zoom, in an attempt to capture the effect. Sony Rx10iv at about 440mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications (which I also use for macro). Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Near the bike-rack, right where I see them every time I go to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Wells Maine, there are a few stands of giant Jack-in-the-pulpits growing…the largest plants of their kind I have ever seen. This is one of them. The tallest blossom is about two and half feet off the ground. Giant! Sony RX10iv at about 150mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
The Jack-in-the-pulpit is a strange plant, and relatively rare in southern Maine (or at least rare in the places I frequent). I have seen them several times at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) but the stands I knew are apparently gone now. This one is growing on the edge of what used to the frog pond at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. There are several there that I am watching. This is an early bloom. There are some giants there that should bloom over the next week or so, and I hope to catch them. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
American Robins are the quintessential back yard bird. They are so common as to be cliche. Still, they are forest birds and you do see them in any forest here in the North East. And, like the chickadees at the feeder, which suffer the same over-familiarity, they are somehow more handsome when seen in their “natural” habitat. At least to my eye. 🙂 This one was actively feeding in the mixed forest along the Rachel Carson Interpretive Trail at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Wells, Maine. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Yesterday I biked down to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters trail to check on the Pink Lady Slipper orchids, which were just budding out the middle of last week, several weeks late. There is a large patch on the inside (land side) of the trail right behind the buildings, and there is a small patch below one of the overlooks where they maintain an opening onto the marsh view. The ones on the inside were still in bud, but at least two of the flowers on the sunnier marsh side had opened. There are more to come, clearly, in both spots and if we get a few warm days here they will all be open. The first blooms to open this year are pale compared to other years. Only time will tell if that is the trend this year, or just characteristic of the early bloom. The Lady Slippers are wonderful, ornate, delicate blooms…endangered due to habitat loss, and protected. I know of a few other more isolated spots where they bloom in the area, but the ones along the headquarters trail are certainly the most reliable and accessible. Sony RX10iv at 365mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr.
Yesterday was a day for looking for wildflowers. I took my ebike out to the headquarters trail at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge to see if, despite our ridiculously late spring, there were flowers in bloom. The Hobblebush is, of course, still in bloom, but then, that sometimes blooms in February. The Lady Slippers, generally a safe bet for Mother’s Day, are just budding out. Late indeed. However the Two-bead Lily are past, so they apparently bloomed on schedule. ?? I found the Rhodora above in a road-side ditch on my way to Rachel Carson, and the Wood Violet, Blueberry, and Painted Trillium along the trail. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
Three trees obviously. Pine, Maple, and Birch. Two at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and one just down the road at Laudholm Farms. I don’t know if you can call it a “good” use of an ultra wide frame of view, but I like to try it on occasion. 🙂 Sony a5100 in-camera HDR at 18mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. The trick of course is to be really close to the tree…but then trees are not that shy.
I had a strange (and slightly wonderful) encounter yesterday. I decided to go down to the beach for a few moments to photograph the stormy sky. As I drove the access road, which runs along the top of a causeway, it was unusually high tide, with the normal marsh on either side of Back Creek where it empties into the Mousam River behind the dunes of our local beach was fully under water and the tide lapping high up on the causeway. I noticed what was obviously a fairly large bird right at the edge of the water, up against the causeway, not 6 feet from the road. My driving impression was that it was a Razorbill, and when I got the car parked and walked over to see, it was indeed a Razorbill. What it the world? What is a Razorbill doing behind the dunes, pressed up against a roadway? It seemed to be in relatively good shape. It stood and flapped both wings at one point, but when I approached it, instead of backing out into the water, it hopped out of the water altogether and came up the bank toward me, stopping right at my feet. Other than a slick of something brown on the chest I could see nothing wrong with it. Still, I called around trying to get help. I got an answering machine at both Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, which manages the marsh behind the beach, and the Wells Reserve (Estuarine Research Reserve, which is just down the road from Rachel Carson). I called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Game Warden hot line, which is really for reporting wildlife violations. A lady answered and took my particulars and phone number and said someone would call. About 15 minutes later a Warden did call. He could not get anyone to me on Saturday afternoon. I expressed my concern that a dog was going to get the bird, as the beach is popular with dog walkers in the winter, and not everyone obeys the sign that says the dogs must be on a leash…or, more likely, that gulls would get it. He suggested that I either box the bird up and drive it an hour down the interstate to the Animal Rescue in York, where they might be able to help it, or that I move it to a more secluded spot out of the sight of any marauding dogs, and with some cover from gulls, and let it fend for itself. He said birds are often not really hurt…but just resting after some trauma, and will recover if left to their own devices…something I already knew from past encounters with apparently injured birds. My wife needed the car in just a few moments, so I did put a fabric shopping bag I had in the back seat of the car over the Razorbill and moved it to the shelter of some overhanging brush well off the road. Best I could do.
When I got home, of course, I did a bit of research, and discovered one concerning thing about stranded auks…they can not take flight from land. I worried I had put the bird too far from water, so this morning at first light I went back to the beach with heavy gloves and a box, intending a deeper intervention, perhaps even an attempt to clean the oil or whatever it was from the birds feathers, if it was still there. It was gone…and there was no sign of predication. I am taking that as good sign.
Of course I took a lot of photos while waiting for the Game Warden to call me back. As I said, the bird apparently had no fear of me, and I got closer than I ever hoped to get to a living Razorbill (close indeed since I actually had it in my hands when I moved it). That was certainly special.
The three photos above are from the Sony RX10iv, close-ups at 600mm and wide shot at 300mm. All in Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
Fall has produced an abundant crop of interesting scale fungi on the fallen limbs at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. There is a beauty in the patterns and the shapes, at least to my eye. Sony RX10iv at 489mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr.