Northern Black Racer: Kennebunk Plains, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — The Northern Black Racer reaches the northern limits of its range here in York County, Maine. It is on the Maine State Endangered Species List, and is a Species High Concern. There is a monitored population on the Kennebunk Plains Reserve, which is managed by the Nature Conservancy in cooperation with the state wildlife agency. It is, in fact, one of the species, along with the Northern Blazing Star plant, Upland Sandpiper, and Grasshopper Sparrow populations, and a few other endangered or threatened species, which prompted the Nature Conservancy, the Kennebunk Land Trust, and the state of Maine to preserve the Plains. Black Racers are not easy to see…they are secretive and keep under cover much of their lives. Wildlife and Inland Fisheries has a radio tagging study on the Kennebunk Plains, and I have bumped into the researchers a few times. Even with radio tags the snakes are hard to find. I did not find this one. I just happened to be there when a gentleman…and amateur herpetologist…was releasing this snake where he had captured it the day before. He had taken it home to treat some wounds on its belly (perhaps from a hawk encounter) and to show it to his son, who had never seen one. I am not condoning this behavior…it is both illegal and in my opinion unwise (especially when it comes to endangered species)…something this gentleman was well aware of. To be fair, he was very conscientious about handling the snake with care…and the snake did not seem to be any worse for the experience. And, since I don’t go around turning over logs on the Plains (or anywhere for that matter) I would not have seen this snake any other way. (I have seen one Black Racer before on the Plains…but that was a chance encounter…and once out of many hundreds of visits to the Plains over the past 20 years.) This was not a big racer…though compared to the size of the head (about the size of my thumb) it was a very long snake (likely five feet or more). Like most constrictors its body, with it smooth scales, just exudes power. And, once sure of its footing after release, it demonstrated how apt its name is by racing, about as fast as my eye could follow, for the deep cover of a low stand of dense brush. Nikon B700 at 370mm, 140mm, and 445mm to frame the snake. Shutter program at 1/640th. ISO 220. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Eastern Painted Turtle: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — There are seven or eight species of turtles in Maine, depending on what authority you check. By far the most common is the Eastern Painted Turtle, which is found in ponds all over the state. They tend, in my experience, to be relatively shy…sliding into the water at any approach. I rarely get as close to them as I would like for photography. These live in the little drainage pond at the back of the Southern Maine Health Care parking lot, and seem especially brightly painted. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Shutter program at 1/400th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Carolina Saddlebags: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I stopped by the drainage ponds at Southern Maine Health Care on my way to the grocery store on my recumbent eTrike, just to see what was happening. I have not seen so many odonata of so many different kinds in one spot in a long time, if ever. Many Twelve-spotted and Widow Skimmers, large numbers of Blue Dashers, at least 2 mating wheels of Green Darner, an Eastern Amberwing, Amberwing and Spotted Spreadwing, many Eastern Pondhawks, a Unicorn Clubtail, and thousands of Azure Bluets. And I am probably forgetting some. But best of all there were Saddlebags. At least two Black Saddlebags which, in line with all my pervious experience, would not perch, and at least 2 “red” saddlebags, one of which was guarding a perch right at eye-level on a tall reed. I took a lot of photos, but the angle was not great for an identification, and I never did catch it from the back…still, I am petty confident it is a Carolina Saddlbags…especially since according to the Maine Damselfly and Dragonfly Survey, we do not get Red Saddlebags in Maine 🙂 Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Shutter program at 1/400th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Azure Bluets: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Another pair of odos from the Southern Maine Health Care drainage ponds. Azure Bluets in a mating wheel. There were thousands of Azure Bluets around the ponds. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Shutter program at 1/400th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Amberwinged Spreadwing: Southern Maine Medical Center drainage ponds, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I have been watching for the Spreadwings to emerge. It seems late, but maybe that is just anticipation talking. Yesterday’s Spreadwing (Swamp) was from Massachusetts…today’s is from closer to home, here in Kennebunk. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Shutter program at 1/400th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Red Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Another pose of our visiting Red Squirrel. I told the story yesterday. I took about 120 frames and saved a dozen or so, of the different poses. This fists up pose is his defensive, or maybe aggressive, posture when he was attempting to dispute the ownership of our back deck with me. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 418mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1000 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Red Squirrel: Kennbunk, Maine, USA — We had a Red Squirrel visiting yesterday…probably the same one that visited a month ago…but it is really hard to tell. This time I decided not to be satisfied with photos through the thermal glass deck door. I opened the door gently and, when the squirrel did not take much notice, I stepped out on the deck. For the next half hour I watched and photographed as the squirrel continued to explore and enjoy the feeding station. As I noted in the last Red Squirrel post, he (or she) can get into all the feeders…even squeezing through the outer cage around our double cage suet feeder. Once inside it climbs up on top of the inner cage where the suet is and eats its full…if indeed it understands the concept of “full”. I suspect it would eat the whole block. If I went right over to the cage while it was in it…it would scamper out…but it did not leave the deck. This is a bold Red Squirrel indeed. It would sit on the rail, staring at me, and chattering, laying its claim to the deck and all the feeders. It came back several times during the morning, but I did not see it after that, and it has not appeared this morning yet, so I suspect it has moved on to another yard, or returned to its own territory in whichever of the surrounding stands of trees it calls home. And to be honest, while I enjoy its visits, I would not want a family of them making a home in the yard. They get into everything. It was another “dark” day yesterday…very like the last visit…with heavy overcast and some mist in the air, but being able to photograph without the glass between us made for much more satisfying shots. Sony Rx10iv. This particular shot at 380mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1600 @ 1/500th @ f4.
Green Darner: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Two more shots of the Green Darner pair that I found at the Southern Maine Health Care drainage ponds here in Kennebunk. They were very busy ovipositing on a floating reed, and I was able to extend the zoom on my Nikon B700 to the full reach of its enhanced digital zoom at 2880mm equivalent, for these telephoto macro shots of the two heads. Shutter preferred program mode at 1/400th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Green Darner: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I go years between photos of a Green Darner…they just about never perch while I am around…but this is my second one for this year. I found a male settled out on the shore at the Sanford Lagoons last month, and this mating and ovipositing pair at the Southern Maine Medical Center drainage ponds this past weekend. There was a little window through the foreground reeds that opened and closed with the breeze. Nikon B700 at 917mm equivalent (they were close enough to overfill the frame at full zoom). Shutter program at 1/400th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Green Heron: Quest Ponds at Southern Maine Medical Center, Kennebunk. Maine, USA — I stopped by the drainage ponds at SMMC here in Kennebunk to check for new dragonflies, and to see if there were any spreadwings. Spreadwings have been noticeably absent so far this season. While there I was surprised when this Green Heron took off from under the reeds and landed on the lone rock in the pond. It sat there for long enough for a series of photos and then took off, likely for one of the other ponds around the edge of the parking lot or for the marshy area between lots. It is the first time I have see a Green Heron at these ponds, but it is first time in several years. It was overcast so not enough light to bring out the green highlights in the wings, but still a handsome bird. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Shutter program at 1/400th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.