Monthly Archives: July 2021

More Monarchs in Blazing Star

Monarch Butterfly: Kennebunk Plains Preserve, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — More of the Monarchs among the early Northern Blazing Star on the Kennebunk Plains. A study in color contrasts. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Monarch among the Blazing Star

Monarch Butterfly on Northern Blazing Star: Kennebunk Plains Preserve, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — The first early blooms of Northern Blazing Star are just opening right now. It looks like a very good year for Blazing Star on the Kennebunk Plains as there dense stands of plants about to bloom over wide areas of the plains. Already the insects are gathering. I saw more Monarchs than I have seen in several years yesterday, even in my short hike through one section, as well as a couple of Cloudy Sulphurs and Wood Nymphs, hundreds of Bumble Bees and wasps, and some very large and very loud hornet like things. The Monarchs, in particular, are beautiful feeding on the Blazing Star. For those who don’t know, Blazing Star is a threatened and protected species across most of its historical range, and here in Maine. The Kennebunk Plains are managed, in part, for Blazing Star. I leave on Monday for a week in New Mexico and I hope the full bloom is still going on when I return. Blazing Star and the insects it attracts in August always make for one of my favorites times of year on the Plains. Nikon B700 at 610mm equivalent. Program mode. Spot focus. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Turkey in the hay (field)

Wild Turkey: Near Emmon’s Preserve, Kennebunkport, Maine, USA — I detailed this experience in yesterday’s Day Poem, but essentially I stoped on my eTadpole recumbent trike to look at a dragonfly in a ditch and there were two turkeys sheltering in the tall grass and flowers on the far side. This one poked its head up to see what I was up to and I managed a few shots (once I got my camera untangled from the bag where rides between my legs on the trike). There were not completely open lines-of-sight as the hay was just about as tall as the turkey, but it is at least an evocative shot. It was a very hot day for southern Maine and the Turkeys were struggling with the heat. Nikon B700 at 1400mm equivalent. Program mode. -/3 EV. Spot focus. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Egrets along the Mousam

Great and Snowy Egrets: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — For Kennebunk in southern Maine, this is a good sized concentration of Egrets. It is not like Florida in the winter, but in August we get Egrets, both Great and Snow, staging their way south, and stopping over in the marshes along the coastal rivers for a few weeks. The top panel is at 228mm equivalent on the Nikon B700, and the bottom panel is from the same spot at 1440mm equivalent. Both shots are somewhat limited by the light haze of smoke from the western fires which has reached Maine in the past few days. Nikon B700 in Program mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos and assembled in FrameMagic.

Fresh Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper: Alwive Pond Preserve, W. Kennebunk, Maine, USA — A couple of grab shots of a Brown Creeper I encountered on the tail in to Alwive Pond. Grab shots are about all I seem to get of this hyperactive bird. This must be a fresh bird…either this year’s fledgling or a bird with brand new tail feathers. The tail feathers of our New England creepers are generally very worn and tattered, and considerably shorter by the time I see them. It is also particularly “brown” for an Eastern Brown Creeper. 🙂 Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Morning visitor: Cardinal

Northern Cardinal: For a week or so we have had the neighborhood male Cardinal visit our feeding station early in the morning, just about sun-up. Yesterday both the male and the female came. They don’t let me get even right up to the inside of the deck door…if so much as a shadow of me shows they are off, so this was taken from well inside through the double-glazed door. Still a handsome bird! Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 4000 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Last of the Wood Lilies

Wood Lilies: Day Brook Pond, Kennebunk Plains Preserve, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I was surprised to find a few Wood Lilies still in bloom, right along the edge of the forest at the end of Day Brook Pond where it is pretty much always in the shade. They were tall too! Nikon B700 macro focus mode at 120mm equivalent. Shutter program at 1/640th.

Green Heron

Green Heron: Evidently this Green Heron has made the drainage ponds at Southern Maine Health Care part of its territory. It has been at the ponds on my last several visits. When it flies off it goes into the woods south of the pond along the outflow…but it is soon back so it does not go far. It is relatively tolerant of humans. It sat on the posts of the little footbridge over the outflow for a long time while I hunted dragonflies on the other side of the pond. A handsome bird. 🙂 Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/125th @ f6.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Northern Black Racer

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.

Painted Turtles

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.