|What is it with people hanging dead animal heads on walls? I'm grossed out and fascinated by it all at the same time.|
With my Dad's heart surgery and Gus's stroke, I knew Kathie would want to stay home. I told Kathie not to stress because Gus was more important. He's an amazing guy. I just didn't want to intrude on their routine. But in Gus fashion, he told us to get out of the house and have fun. So like much of the summer, I "rubber banded" it with Kathie and my family in Wisconsin. We'd make it work and have fun with it all. It was a summer of family and friends which meant we birded close or somewhat close to home so that we could "snap" back if there was an emergency. Plus for everyone involved in both Wisconsin and Maine, we had to drive to appointments! They're still getting their treatments/therapy!
One of the places, we decided to explore was Baxter State Park. It was one of our splurges. Kathie's mission was to hit 500 lifebirds this summer. Mine was to add just a few. Our first lifer together was this beautiful Black-backed Woodpecker!
Baxter State Park is gorgeous and free to state residents! We stayed at the Big Moose Inn which was really an iconic piece of Maine history and close to the park. One of the things I love about Kathie is her knack for finding excellent restaurants and places to stay.
There were birders coming through the area and had also stayed at the Inn during our stay. I heard them in the morning but chose to stay in bed. After they left, we went to get breakfast. I could have sat there all day and it was Kathie who said, "Come on Rohrer, we've got birds to find." I was hesitant because I knew it would be another day fighting blackflies and mosquitoes. My body looked like a war zone after my trek to Maine. Surprisingly though, there were NO ticks in this park. So if we had gotten rid of the blackflies, our journeys out into the park would have been even more perfect.
Did we find a moose? Yes but the moose was on the interstate! There were moose sightings in the park, but we never did see one there. We did find this cool looking Eastern Painted Turtle however!
Blackflies kept up the attack. And human flesh was exposed. No amount of spray would keep them off my body. The spray worked with mosquitoes but not the blackflies. Even writing about this memory makes me itch and cringe again.
Ok. I'll admit that there is one vireo I kinda dig more than the others. The Blue-headed Vireo below is a looker. Their slightly slower call, yet very similar Red-eyed Vireo call, makes them a tad easier to find.
In Arizona, visitors always ask me, "What's that hawk?" My automated response is "Red-tailed Hawk." Then they respond, "But that doesn't look like our Red-tailed Hawk back home."
"It won't. We have several subspecies here."
Back to Maine. I'm in the visitor spot now and I ask Kathie, "What's that warbler call?"
There are so many vocalizations for this species. And I think I've nailed the ID on this bird now just by hearing their various calls a million times. I had A LOT of practice in both Maine and Wisconsin. I can officially "talk" to this bird and it's part of my bird vocabulary now.
|male American Redstart|
In many ways, Maine birding was my "dotting the i's and crossing the t's trek" to complete my flycatcher and vireo lists. I just need Black-whiskered Vireo now to complete all of my vireos for the US. Kathie and I both loved Baxter State Park. We only scratched the surface. Stay tuned for more.....