It's been a busy week and it's hard to believe we've been here over a month and it's already October. Here's a synopsis of our last several days.
On this day off, it was dreary and rainy as expected. Linda did laundry and made a quick grocery run into Winter Harbor, but we didn't venture out beyond that.
Back on Schoodic Point, this was out busiest bird counting day yet. It was cool but pretty, and we counted over 2,000 migrants. Seth joined us as much as he could. In addition to the migratory waterbirds, we had eagles and falcons (Merlins & Peregrines) and other raptors along with our usual sightings of Harbor Porpoises.
Long-time reader and friend "Cardinal John" came out to the Point with two of his friends although we didn't have a lot of time to chat as the birds kept coming.
The recent temperature drop seemed to trigger the birds, and it looked like our statistics might start picking up.
Today was another cool, pretty day .....
but the bird count was lower. Still, it was a fairly busy day at over 1,000 migrating waterbirds.
We saw the Peregrine Falcons again, and we watched them hunting. One flew by with a small bird in its talons. The Peregrine Falcon is known as the fastest animal on earth having been clocked at over 200 mph when it folds its wings back and dives from high altitude. Watching their aerobatics is amazing.
Some visitors hoping to see one got a good look when it landed in a tree within binocular range.
As usual, the afternoon session was a bit slower, but not as slow as it had been. Lots of folks were out preparing to enjoy the sunset.
The sun is now setting almost an hour earlier than when we got here in late August. And when we get to our spot in the morning at 6:30, the sun has yet to come up whereas it was up a good twenty minutes or so before our count time when we started over a month ago.
Today was a bit more overcast but, as I've mentioned before, the overcast days provide us with a better background to see and count birds. Still the count went down a little as we had just under 600 hundred birds.
As we ended our afternoon session, the clouds were spectacular.
People once again gathered for sunset as one of the cruise ships left Bar Harbor.
It was going to be a sports weekend as I was recording the Ryder Cup and there were a lot of big football games. I watched morning session of the Ryder Cup between our birding sessions and watched the afternoon session in the evening.
Today was also cool and cloudy. There aren't many visitors during our morning session, but in our third hour a gentleman walked up. He had a ball cap with what I was pretty sure was a University of Louisville logo "L" on it. It's very specific, but I thought "No way would we see anyone from Louisville out here". Still, I had to ask and sure enough Kenny Karem was from Louisville, and he happened to appear on the day the University of Louisville football team was playing one of the biggest games in the history of the school.
It turns out Kenny is an author, educator, and backpacker, and we had a nice conversation as Linda & I watched the birds and pointed out the ones he could see with binoculars. He does educational programs for the Falls of The Ohio State Park on the Indiana side of the Ohio River across from Louisville. We used to go there on field trips as kids and look at the fossil beds.
Kenny said a lot has changed there, and he invited us for a behind-the-scenes tour next time we're in town. Since we were at the end of our morning session, he said he might come back again tomorrow.
In our afternoon session, we continued to interact with visitors. Being a life-long sports fan, I can recognize team logos on hats, shirts, and jackets, and I never pass up the opportunity to engage people about their sports teams to break the ice. On this college football Saturday, I knew most of the big games going on so it was fun to see their eyes light up when the "bird nerd" knew something about football. :)
One seemingly stoic lady with a Tennessee Volunteers hat came to life when I said "You've got a big game today". She said, "Yeah, my husband's in the car listening to it on the radio. It just makes me so nervous." When they won on a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds, I told Linda "That lady may have had a coronary".
We counted a little over 500 birds today and saw the falcons and porpoises. But we also got a good look at this Gray Seal that popped up a few times curiously looking at the humans on the rocks.
Their size, the big dark eyes, and the shape of their head clearly distinguishes the Gray Seals from the Harbor Seals.
Another great day on our little bluff looking out over the ocean. Unfortunately, my Louisville Cardinals came up a couple yards short of winning their game in the final seconds at 5th-ranked Clemson. I was up until midnight so it's going to be a rough morning.
This morning was one of the days we had been dreading. It was cold and rainy, and the rain came down steadily for the first two hours of our morning session. But the birds were flying, so we were out there in our rain gear. It was the first day we were really cold. I had on running pants, hiking pants, and rain pants plus a t-shirt, turtleneck, fleece, and rain jacket and a knit cap layered under a wool cap, but it still wasn't enough. My doubled up wool socks and hiking boots helped, but our gloves were inadequate and our hands were freezing.
Fortunately, the rain ended for our third morning hour. The problem is we're standing or sitting still for so long. If we were hiking, or just walking, and getting the blood flowing, we'd be fine. We shook our arms and hands, jumped up and down, and did what we could to get the blood pumping while keeping our eyes on the ocean.
Back home, we peeled off our rain gear, grabbed extra blankets, and crawled back into bed with most of our clothing layers on. We warmed up, and Linda went back to sleep while I watched football and golf well into the afternoon before getting up. The Ryder Cup was amazing.
For our afternoon session, the steady rain had stopped, but there was still a mist, so we had to don our rain gear again. It wasn't nearly as cold, so we stayed plenty warm. However, the visibility was bad for our first and last half hours. Still, we had some large flocks, and we ended up counting over 700 birds for the day. And to top off this dreary day, we got to see a family of otters just before we left.
Our days off Monday & Tuesday will be welcome, and it looks like we may have a warm-up coming after that.
This morning, I got back out and did my running after a couple of days off. All week I've been pretty pre-occupied with my Dad and making sure he's doing okay. He's under great care, but he's getting weaker. I talk to him every day or two instead of once a week, and we have to be prepared to go at anytime.
We've also got various business things going on, and we're just doing what we can to stay on top of them. A lot of the things I need to do take a lot of time on the laptop. Unfortunately, I'm just not focused enough, and I don't feel like staring at a screen after looking through binoculars for a few hours a day. My eyes can't take it. But hopefully, I'll get some things done today and tomorrow.
Today, Linda focused on cleaning and preparing a meal. We invited Seth over for dinner, and after a month we've let our place get a bit cluttered. So, we picked up, and I made a grocery run for Linda while she got a crockpot of Taco Soup started and did some of the heavier cleaning. We keep the our home pretty clean, so just putting things away helped a lot, and it doesn't take long to get the inside looking pretty spiffy. Seth arrived at 6:00, and he questioned whether or not we really live in the fifth wheel. :)
We chatted and our dinner of Taco Soup, Green Chile Cornbread, guacamole, and brownies for dessert went well. We learned a bit more about Seth and took up a couple hours of his time telling him more of our story.
In his early days working at the Audubon Society, he traveled on a converted school bus leading group trips across the country on educational and conservation programs. They camped out and cooked from supplies on the bus, so he's had his own little history of traveling and living on the road.
We really enjoy his company and are glad we selected this position for this year's workamping stint. He keeps telling us how thrilled he is to have us here and that it is working out much better than he expected. We can't ask for any more than that.
So, that's another week down. We only have four weeks to go, and it seems to be going very fast. Now that the crowds are starting to thin out over on Mt. Desert Island, perhaps we'll make it a priority to get over there and do some hiking and more exploring of the main part of the park. Or perhaps, we'll just hang out on our quiet, beautiful peninsula and count birds until we begin our own migration at the end of the month. :)