Timber Point: Rachel Carson NWR. 10/06/14

Looking at Timber Point from the end of Granite Point Road

Looking at Timber Point from the end of Granite Point Road

It is always wonderful to discover a new place here in Southern Maine to explore, especially as access to public lands is limited in this well developed corner of New England.

A birding couple I met on the beach on Saturday told me about Timber Point and Timber Island trail at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. They were up for the day from Massachusetts, chasing eBird reports of birds of interest. I live practically next door to Rachel Carson Headquarters, and I had never heard of Timber Point or Timber Island. A little research turned up the facts. It is a new trail and a new property for the NWR system, acquired after a locally organized fund-raising drive that covered the $2 million plus purchase price. It is a point of rocky upland and mixed forest extending out along the ocean side of the Little River across from Goose Rocks Beach and south of Fortunes Rocks. At low tide you can walk out to Timber Island. Local volunteers, along with the Civilian and Youth Construction Corps, built trails and boardwalks as needed and one raised deck overlook, and installed a Tide Clock near the head of the passage to the Island. It is altogether a wonderful spot and one that I will add to my regular round of photoprowls. It was dead high tide when I was there yesterday of course, but I plan to get back there the first sunny day we have at low tide.

All images are with the Sony HX400V. Landscapes are in-camera HDR.

Timber Island from the tip of Timber Point

Timber Island from the tip of Timber Point

There were lots of the typical birds of the Maine fall: Gulls and Cormorants in the water, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrows, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Brown Tree-creeper, Rufus-sided Towhee, Blue Jays, etc. in the trees and marsh…most of which stayed well out of camera range. :) I did manage a few shots. The Brown Creeper was the first I have seen in Southern Maine in at least 10 years.

There were, seemingly, hundreds of chipmunks busy gathering acorns.

I counted 5 species of butterfly: Cabbage White, Clouded Sulfur, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, and Monarch. I was able to photograph all but the Monarch, which came flying across the marsh from the ocean side, down the road a ways to the first opening to the River side, and on out over the water again.

You walk down a shaded lane…the old road to the classic “Rustic” Maine hotel that occupied the point. The building is still there, now owned by the National Wildlife Service, but it is in need of major renovation. Its fate is uncertain, and it is currently out-of-bounds to the visiting public. Along the ocean side of the Lane is an extensive cattail marsh, home, I am sure, to many birds. The lane leads to a patch of rocky upland and a mixed hardwood forest (Timber Point), Then out into narrow meadows along the shore at the tip of the point. From here you have excellent views of the mouth of the Little River, Goose Rocks Beach across the water, Timber Island, and the open ocean beyond.

Cormorant taking flight off Timber Point

Cormorant taking flight off Timber Point

Friday morning is looking good for return trip and a walk out to the island. Look for an update sometime after that. And I am sure these are only the first of many visits to Timber Point and Timber Island in the future.

September Skies: Kennebunk/port Coast

Beach at the mouth of the Mousam River. Sony HX400V in-camera HDR

Beach at the mouth of the Mousam River. Sony HX400V in-camera HDR.

It was one of those perfect September days (just, it was the 3rd) on the coast of Maine. I started the day with a photoprowl to the beach and the Kennebunk Bridle Path along the Mousam River on my bike. I did a lot of processing when I got home, but it was too nice a day to stay in front of the computer, and I back out, up along the coast from Strawberry Island to Cape Arundel and the Bush Estate, on my scooter. On both photoprowls I was carrying the Sony HX400V.

The beach and the sky above it were amazing. The horizon was at its maximum and perfectly clear. High clouds were coming in from the west and piling out over the sea. I used the flip out LCD on the Sony for a variety of low angle shots, and took a few sweep panoramas. These (except for the panorama) are all in-camera HDR shots from the Sony. All are processed for HDR effect in Lightroom.

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Around the corner from the sea, along the course of the Mousam, looking inland was just as spectacular and the sky over Back Creek Marsh and the road to the beach was something special.

 

As I walked along the back side of the dunes, between the dunes and Back Creek, hundreds of dragonflies came up over the dune, coming in off the sea around Great Head Point into a stiff breeze. They were mostly Green Darners, with a few Wandering Gliders and maybe one or two Black Saddlebags. I put the camera in Sports mode and tried for some flight shots. There were also a whole group of Cabbage White Butterflies feeding on the Moth Mullen on the dune. As I was shooting a single butterfly on the flowers, a second did a perfect photo bomb! The butterflies are at the full 1200 equivalent field of view of the zoom on the HX400V, the dragonfly is at about 600mm and cropped.

I continued on my bike to the Kennebunk Bridle Path, which runs along the course of the Mousam River on the other side from the beach. It passes through forest and marsh all the way back to Kennebunk. There is what I call a water meadow on the other side of the path from the river, not far in, where a tidal brook enters the Mousam. The meadow/marsh is always beautiful, in every season, especially with an interesting sky above it. I took some more in-camera HDR shots, and tried both horizontal and vertical sweep panoramas. The horizontal panorama is shot with the camera in portrait orientation for the tall/wide effect. The vertical panorama is difficult to view on your average screen. Click on it to open it in a new window. Click again to expand it to full size if you want to study the detail.

In-camera HDR from the Sony HX400V, processed in Lightroom.

In-camera HDR from the Sony HX400V, processed in Lightroom.

tall/wide panorama using portrait orientation and sweep panorama.

tall/wide panorama using portrait orientation and sweep panorama.

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vertical sweep panoramas catch a lot of sky above the landscape for unique view.

On the way back across the Mousam River I stopped my bike long enough for a shot upriver. I could not actually get off the bike as the margin on the bridge is very narrow and cars were a constant danger, but I got what I needed.

Looking up river from the Rt. 9 bridge on the Mousam.

Looking up river from the Rt. 9 bridge on the Mousam.

Later in the day I decided to take my scooter and ride along the whole stretch of coast from Strawberry Island off Great Head in Kennebunk, to Cape Arundel and the George Bush Estate. The clouds were gathering, and I did not have full sun for some of the ride, but it was still spectacular. I have photographed St. Anne’s Church on Old Fort Point many times, in all kinds of weather.

St. Anne's Church. Kennebunport ME

St. Anne’s Church. Kennebunport ME

The same goes for the Bush Estate on Walker’s Point. I like the flowers here in the foreground. They are planted around the memorial to George Bush Senior, who summered in his wife’s family’s home on the point for most of his adult life.

Walker's Point and the Bush Estate.

Walker’s Point and the Bush Estate.

We will finish up with another vertical sky panorama, looking back over Colony Beach and the mouth of the Kennebunk River into Kennebunkport and Kennebunk.

Big sky over Kennebunkport

Big sky over Kennebunkport

 

Laudholm Beach and the Boardwalk 7/17/2014

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Looking northeast along Laudholm Beach. ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 on the Sony Alpha NEX 5T.

I generally avoid the Beach at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm in summer simply because it can get crowded with tourists. “Crowded” being a relative term. I suppose it is the relatively uncrowded nature of this beautiful stretch of sand that inspires people to park at the Farm and walk the mile to the beach, over the hill and through the woods, carrying a full day of beach supplies (which often includes a cooler and sometimes even an umbrella). Still, the tourists, if you let them, do diminish the sense of Reserve. I decided it was worth the distraction on a beautiful July day…and that it was hight time I checked to see if there were any nesting Piping Plover and Least Terns along the Little River at the end of the beach. Both the Least Tern and the Piping Plover are endangered in Maine and nesting sites are carefully protected and monitored, and every check is counted. I knew I was late by most of a month, but I thought there might still be a few birds around.

And of course you never know what other birds you will see on the beach and it is a beautiful stretch of sand! And rocks.

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Rocks are never far below the sand on any Maine Beach.

Tide and stream flow conspire all among the southern coast of Maine to continually expose the underlying bed of rocks that actually forms the beach. I found the last of this year’s Piping Plovers feeding along the edges of little pools in the sand and rocks.

At the end of Laudholm Beach the Little River flows out to meet the sea. Either side where the dune grass starts is roped off to protect the nesting sands of both the Plovers and the Terns. On a day like yesterday it is simply a beautiful spot. The shots are, like the beach shots above, taken with the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 on the Sony Alpha NEX 5T, some are in-camera HDR, and all are processed for HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet.

There were only a few Least Terns still around the nesting area. I managed a few flight shots and one sitting with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and the 75-300mm zoom. If you touch or click the images they will open a larger view and you can see that one Tern is carrying some kind of work like thing.

In the rapid shallow water right at the mouth of the Little, a group of Bonaparte’s Gulls were feeding and bathing.

Besides the ubiquitous Herring and Ring-billed Gulls, there were a few Greater Blackbacked Gulls.

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Greater Blackbacked Gull. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 600mm equivalent.

Walking back I stopped at the little pond formed where the old road crosses the marsh for a few irresistible scenics of the beautiful Maine day. Again note that the images in the tile will open to a larger view by clicking or tapping.

While taking the landscapes, this little Seaside Dragonlet landed at my feet. The advantage of having two cameras, I the long zoom always mounted, is clear here. I am getting fast enough on the draw to catch shots like this.

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Seaside Dragonlet (male). One of the smallest dragonflies in Maine.

I opted for the boardwalk trail back to the Farm and my parked car. You never know what you will see. This Chipmunk sat and posed within easy reach of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom, here at 1200mm equivalent using the digital extender.

Just about across from the Chipmunk I caught this Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly drinking sap from a fresh limb cut.

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It was great light for an HDR treatment of one of the big White Birches along the boardwalk. This shot used both the Sony Alpha NEX 5T’s in-camera HDR (+/- 6EV) and HDR processing in Snapseed.

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Only in-camera HDR could capture the blue of the sky behind the shadowed forest scene

I stopped at the overlook off the boardwalk for a view of the back side of the Little River Marsh and the dunes of Laudholm Beach. This is another HDR.

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Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8

Finally I made a detour to the overlook on the Little River by the research canoe launch, before hiking back to the car.

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ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8.

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm encompasses a number of very different habitats, which makes it an ideal place for not one, but many Photoprowls.

Parson’s Way, Cape Arundel 7/3/2014

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The first view of the mouth of the Kennebunk River, the breakwater, Gooch's Beach and Oak Point over the Beach Roses

Parson’s Way is a long thin park along the rocky coast line of Cape Arundel in Kennebunkport, Maine. It is mostly just a sidewalk, and a series of benches overlooking the rocks and ocean, but it is always a pleasant walk, and often provides interesting and beautiful images of the rocks and sea. It passes (or encompasses depending on how you go) St. Anne’s Church on Old Fort Point, a classic Maine rough field-stone building in a spectacular setting…and it ends at the overlook for Blowing Cave, across Sandy Bay from Walker’s Point and the George Bush Senior compound. On a day with a good sky and some sea action there are few stretches of coast in Maine to match it.

My wife Carol and I walked it on July 3rd when thunderstorms in the forecast, and the sky was piled with cloud. We parked just beyond the turn for Colony Beach, at the very beginning of Parson’s Way. The photo at the top is the first view over the hedge of Beach Rose. I was carrying my usual outfit these days…the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom, and the Sony NEX 5T with the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 and the 50mm f2.8 macro.

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Beach Rose in bloom. 12mm f2.8

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The view from the first benches. The extreme depth of field of the 12mm f2.8 makes images like this possible.

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Looking back along the coast, past Colony Beach and the breakwater to the full stretch of "Big" or "Gouch's" beach.

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Classic view of Kennebunk / Kennebunkport.

The gates at St Anne’s were open so we walked in and around Old Fort Point. St Anne’s is a popular wedding destination, and for good reason.

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The rough stone construction of St Anne's Church lends an air of romance that has enhanced many a wedding over the years.

Off Old Fort Point there were several nursery pods of young Eiders, with their attendant nurses.

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Nursery pod of your Eiders. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 600mm equivalent.

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The view back to Old Fort Point and St Anne's from the Sprouting Rock overlook.

From the Sprouting Rock overlook, you have a great view of what locals call “the movie house”. Exteriors of this house have figured in several major productions over the years, at least one of which was the kind of movie that gives the house it’s other name: haunted.

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The Haunted House or the Movie House. Several productions have been filmed using the exterior.

You might be able to just barely make out an extra protrusion on the chimney you can just see over the roofline in the center. Unbelievably, especially on July 3rd, that protrusion is a Snow Owl. We had a major irruption of Snowing this winter, but they should all have headed north in May at the latest. I don’t have any idea why this Snowy was still in Kennebunkport in July. These shots are again with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and the 75-300mm zoom. 600mm and 1200mm equivalent.

Beyond the Movie House you climb a little hill onto the headland of Cape Arundel proper, and the view of the Atlantic opens out. There are still a few secluded benches to let you know you are still on Parson’s Way. I could not resist putting the great depth of field of the 12mm Touit to work

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12mm ZEISS Touit f2.8 on the Sony NEX 5T.

As you begin to decend slightly from the headland toward the head of Sandy Bay, Walker’s Point comes into view. It was always a beautiful spot, and people pulled off the road there to view Blowing Cave…a water spout at the right tide…but Walker’s Point is the summer home of George Bush senior and his wife, Barbara Walker Bush. With 2 Bush Presidents, the overlook became so popular that the town “improved” it with pull-out parking for a number of cars, and then installed a memorial to George Bush Senior on the rocks above Blowing Cave.

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George Bush Memorial with Walker's Point and the Bush compound in the background.

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Walker's Point over Beach Rose

Turning to go when found a common Southern Maine butterfly in an uncommon setting.

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Pearl Crescent in a sunflower. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 600mm equivalent.

On the way back we ran into a few song birds. Lots of Song Sparrows singing along the cliff top and a few Cedar Waxwings.

Finally we stopped once more at Spouting Rocks to catch the interesting sky as the storm came in over the ocean, the rocks, and the Rose bushes.

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Old Fort Point and St Anne's as the storm came in. Touit 12mm f2.8 on the Sony NEX 5T.

All the landscapes were processed for HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet. The shot of St Anne’s had some perspective corrections in Photo Editor by dev.macgyver, also on my tablet. The wildlife shots had standard processing in Snapseed on the tablet.

Cape Arundel and Parson’s Way always have a lot to offer. It is not a long walk, but an ideal photoprowl :-)