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.

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm : the bog side 7/2014

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Carol, my wife, and my youngest daughter, Kelia, on the bog boardwalk.

I have been visiting Laudholm Farm for the better part of 20 years, and until this month I did not know there was a bog on the property. How can that be? My wife and daughter first explored the loop of trails that includes the bog earlier this month, and I have been back twice to explore it myself since. From the age of the various sections of boardwalk on the trails this is not a new loop…just a neglected one as far as I am concerned. Besides the bog, the trails encompass the lower fields and meadows of the farm, sections of ferny forest, and an overlook on the marsh well south of the Little River.

You begin with a walk through a shaded aisle in a damp hardwood forest.

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Are there fairy rides in Maine. This certainly looks like one. Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8.

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Wild Iris along a small section of boardwalk in the fairy forest.

At the end of the Fairy Ride you make a sharp then and where onto the boardwalk across what I can only call a mini-bog. The whole thing is the size of a housing development from lawn, but is a true bog, complete with Sundew and at least two bog orchids.

Grass Pink

Pink Pagonia

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Round-leaved Sundew. Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 50mm macro

Sundew is of course a carnivorous plant. Insects get caught in the sticky hairs on the keaves leaves, the leaves partially close to catch them, and then acids in the plant’s sap dissolve the insect to provide nutrients. Round-leaved Sundew is one of the smallest Sundews.

Past the bog you quickly enter a stretch of forest and then the lower reaches of the meadows at Laudholm. On a good day this can be a great place for both birds and butterflies.

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Damp mixed forest

Where the trail turns sharply to the left there is a side trail leading out to the Marsh overlook.

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The marsh at he Southern edge of the Wells Reserve.

Eventually the trail comes out across from the boardwalk trail on the main trail down to the beach. It is easy to follow the boardwalk around to the meadows at the North-east edge of the reserve bordering the Little River. You never know what you will find. This Red-spotted Purple surprised us in the deep woods.

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Red-spotted Purple is one form of the Butterfly more commonly known as the White Admiral


I am certainly not done exploring the lower loop of trails at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm. I am certain there is more to see.

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm 6/28/2014

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Looking back at the Laudholm buildings form the rise. ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 on the Sony NEX 5T

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm is a public/private cooperation to preserve a historically and ecologically significant chunk of coast line, the upland behind it, and the watersheds that run through it to the sea from development, and make it available for ongoing research into environmental quality issues. It is one of my favorite places in my home area to visit, in any season of the year. This year my wife and I took part in a research project and received a membership as a reward, so we will be spending even more time there. These images are from a visit the last week in June. My kit this day consisted of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom, the Sony NEX 5T with the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8, and the NEX 3N with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro.

They have allowed the meadow beyond the farm buildings to grow wild this year, and it is full of Virginia Rose, Yarrow, and a variety of other wildflowers and grasses. It is also alive with Insect life.

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Virginia Rose, the most common of the native roses in New England and Maine

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Rose Chafer Beetle on Multiflora Rose, a sweet smelling Asian invader that has gone wild all over Southern Maine, Touit 50mm macro

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Mosquito on the tiny flowers of what might be Snakeroot, Touit 50mm macro.

Through the overgrown orchard at the top of the hill and down into the beginnings of the forest and the Indian Paint Brush is in bloom and also being visited by inaects: in this case a tiny Metalic Green Bee.

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Bee in the Paint Brush. Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 50mm macro.

I walked past the pond and out to the beach but there was not much going on. You walk through a section of typical Southern Maine beachfront cottages /summer homes between the pond and the beach, but the beach from here to the Little River and beyond is protected habitat. At the mouth of the Little there are nesting colonies of Least Tern and Piping Plover. Pearl Crescents were abundant on clove along the path by the pond.

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Pearl (or Pearly) Crescent butterfly. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 600mm equivalent.

When you head back from the beach you have the option of returning the way of came, taking the trail to the left out through forest and the lower fields and eventually across a mini-bog back to the farm, or the boardwalk trail to the right through wet forest and around to the fields that boarder the Little River. I chose the boardwalk. From the overlook on the boardwalk where you see the marsh and a loop of the Little, there were several Willits putting on a noisy show. You can see the effects of the heat shimmer rising off the exposed marsh in these shots.

Every year I photograph this shelf Mushroom, one of the largest I have seen anywhere and still growing. It is a ways off the boardwalk so it is always a telephoto shot.

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


Coming out into the fields and heading back up the hill to the farm buildings I came up on two her Turkeys and a nursery brood of chicks (poults). Again, the heat shimmer made focus difficult and limited the results.

I am sure I will be back at Laudholm Farm many times this summer. I have already explored a new trail (to me) that features the mini-bog and some lovely bog orchids. Watch this space for further Photoprowls at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm.