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.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens 7/21/2014

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In the Garden of the Five Senses

My wife Carol and I have visited the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Maine several times over the years on or around our anniversary. This year we were a few weeks later than usual, and we found that it made a significant difference in what was in bloom, and what was not. In early July the roses are still in full bloom…by our visit in the third week in July they were mostly past. The Day Lilies, of which there were many, and many different kinds, more than made up for the roses.

You can find out all you want to know about the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens on their website, but the brief of it is that a group of mid-coast residents got together some 20 years ago and decided to create a world-class Botanical Garden on the coast of Maine. It was an ambitious and, frankly, unlikely project, but they have persevered. They hired some of the top landscape designers in the world to create the gardens, and have steadily expanded to today’s 270 acres. The result is a facility with enough to delight anyone who loves plants and gardens.

For this photoprowl I was carrying my full kit. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom for long shots…dragonflies, birds, etc. The Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 for the wide angle contextual shots and landscapes, and the Sony Alpha NEX 3N with ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro for getting close. I find that the the 75mm equivalent of the 50mm also makes a good short telephoto when I need one.

A highlight of this year’s visit was the number of insects at work in the flowers. At times it seemed impossible to take a photo without getting a bug of some kind in the frame. If you press and hold on any of the images below the caption will come up. If you press or click quickly, the image will open in a larger view. The dragonflies are with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom, most at 600mm equivalent. Macros are with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro.

Of course part of the delight of the CMBG is the way the flowers are massed and mixed. For this set I used very lens I had with me. The Day Lilies are with the 12mm, the Daisies are with the 50mm Touit, and the massed yellow and pink are with the 75-300mm zoom.

One of my favorite sections of the CMBG is the Children’s Garden, where whimsy rules. They have a tiny section of bog plants at one end of an ornamental pond where the Pitcher Plants were in bloom.

And of course, any garden is going to attract it’s share of wildlife.

The Hillside Garden, with its Weeping Spruce trees, always has something to offer. The Stonecrop was in bloom, and we found a Spiderweb in the trailing yew covered in dew. All taken with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro.

One of these years I plan to get to the CMBG in June when the Rhododendrons and Azalea are in bloom. The section of the garden, at the far end of Birch Alie is always one of the more attractive spots. That is my wife Carol sitting on the shaded bench beyond the ornamental waterfall. The wide angle shots are in-camera HDRs, with further processing for HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet.

We will finish up with a rather random selection of flower close-ups from around the garden. I am not sure what some of these plants are :-) With the kind of abundance the CMBGs offer it is hard to keep track. These are all with the Sony Alpha NEX 3N and ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro.

If you are in the mid-coast region of Maine, make a half day stop at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. You will not regret it :-)