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.

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 :-)

Saco Heath 7/1/2014

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Sheep Laural still in bloom along the boardwalk, ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8, Sony NEX 5T

Saco Heath is a remnant Peat Bog, the southern-most in Maine, near the town of Saco. It is owned and managed (and protected) by the Nature Conservancy. For many years there has been a trail in through the wet woods and a boardwalk across the bog itself. Over the past 2 summers, a Volunteer America grant and matching funds have rebuilt much of the bog section of the boardwalk. In early spring the Rhoda and Sheep Laural blooms along the boardwalk. In July you look for Pitcherplant and bog orchids. In August the high-bush blueberries are ripe and bird life is at its peak. In Autumn, the trees and bushes take on color. It is a wonderful place in any season.

On July 1st, I drove up to the Heath in mid-morning and spent a few hours walking the boardwalk and the trails. I was carrying the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom, the Sony NEX 3N with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro, and the Sony NEX 5T with the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8.

Right out of the parking lot is one of my favorite stretches of forest in Maine. It is a wet forest, with lots of lush ferns and undergrowth, and short sections of boardwalk of its own to keep your feet dry as you hike into the bog, and it is always full of life.

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Entering the Preserve through the wet forest. ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8, Sony NEX 5T.

Most of the shots in the slide show are with the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8. The obvious macros are with the ZEISS Touit 50mm macro.

Once you reach the bog, things open out. This is a authentic Peat Bog, formed when Peat (mostly decayed Sphagnum Moss, but also a variety of other wetland plants) fills in a glacieral pond. The Peat in the Saco Heath is hundreds of feet deep, and completely saturated with water. The super-acidic environment favors only a few plants besides the moss. There is an excellent Nature Conservancy brochure here.

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Pitcherplant. The cups fill with acid water and trap insects with dissolve to feed the roots.

The Pitcherplants were well grown and in flower, but the flowers were a bit past their prime. When they rebuilt the boardwalk (a very necessary improvement) the Pitcherplants nearest the boardwalk had to be sacrificed, but there are still some within reach of a telephoto. These shots (including the one above) are with the 75-300mm zoom on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 at 600mm and 1200mm equivalent.

The Rhodora of the spring are were well past on the first of July, but there were still a few Sheep Laural plants in bloom.

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Sheep Laural along the boardwalk. Sony NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8.

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Still with the 12mm.

The other plant in bloom on the Heath on the first of July was one of the bog orchids…probably the most common in Maine…the Rose Pagonia. The panel that follows is a mix of telephoto macros with the OM-D E-M10 and conventional macros with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro.

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Rose Pagonia. Telephoto and conventional macros.

And for a sense of the plant in its environment, a shot with the 12mm Touit.

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Wide shot of the Rose Pagonia as you would see it from ground level in the bog.

Of course there is more than plants to Saco Heath. Common Yellowthroats were singing all over the bog, and a Roufous-sided Towhee was “drink your tea tea tea”ing from the top of a Jack Pine. Song Sparrows sang from the lower limbs of the Pines. All of these shots are with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom at 600mm and 1200mm equivalent.

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Common Yellowthroat. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom.

I am sure this will not be my only Photoprowl at Saco Heath this year. Stay tuned for more.