Monday, May 2, 2016

RI, MA & ME... It's a long one. Grab some snacks!

We've been enjoying a lot of walks in the woods and down near the water lately.  Can't complain.  As one of us commented today, "Yet another wonderful walk in the woods."  To which the other replied, "Yup, it doesn't suck."

One could say that the scenery we've been filling our time with for the last month is all pretty similar.  However, within that scenery, we've discovered a lot of new things.

                           This Morning Cloak Butterfly is one of them.

Funny thing is, we find that most people do not 'see' such things. 

The other day we were touring a National Wildlife Refuge and kept passing the same woman, like ships in the night. 

Eventually, she stopped and asked us if we were researching something?  We told her, "No, we just happened to dress alike today" (we both had our National Park Service volunteer jackets and our NPS hats on). 

She replied, "Oh, no. it was just that you were looking here and looking there and even taking pictures of the ground." 

At that point we laughed and said, "No, we were just taking a photo of a small moth we had never seen before." 

Her reply, "All hope is not lost then."


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This is the moth that so distracted us into taking pictures of the ground.  The Grapevine Epimenis Moth.  Worth the distraction for that beauty!

The flip side to that story is the day we were at an Audubon site enjoying the quiet and the myriad of birds and other things the natural area had to offer when we struck up a conversation with a lunch-time birder. 

In the middle of talking, she became distracted by a butterfly because she thought it was one she hadn't seen before.  Initially she thought she might need to apologize for her distraction.

But then she realized we had followed right after her and were looking for the butterfly as well.

There is the big picture (like this wonderful lake at an Audubon Preserve in Massachusetts that we spent several hours near)


and then there are all of the little things that make up the big picture (like this Clover Looper Moth).

         We most definitely appreciate the little things.

The Cedar Waxwing is one of those things.  These birds had been on Nicole's 'Gee I'd like to see that' list for a good while.  We finally saw them in Savannah, GA but never got a photo.
These were taken at Ninigret NWR in Rhode Island.

   They are quite spectacular with the subtlest of details.

    Speaking of subtle... Do you see someone peering at us from beneath the twigs?
        NOTE:  We've just found out this is a Southern Bog Lemming.  Pretty cool!

                 One of the best shots we've gotten of a Downy Woodpecker.

At Trustom Pond NWR we were excited to spot our first ever Purple Finch (a female so none of that purple finch color).

This Eastern Towhee was pretty excited about the seeds someone had put on this rock.
We thought it was pretty cool that we could observe him so closely.

Before departing Rhode Island we took a brief walk on Blue Beach.  Considering the temperatures we were experiencing that day, the name was definitely appropriate.  We had to get reacquainted with our thermals and even then still could not stay out for but a few minutes!

Oh, while we were there we saw a Mink but it scurried away before we could gather our frozen fingers around the camera.

         Back at the Waseeka Audubon Sanctuary we enjoyed the Tree Swallows.

                   These two beautiful guardians were preparing for their little ones.

As we watched all of the Palm Warblers play in the Pine Trees we joked that the poor things were probably confused.

They weren't the only ones.  Nicole snapped a shot of one she assumed was just lighter in color but in the end it turned out to be...

          our first ever sighting of a Pine Warbler.  Another for the Lifer List!

At some point, we moved on to Assabet NWR.  We toured it as the sun was setting and it was alive.

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                                 The Red-winged Blackbirds were calling.

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                                       Great Blue Herons were fishing.

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               Canadian babies were getting ready to test their independence.

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As we gazed at these little cuties we struck up a conversation with a woman who seemed to know a lot about the refuge.  We eventually went our separate ways but upon spotting us again in the parking lot she asked if we were coming to the wildflower talk that evening. 

We like wildflowers and learning and the talk was starting in just 15 minutes so we jumped at the chance.

Boy were we happy that we did.  What a wonderful presentation it was by the very knowledgeable and passionate about botany "Go Botany!" Elizabeth Farnsworth. 

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We learned so much in a short period of time which sparked a rousing conversation between us as we drove to our spot for the evening.  The conversation continued to the next day as we realized that she had reignited our interest in the importance of native plant species, the impact (or sometimes lack there of) from invasives and the overall importance of plants with regards to other species that need to co-exist with them.

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                            At Parker River NWR on Plum Island in Massachusetts,

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               a wonderful spot with both bay and beach only a few hundred yards apart,

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                         we had some common encounters (Song Sparrow)

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                   and some not-so-common encounters (Turkey Road Block).

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                  We also spotted a new-to-us bird, the American Black Duck.

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Although we didn't see a Northern Yellow-Shafted Flicker, we did find some of their feathers on the beach.

IMG_0224 (102)It was downright frigid on the beach where these Arctic Faring Brant Geese were enjoying the familiar feel.

You'll notice we've not mentioned NH.  Other than a quick visit to and walk around Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newington, we really didn't spend any time there.  Nicole has lived in the state on three previous occasions and we had a nice long visit there a good while back.

So, on to Maine we went.

We entered on a drizzle and cloud filled day but the coastline still held a classic appeal.


We walked along the sandy and sometimes rocky shorelines of three different areas.

                            We spotted a new-for-us bird called a Common Eider.

                                          The males are quite showy.

                  We got a kick watching the seagulls bathing in the shallows.

The rain wasn't letting up and is scheduled for the next several days so we said goodbye
to the coast and headed inland to Wally World where we will rest up and make some plans
to give Annie a little attention. 

Our girl turns 28 years young this month and apparently wants some new parts for her Birthday!

We'll leave you now with this wonderful saying we found painted on a rock down near the ocean...

                                                   p.s., We've got both!