We spent all morning on the Friendship V whale-watching boat out of Bar Harbor on a pelagic birding trip as part of the Acadia Birding Festival
. We cruised way out into the Gulf of Maine past four different islands with lighthouses on them, including Petit Manan, which is part of the Maine Coastal Islands NWR. The island was a chaotic mass of terns and gulls in the air and on the rocks, screeching and crying shrilly, and in the water, flotillas of puffins, razorbills, guillemots, and murres. How the interns who live on the island don't go insane from that constant noise is a mystery, but the sheer dynamic swirl of life out on these nesting islands is awe-inspiring--especially when you consider that these birds are creating life on virtually bare rock, their nests just tiny hollows along a bleak shore.
|Gulls near Egg Rock|
After a hot shower and lunch, I had to rush off to guide my afternoon field trip at Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden in Northeast Harbor. While the flowers seemed a little ahead of last year, with many of the azaleas and rhodos gone by, there were still breathtaking patches of blooming beauty--a fire-red azalea that looked like it was flickering, a virtual burning bush; apple trees still laden with white blossoms; these allium poking up amid ferns:
|Allium with ferns, Thuya Garden|
|Rhododendrons, Thuya Garden|
What moved me the most, though, were not the stunning flowers and the Japanese aesthetic of Asticou, nor the mix of cultivated and wild at Thuya, which is tucked into a forested hillside, fenced in like the Secret Garden. It was a female redstart on a nest right near a trail, the little warbler startling off it every time someone walked by, chipping nearby with obvious agitation. Why would she choose that spot? Was she drawn to a view of the flowers? Will her eggs survive all the disruptions? Is she any better off than a tern laying her eggs on bare earth, at the mercy of the gulls?
|Can you see the redstart nest (sans bird) in the center of this bush?|
Startled off her nest,
the redstart chirps in distress--
so precious, each egg.