The Acadia Birding Festival is Maine’s premiere bird watching festival and was established in 1998.
This year, the Festival is from 28-31 May, plus two post-festival trips on 1-2 June, and over these days it visits 27 different birding locations.
For ourselves, the main Day One trip was to Indian Point Blagden Preserve – a path through mixed woodland leading down to the beach at the N.W. corner of Mount Desert Island and the Acadia National Park.
Our list of warblers seen included: Ovenbird, American Redstart, Northern Parula, and Black-and-White, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Blue & Black-throated Green Warblers.
Other species seen included Common Loon, immature Bald Eagles, Hairy Woodpecker (at nest), Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin and Dark-eyed Junco.
Species heard but not seen included: Mourning Dove, Eastern-wood Pewee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Winter Wren.
And the guides for this event? Well, there’s a whole truck-load of experts – too many to mention by name – but they are headed up by two internationally-known names: Ken Kaufman, inter alia the author of several excellent books about birds, and David la Puma, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory in New Jersey.
But for now, I’m just looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings!
Vosburgh Swamp is a Wildlife Management Area administered by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation [NY DEC] and the entrance is literally within stone-throwing distance of the right/west bank of the River Hudson, just north of Athens, NY.
I first found out about Vosburgh from the 1981 book, ‘Where to Find Birds in New York State’, by Susan Roney Drennan and published by the Syracuse University Press. The book had been in print for over 20 years when I bought a copy at exactly half of its then-$25 cover charge, but despite it being ‘long in the tooth’ I got a great bargain!
In the book, the location is referred to as Vosburgh’s Marsh and was described back then as being “entirely on private land” and that “there [was] really no public access to the area.” Clearly, the change of ownership since that time is just one more thing for which we should thank the NY DEC. (See my recent post about Five Rivers, for example.)
It also states that the marsh/swamp “is an especially good place to bird in spring, when one can see and hear Great Blue, Green and Black-crowned Night Herons, Least and American Bitterns, a large variety of duck species, several rail species, Marsh Wrens, and marsh-breeding sparrow species.”
Perhaps surprisingly, virtually none of the bird species listed above were evident but I would certainly anticipate seeing and photographing at least some of them within the next few weeks.
One migrant that was very visible during my latest visit, though, was the Palm Warbler, always an enjoyable bird to watch as it returns north each year.
This was my first visit back to the swamp since all of the ice and snow melted in March and early April, and now, of course, spring is starting to show itself, especially in the form of tree buds.
A few Rue Anemones were in flower, some with their green leaves still unfurling despite the flowers being wide open. A good clue to their identity is the three-lobed tip of each leaf.
During the walk, I saw my first Spring Azure butterfly of the year (but not close enough or static enough to get a shot of). I did, however, manage to get a shot of a tiny, fast-flying micro moth that was considerate enough to pause for just a few seconds, within range of my lens.
As much for fun and a challenge as for the potential images, I also enjoy photographing the insects that Americans call water striders and the British call pond skaters. The ones I found at Vosburgh were members of the Gerris genus (of which there are about 20 species in North America). The one in question had what appeared to be an olive- or green-coloured thorax but beyond that fact I have no idea of its precise identification. (Anyone who can put me right, please submit a comment, and the same request applies to the above photo of the micro moth, too.)
Water striders, being insects, have three pairs of legs although from a distance it looks like just two pairs. The front pair are kept tucked up, beside the head, almost praying mantis like, and as this pose suggests they are used to grab and hold the smaller insects that form the striders’ prey. The middle pair of legs are used to ‘row’ the strider along and the hind pair are used to steer. The speed at which they can catapult themselves forwards and change direction has to be seen to be believed.
Also present in some of my Water Strider photographs were what appeared to be dark grey springtails (Collembola sp.), which are hexapods, not insects.
Photographically-speaking, I am also getting more used to the Canon equipment I’ve recently added to my armoury: A 7D Mk2 camera together with the newly redesigned 100mm-400mm zoom lens and a 180mm macro lens, all of which are performing brilliantly.
To end my afternoon at Vosburgh, I couldn’t resist a shot of a rather pleasing reflection of trees.