Be forewarned, this is a big post with lots of images!
As mentioned in my previous post, the majority of our excursions occurred in the Maine North Woods. The North Woods is a sparsely populated region of Maine and covers over 3.5 million acres of forest and is bordered by the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick. The region is used mainly for timber as well as hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities. The complex ownership pattern is a combination of private individual, private industrial and public interests. The North Maine Woods website http://www.northmainewoods.org has a variety of maps of the region, some of which show the extensive network of roads that have been created. In order to control the increased recreational traffic including visitors like us, the association of landowners have established a number of checkpoints where fees are paid for entry.
Some years ago, an interest group that includes scientists, educators, environmentalists and celebrities proposed that as much as 3.2 million acres of the North Maine Woods be turned into a national park to protect the heart of the largest undeveloped forest in the eastern United States. http://www.mainewoods.org
The roads are wide and straight and I assume normally well-maintained although during our rain-drenched visit, potholes were the norm. The normal mode of transport on the gravel roads were pickup trucks and we only saw 2 cars, both Subaru’s and 3 SUV’s (ours). I was very pleased that the Tiguan handled the bumps with ease and without any ill-effects. The North Woods of Maine was reminiscent of my time in Northern Ontario which I imagine by now has its own extensive logging road network that is traversed by trucks and those seeking recreational activities.
Of course we were there to see the birds and during the last 3 days we still managed to see and photograph a good variety of warblers and other species that prefer to inhabit the boreal forest.
The Blackburnian Warbler is one of the most colourful with its vibrant fiery orange throat in combination with its contrasting jet black wings and white wing bars and belly. This high-canopy-dweller prefers mature coniferous and mixed coniferous/deciduous forests feeding on spiders and insects.
The Nashville Warbler regularly sings from the treetops but nests on the ground. The Nashville Warbler is easily identified from other warblers by its complete white eye ring.
One of the smallest warblers is the Northern Parula. This warbler of the upper canopy uses old man’s beard lichen for its nests and feeds on spiders and many kinds of insects, particularly caterpillars.
The Black-throated Blue Warbler breeds in mature deciduous and mixed coniferous-deciduous woodlands with a thick understory. Its strikingly patterned plumage makes it one of the easiest warblers to identify.
The handsome Magnolila Warbler with its black mask is also an inhabitant of the northern forests. Its name comes from an orthithologist who collected a specimen from a magnolia tree in Mississippi in 1810. It has a black necklace similar to the Canada Warbler.
The Canada Warbler with its yellow eye-ring and black necklace is one of the last warblers to arrive on breeding territory and one of the first to leave. The Canada Warbler is thought to be monogamous and breeding pairs stay together year round.
The aptly named Black-and-White Warbler hunts for insects up and down tree trunks and limbs similar to a Brown Creeper. Its song is similar to a squeaky clothesline wheel.
The Golden-crowned Kinglet is a speedster in the boreal forest presenting a significant challenge to photograph. The Kinglet is barely larger than a hummingbird.
I have seen Palm Warblers before but never on breeding territory and did not realize how handsome they are with their rusty-caps and warm yellow chest and belly. The Palm Warbler is easily recognized by its constant tail-wagging. It breeds in the bogs of the boreal forest.
Finally, another one of our target birds, the Bay-Breasted Warbler. Seeing one would mean an addition to my life list, photographing one would be anti-climatic. Matthew worked very hard to find one for us and in his past research trips he was able to find them fairly easily on the Golden Road where we had traveled a couple of days before and struck out. Judd had found another potential location closer to Greenville and as it turns out, the breeding territory of the Bay-breasted Warbler. The colouring of the Bay-breasted Warbler with its varying shades of chestnut brown make it very easy to identify if you are fortunate enough to see one. The population of the Bay-breasted Warbler increases with outbreaks of the Spruce Budworm and it is believed that our control of the destructive insect is contributing to its population decline.
All in all, this was a great trip. I made new friends, learned more about photography and got some terrific images. I am looking forward to joining Matthew again in the future.