Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring 36: A Gift Day

Monday, April 25
5:30-6:45am, ocean by Blackwoods Campground;
8:00am-11:00am, Sieur de Monts, Beaver Pond and Precipice;
11:30am-2:30pm, the Beehive and Gore Mountain
Also: Thunderhole, Sand Beach, and various seaside rocks

It was an incredible first day at Acadia.

I kept feeling like I was the only person here - amazing considering it is one of the most popular national parks and gets almost a million visitors a year.

The chickadees woke me up, and I made for the ocean, just a short walk from my campsite. Sunrise was obscured by clouds, but gorgeous nonetheless from my solitary vista looking over the ocean and Otter's Cove. Not a single car passed on the nearby road. All this beauty, just for me?

Later, I took a short hike up the Beehive and Gore Mountain, with fantastic views of the Precipice Cliff, Sand Beach, the ocean and the islands. The sun came out full force, the sky was an astonishing blue, and at the summit of Gore Mountain it was so warm I stripped down to a T shirt! I had my pick of sunny granite-boulder perches to stretch out on, eat my lunch, and sunbathe, looking out at an incredible vista of ocean, cove, and islands.

Hello, Seagull.

Didn't encounter a single soul on the whole hike up, nor the summit, and in fact was under the impression I was the only human being on Mount Desert Island until I reached the end of my hike (and two other hikers). Amazing!

I'm in love with this mix of ocean and forested mountain that Acadia has going on. My two favorites in one.

Between my solo explorations, I met up with Park naturalist Angi King-Johnson, who was amazingly generous in sharing her vast knowledge of the flora, fauna and cultural history of Acadia as we walked around the Sieur de Monts spring area, Beaver Pond, and the falcon-inhabited cliffs of Precipice.

Can you imagine - having a nature expert to interrogate for three hours with all your burning questions?? It was a dream!

Plus, Angi has a talent as an "animal magnet". No sooner had she mentioned a pair of resident barred owls, then did the owl himself call out (Who cooks for you? is the common pneumonic).

Here are both owls a bit later (sorry, it's very faint):

We also heard a swamp sparrow, encouraged by Angi's "pishing":

and later that morning, a peregrine falcon, who was stunning to watch fly before the vertical sheer cliff-face of Precipice.

I also learned about "edge effect", beavers, coyotes, post-fire reforestation, trail history, the Jackson labs, mixed-species flocks, vultures versus bald eagles, and much, much more. Angi is an incredible ranger with encyclopedic knowledge, and I felt so lucky to hang out with her - what an amazing introduction to Acadia!

However, bird of the day goes to the Winter Wren, recorded at Sieur de Monts, who is incredible!

My sketches today came out of hanging out on some rocks by the ocean path, just me and two seagulls. One idea uses the frequencies and rhythm of the ocean waves hitting the shore; the other is based on the pattern of the pink slabs of granite rock.


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