Friday, September 11, 2015

August 19: Little Egrets and Big Fog

After securing our morning coffee at White MountainCoffee, we thought it would nice to spend the next few years sitting at stop lights.  “Live free or Die” is the state motto for New Hampshire. I would suggest that the engineer who timed the light cycles misinterpreted it: it is more like “Sit here and Die.” 

The next destination (a few hours away) was a seaside marsh in Maine. Scarborough Marsh, to be exact.  In fact, to be even more exact, it would be Scarborough Marsh: the home of a Little Egret for most of the summer. The operative word there would be most….

The Little Egret is basically what you might think it should be: an egret that’s little. Staggeringly similar to the Snowy Egret, this bird would be easy to overlook.  Black bill, black legs, and yellow feet are the traditional field marks.  Separating the two involves looking at the specifics of the lores (the skin between the eyes and beak) and the plumes that grow from the back of the bird’s head. 

Well, it didn’t matter.  After walking hundreds of yards in the heat and steam to the location where the birds were being seen, the heat shimmer prevented the delicate observations needed to separate the birds to species.  The closest egret candidates were hundreds of yards out with the sun in the worst possible place.  Any hopes of securing Little Egret (a life bird) were shot in the butt.  The Peregrine Falcon taking swats at the abundant Least Sandpipers was nice, but not a Little Egret, right? So be it. Such is birding. 

To the best of my knowledge, the Little Egret was last seen a few days before our arrival so we have to consider that it was not even there. 

With temps now zooming past 100 million degrees, and lunch approaching, we pressed on to Portland. Gritty McDuff’s got the call and secured a milestone for Natalie: her first clam chowder.   A noted seafood-a-phobe, it was thought that REAL seafood along the Atlantic coast might be her ticket. It was.  While I am not a pro, that chowder was damn good.  

So was the beer.  Maine, like Michigan, is enjoying quite the microbrew scene.  They claim to be the place that set it all motion in the region.  Their Maine’s Best IPA is quite possibly that that – Maine’s best.  Outstanding.

A quick walk among the historic downtown, including the old brick streets, was worth it.  Like Saratoga, it was fascinating to just look at.  We secured the locally manufactured coffee mug that has been a part of my vacation for years.  It features the obligatory Maine lobster, as you would expect.

Leaving Portland, we found ourselves excited as we drove onto Mount Desert Island, the home of Acadia National Park.  Unfortunately, fog had obscured our views of this simply stunning landscape. The roads were fine, but the open waters were lost.  Camping reservations were botched. I did it right online but office staff double-booked the site.  Fortunately, another site was available. After the Massacre of Saratoga, I had to hide the hatchet.  There was no way I was going to let Natalie talk to the attendant…

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