Sunday, June 23, 2013

Moose Lottery - Greenville - 2013

Photographic tour of my favorite memories from the 2013 Moose lottery in Greenville, Maine. Photos were taken along the #4 Mountain trail and while entering and leaving the town of Kokajo, Maine.

Of course the REALLY BIG news is that Dad got drawn for a September bull tag in Zone 2, so look for more "MOOSE" stories to follow this Fall!!

Lost Somewhere in Middle of Nowhere
Wild Strawberries! Yum!
Trail Side Flower
Trail Side Flower - Part 2
Sign entering town of Kokajo, Maine
Close Enough Moose?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fort Point State Park - Photo Tour

Fort Point State Park, exists just a short drive off route one and provides the perfect palace for a family picnic. The beach provides kids with plenty of distractions, leashed dogs are welcome and a fishing pier exists to allow anglers to cast for mackerel, striped bass and blue fish! For more information on Fort Point State Park click HERE.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Partridge Nest

Two weeks ago while clearing out an overgrown area on the back of the property, I flushed a partridge along the field edge out of a cluster of tall grass, small raspberry bushes and twisted branches. Considering the time of year and fact that they small bird immediately began a fake display of being injured, I figured that there must be a nest nearby. A quick search and I was able to locate the small nest containing 6 eggs! This excited me for several reasons the primary being that partridge numbers on the property have been increasing dramatically in the last several years due to a few habitat projects I have been implementing. The secondary cause for my excitement was that I wanted to put a game camera near the nest to get some pictures. Below is a selection of a few of my favorites.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wildlife Quiz - American Bitterns

The American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), a marsh bird of the heron family, inhabits summer shallow freshwater wetlands across much of Canada and the northern United States. Winter migration, finds the Bittern primarily in the southern United States and Mexico. The Bittern averages a 3-foot wingspan, body weight of 1 pound and a tip of the beak to end of tail length of 2.5 feet. In comparison, the Bitterns well know larger cousin the Great Blue Heron, boasts a 6-foot wingspan and body weight of 8 pounds.

The Bittern’s feet appear oversized for its relatively diminutive body, however, like snowshoes function, the large feet allow the Bittern to walk across unstable marsh environments without sinking. A master of camouflage, both the male and female

Bittern boast plumage of tan feathers, accentuated by white, brown and black streaks, making it almost impossible to locate in the reeds and cattails of its favored habitats. When frightened, the Bittern points it’s bill skyward, making its head, neck and body mimic the marshy background.

American Bittern lay between 3-5 eggs that the female incubates for at least 24 days. Young usually leave the nest after about two weeks but are not able to fly for around a month and a half. Birdwatchers hoping to see a Bittern are more likely to first hear this elusive bird than see it. By arriving at a marsh at dawn or dusk and listen for the bitterns booming song, a loud snapping followed by a noise sounding like water dripping into a bowl from a leaky faucet, will help birdwatchers locate this sometime elusive avian.

In the United States, the destruction of wetland habitat has caused a marked yearly decline in the population of the American Bittern. Despite being protected, under the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, habitat loss is slowly destroying this species. The American Bittern’s survival depends on the preservation of wetlands and continued study of its biology and behavior.

Wildlife Quiz Questions: 
1. What is the wingspan of the American Bittern?
2. What is the range of the American Bittern?
3. Does the American Bittern inhabit Maine marshes?
4. What are the primary plumage colors of the American Bittern?
5. Can you determine males and female Bittern’s by sight?
6. When and where is the best chance to see the American Bittern?
7. Is the American Bittern protected?
8. What is the incubation period on American Bittern eggs?
9. How long after hatching are Bittern young able to fly?

Wildlife Quiz Answers: 
1. The American Bittern has a wingspan of approximately 3 feet.
2. The range of the American Bittern stretches from Canada to Mexico.
3. Yes, Maine hosts a population of American Bittern’s viewable by patient birdwatchers.
4. The primary plumage coloration of the American Bittern includes white, brown and black.
5. No, both the males and female Bittern share similar plumage, so determining sex by sight would be extremely difficult.
6. The best chance of seeing an American Bittern is by visiting freshwater marshes at dawn and dusk and listening for it’s strange song.
7. Yes, the American Bittern is protected under the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
8. American Bittern usually lay between 3-5 eggs.
9. American Bittern young are not able to fly for around a month and a half after leaving the nest.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bruiser Bass and Turkey Salad

Chasing Bruiser Bass
As water temperatures begin to slowly rise, bass become increasingly active. This leads to great fishing, with activity remaining steady up to the end of the summer. The combination of abundant forage and jacked metabolisms, make bass exceedingly voracious and they attack lures with contempt and struggle against lines with every ounce of their being. Angling excitement runs high, as aggressive strikes create watery explosions and hooked fish fly high into the air, in displays of astounding acrobatics.

Fishing for bass is all about location, find underwater structure and the bass will be there. While many waters may be fished from shore with success, reaching the best fishing spots requires breaking free from the crowded boat launches and accessing areas that see limited fishing pressure. All manner of large and small watercraft can be used to bass fish effectively, as long as care is taken to respect the anticipated weather conditions. Maine lakes are notoriously fickle and a beautiful day on the water can quickly turn life threatening. Depth maps and fish finders help anglers study bottom structure and locate fish but nothing quite compares to general firsthand knowledge of a lake or pond. Bright sunshine, calm water and polarized sunglasses, greatly facilitate the process of finding areas containing ambush cover for hungry bass. Locating beaver lodges, underwater weed beds, sunken logs and stumps, rocks, shoals, ledges, drop offs and submerged islands, will put you leaps ahead of other fishermen. Mark these areas with a GPS or write down locations and you will be served for years to come with fishing hotspots.

Fishing with friends, vastly increases the chance of finding that magic color and lure combination and allows the opportunity to locate bass faster by effectively covering more area with more lines in the water. Using a variety of different lures can assist anglers in finding combinations that strike gold so never be afraid to experiment and try something new. For the bass fisherman looking for a unique experience, try using live red fin shiners (3-4 inches), 2/0 hooks and large bobbers. This set-up is effective on both small and large mouth bass. For many, pitching a bobber and staring at it all day long is not going to prove to be the most exciting of fishing endeavors. For the search and destroy crowd, who like to cast, sluggos, blue foxes and terminator spin baits are all capable of eliciting brutal early spring reaction strikes. Fishing two poles, one for bobbing and one for casting, greatly maximizes your presentation by keeping two baits in the water at all times. This set-up allows you to fish live bait while a second line is cast and used to locate fish. This system is very effective anytime during the fishing season. *Please note that you are not allowed to keep bass in the state of Maine caught on live bait until after July 1st. Also until July 1, you are only allowed to catch and keep one bass, over 10 inches.

For a wild time on the water, try angling one of Washington County’s premier bass fishing destinations, Boyden’s Lake, found in DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 37, D-2. Anglers can expect to catch many fine large mouth bass in the 18-20 inch range, with fish over 20 inches occurring at regular intervals. While larger fish are always a possibility, extensive time and luck will be needed to find them. When fishing, please be sure to monitor and clean your lures, motor, anchors and boat trailers of the invasive underwater plant Milfoil. Milfoil has the potential to destroy many of Washington County’s premiere fishing destinations. Do you part and check for this evil little hitchhiker!

Turkey! It’s What’s for Dinner! 
All of your scouting and target shooting lead to the successful tagging of a nice tom turkey. Now with old tom resting comfortably in the freezer, what comes next? Basically in preparing your turkey dinner, hunters employ one of two processing methods. The first choice, involves the time consuming process of plucking the bird. In the end, the completed product will look like a skinny-miniaturized butterball turkey. This is a great option if your plans involve deep fat frying the entire bird in peanut oil or baking in a roasting bag for a thanksgiving dinner. The second choice includes the faster, more simplified process of breasting the bird. This involves using a sharp knife to slice a straight line down each side of the turkey’s breastbone and removing the meat from each side, in a process similar to filleting. The benefit of breasting is time, as it can be completed in about 10 minutes, as opposed to the plucking, which if done correctly, takes about 1 hour. Of course, the drawback to the breasting is that it sacrifices a significant amount of meat.

Wild turkey has a delicious “undomesticated” taste and can be prepared in a number of different ways from being breaded and deep fat fried to made into delicious turkey soups. Sometimes, older birds can be tough and require parboiling or a few minutes in the food processor to be reduced to an edible consistency. In these cases, I resort to my favorite all time turkey recipe . . .

Simple Turkey Salad 
2 cups of finely chopped turkey breast
½ cup of Mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 stalk of celery, chopped

*Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add paprika, garlic powder, finely chopped onion and dried red pepper flakes in accordance with individual taste and mix thoroughly. Put a few spoonfuls on toasted sour dough bread with a slice of tomato, leaf of lettuce and enjoy! Whatever the final processing and prepping decision, always make sure to honor your kill by using and not wasting as much of the usable meat as possible and sending little to the trash can!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tick Tock

Maine’s rapidly warming climate will eventually create large-scale issues and problems for its citizens the depth of which we can barely fathom. At this point, we are just beginning to see the first of these growing issues beginning to take shape. Even a small increase in world temperature and here in Maine we are seeing a “weirding” of the weather that includes heavier snowfalls, hotter summers and lakes experiencing ice out a full month shorter than two decades ago. The problem with Maine becoming hotter is that many of the insects that destroy crops and are harbingers of disease causing viruses and bacterium are no longer being killed by our winters. This fact is causing the normal system of natural checks and balances to no longer be functional. Additionally, invasive species, which would have previously perished in Maine’s environment, now find the state a very comfortable home.

As mentioned previously, the obvious implications this will have on Maine’s people is huge and to illustrate this critical point, we need to look no further than Ixodes scapularis or the common deer tick. It is difficult to now think of a Maine that at one time did not have infectious Lyme disease carrying deer ticks. Yet, only a few short decades ago finding a tick embedded in your skin would have been a rare event. Now, a simple walk outside on the lawn will typically have Mainers encountering ticks on almost every outing.

One bite from a tick carrying Lyme disease has the potential to completely destroy the health and well being of an individual and has even in some cases caused death. With one in four deer ticks carry Lyme disease, according to Jim Dill, pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, it is imperative that Maine residents are properly prepared to address the tick issue.

Being prepared, means Mainers must take the steps necessary to control the tick infestation and additionally protect the human population. Unfortunately, ticks are extremely resilient creatures and only able to be controlled on a very limited basis. Large-scale chemical insecticide spraying operations to contain their spread are both costly and widely ineffective. At this time, ticks have no known natural predatory enemies or host-specific pathogens that could be employed to increase their mortality rates, thereby decreasing their overall numbers. Ticks can be controlled with limited “residential” success by employing the use of guinea hens that are capable of eating ticks large numbers and controlling their spread on personal properties.

The alternative to the unachievable task of eradication is to keep ticks from coming into direct contact with human, pets and livestock. This seemingly impossible undertaking is supported by Maine’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Maine Medical Center Lyme Disease Research Laboratory who both recommend education, awareness and the implementation of personal preventative measures, as the primary methods of battling this invading arachnid. The Maine CDC and Maine Medical Center suggest tick avoidance, use of protective clothing, employment of a specialized tick repellent and daily tick checks, as the four primary means of decreasing the chances of a human/tick encounter. While Maine has taken many steps to ensure its population is educated on the dangers of tick borne contagions, many Mainers still do not take the steps necessary to properly protect themselves against the dangers of Lyme disease.

In order for Mainers to protect themselves, there needs to be a wide scale investment of education and research into this topic. Including continued education of the overall population, further testing and exploration into the use of a human Lyme disease vaccine and research into biological, chemical and tick specific pathogens. These multiple tiers of protection will perhaps offer a means of potentially slowing Maine’s infectious invaders in this new “hot” environment.
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