Outdoors Bloggers

A little gull in the water.

Birding on the ocean isn’t for weak stomachs

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on Sept. 17, 2015, at 3:08 p.m.
I am not clueless. I realize that most readers love to learn about the everyday birds around them, and when I write about unusual, hard-to-see, not-in-my-backyard birds, I can hear the groans coming from neighborhood homes. Let the groans begin. Today’s column is about ocean birds. Last Saturday, Maine Audubon …

And they’re off! Migration season is underway

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on Sept. 12, 2015, at 9:20 a.m.
It’s normal for songbirds to begin leaving Maine as early as mid-August. Not this year. They bided their time until the weather changed.
Black-legged Kittiwake.

Gulls may bore birders, but their sheer numbers are impressive

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on Aug. 28, 2015, at 7:34 a.m.
“Go west, young man,” Horace Greeley wrote in 1865, and I approve. That will make things less crowded for me Down East, which is where I am going. The upper coast of Washington County is terrific any time of year, but September is magical. Head Harbor Passage, the channel between …

Eagle Lake one of the jewels of the Allagash

By matthew laroche on Aug. 14, 2015, at 9:23 a.m.
Known as Big Eagle by locals, Eagle Lake is 9,500 acres in size with a maximum depth of 124 feet. With outstanding conditions for fishing for brook trout, lake trout — also known as togue — and whitefish, the lake has beautiful, remote shorefront campsites scattered along the shoreline of …
Common Terns. The bird with the white forehead and open mouth is a juvenile begging from a parent.

There’s humor in young birds growing up

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on Aug. 14, 2015, at 7:28 a.m.
Now it’s just getting funny out there. Birds are in family groups and youngsters are chasing their parents all over. Others still are with their parents, but awkwardly foraging on their own, such as the baby magnolia warbler I saw this week that was all mouth and no tail. I …

17 years ago, my father died. I still feel his spirit in the wild birds that won’t leave my side

on Aug. 10, 2015, at 5:42 p.m.
Seventeen years ago this past Saturday, August 8th, my father spent his last conscious moments in this world. It was a Saturday just like this past Saturday, a beautiful August morning full of ripening blue berries, blooming sunflowers and all the perfection of Maine’s late summer. He’d been sick all …

Scott Jurek and Katahdin: Together at Last

on July 13, 2015, at 3:36 p.m.
Yesterday was a big day in Baxter State Park. Ultra runner Scott Jurek completed his 46 day 8 hour and 7 Minute epic hike/run of the entire Appalachian Trail, beating the previous supported speed record by a whopping 3 hours and 12 minutes. (I say whopping sort of in jest, …
Seen is a common murre.

Some birds just look funny

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on July 09, 2015, at 4:37 p.m.
Everything is a tradeoff. That’s why some birds look funny. Each species competes in a specific niche, and each has evolved special characteristics that enable it to survive in that niche. Some of these tradeoffs are extreme. Weird bills, long legs, goofy tails and unusual wings are a few of …

Scott Jurek’s speed attempt on the Appalachian Trail is a real Nail Biter

on July 09, 2015, at 10:54 a.m.
If you are interested in the outdoors, the Appalachian Trail and the Maine wilderness, and haven’t been following ultra runner Scott Jurek’s attempt to set a new speed record on the Appalachian Trail this month, you are missing out. The current definitive account circulating on line is from Outside Magazine, …
A baby Swainson's Thrush in Baxter State Park.

Birds, birds everywhere

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on June 26, 2015, at 7:23 a.m.
These are troubling times. I can use neither my front porch nor my rear deck. Eastern phoebes have taken over the front of the house. Mourning doves have wrested control of the rear. Their nest is directly over my favorite chair. To make matters worse, bat dung is collecting next …

The Herring Run, Maritime Canada’s Best Trail Race

on June 19, 2015, at 8:43 p.m.
It’s been all international all the time for me lately. First Iceland (which I am slowly writing about), and then, a couple of weeks ago, a quick overnight to Canada for the third annual Herring Run in Mascarene New Brunswick. And next weekend it’s right back to Canada (the French …
The range of the prairie warbler stretches from the southern tip of Florida to the 45th Parallel, but the birds are seldom seen north of Orono.

Birding in southern, northern Maine can be vastly different

By Bob Duchesne on June 19, 2015, at 9 a.m.
According to the birds, there are two Maines. Interestingly, the dividing line corresponds roughly to the 45th parallel — the latitude that bisects the Northern Hemisphere, halfway between the equator and the North Pole. In Maine, this line runs across the middle of the state, from Rangeley to Perry, placing …
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Even bird count failures can be fun

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on June 05, 2015, at 8:10 a.m.
Success makes a good story, but failure is much more interesting. Failure is a common theme whenever my birdathon team makes its once-a-year quest to find 130 birds in one day. This was the 16th year that the Cardinal Sins assembled at 2 a.m. to search for nocturnal birds. A …

Are we falling or flying?

on May 31, 2015, at 9:35 p.m.
The morning of our last day in Iceland, our bags were packed and sitting by the end of the bed, travel clothes piled carefully on top. My husband turned on his phone and I heard him exhale and darkly scoff. It got my attention and when I asked him what …

Woods Life Cravings

on May 31, 2015, at 1:43 p.m.
  Hello, all! I apologize for my absence over the last several months. I’ve been selfish with my time and have spent little to none writing. I appreciate all the emails from those of you who have checked in. We are still alive and well! After sharing our first year …

Your brain is evolved to go birding, even when you are not

on May 08, 2015, at 7:57 a.m.
Spring is such a sweet word here on the 44th parallel. All winter long we ache for it, and then suddenly it’s here, and it is a revelation each and every year. I recently read a memoir about living in Iceland (my next destination) and the author described the light …

How lights at the 1933 World’s Fair were turned on by a light from 1893

By Clair Wood on April 30, 2015, at 3:42 p.m.
What do astronomers mean when they say they are looking back into time? Let’s first look at an example here on Earth. Suppose you took a picture in a room filled with people on your cell phone. You then get in your car and drive 100 miles home at a …

To Galway, with love

on April 19, 2015, at 8:37 a.m.
It never ceases to amaze me, the way a physical sensation can trigger a memory etched into your brain and transport you through space and time to the other side of the world. A certain set of conditions, this light, that breeze, the way the air hits your face, a …
Cardinals are common in Maine now, but originally were limited to the southeastern U.S. It is the state bird of seven states.

Want more birds? Native plants in the yard attract bugs and birds

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on April 16, 2015, at 6:44 p.m.
I was very young when I first tasted spinach, but I had enough sense to spit it out. In fact, I let it drool down my bib and I threw it off the edge of the high chair so that my mother would fully understand my displeasure. At the time, …

Despite the snow, birds are coming back

By Bob Duchesne, Special to the BDN on April 10, 2015, at 7:16 a.m.
Spring snuck up on me this year, probably because I kept shoveling it out of my driveway for so long. There were 2 feet of snow on the ground as the first vulture passed over. Ice fishermen were in front of my house when the first blackbirds showed up. Thursday …