I feel, quite often, as if I live in a parallel universe, outside looking in, an alien to my surroundings. I live and work in an environment where the prevailing attitude, when it comes to wildlife, is, if it moves, shoot it or run over it with an ATV or other vehicle.
Getting out and about, in these parts, usually involves internal combustion, doesn’t it? Some folks have even gone so far as to express concern that their “traditional” access (spell that with an A, a T, and a V) might be compromised by this land deal or that.
It amazes me, too, that outdoor “traditions” have been born in my lifetime, especially in the last 10 or so years. We now have a “tradition” of ATV use and a “tradition” of snowmobile use presumably right up there with the “traditions” of mountain biking, BASE jumping, hang gliding, and the other “traditional” extreme sports invented in the last 10 or so years. Somehow, motor vehicles grinding up and through the woods doesn’t match any definition of traditional use that I can find, yet we devote an inordinate amount of legislative time and ink catering to the internal combustion set, don’t we?
I prefer to view live wildlife on the hoof or wing and I prefer to watch from a quiet vantage point. Show me a few deer grazing in a field and I don’t get an itchy trigger finger. Show me a flock of turkeys strutting across a field and I’ll grab my binoculars to get a closer look. Ducks bobbing on the ocean? Ditto. I’d rather observe than obliterate.
If that’s your preference, too, perhaps you’ll get a kick out of a project Dennis Smith of Otter Creek did recently for a property owner on Somes Sound. Smith manages a waterfront property. The son of the property owner came to him one day and suggested he build an osprey nest as a Christmas gift for his father. (There’s a request you don’t get every day.)
Smith – being a resourceful type – did some research (I think Google had a hand in it), learned what it is that osprey like, and set about building a 4-foot by 4-foot nest and platform he would mount atop a 40-foot pole. The pole would go near the water and not too far from a second-story bedroom window – eye-level, if you will, for the homeowners when they got out of bed in the morning.
He enlisted the help of Winkumpaugh Line Co. of Hancock. They arrived with their truck-mounted auger and boom to set the pole. That was in 2003. It wasn’t long before the new nest attracted a pair of osprey, but nearby construction work made the pair nervous and they opted to find a quieter neighborhood.
In the spring of 2004 a pair showed up to contemplate establishing residence, but the continuing nearby construction work discouraged them again. Then late in what you’d consider the osprey construction season of 2005 a pair showed up and went to work on the nest. By this time the neighborhood construction project was complete and things were quiet again. The feathered pair made the platform into a fine home, but didn’t get around to filling it with the pitter-patter of little beaks, Smith said.
By this spring, however, it was all systems go and the pair produced a pair of young. For the homeowner it was heaven on earth, the best Christmas present a son could ever give his father, Smith said of the family’s new winged neighbors. And once they had their nest established, there was no problem even mowing the lawn under the pole.
The ospreys provided a summer of intimate bird watching and enough success that Smith and Karen O. Zimmerman have started a business on the side to build nests for osprey and eagles. They’re in the book under Raptornests of Maine, check them out at P.O. Box 802, Northeast Harbor 04662, call 207-288-5457 or 288-4133, or you could go online at www.zzzinc.com/raptornests. Even if you’re not interested in having a pole installed, check out the great osprey pictures on the site.
NREC schedules free program
Are you interested in nature photography? The Natural Resource Education Center in Greenville is sponsoring a free program by Barbara Plummer on Thursday. The informal workshop will be held at 7 p.m. at the Community House in Greenville.
It includes an introduction to some basic photography principles and composition guidelines and will cover practical tips on how to improve your outdoor and nature photography, including props, clothing, focusing, and lighting. Plummer is owner of Northern Pride Lodge in Kokadjo and leads nature photography trips in the Moosehead region.
There is no charge but donations to NREC would be appreciated. For more information or directions call 695-3668 or check out their Web site at www.naturalresourceeducationcenter.org.
Salmon Spawning Spectacular
Friends of Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery is sponsoring Spawning Spectacular 2006 – a chance to learn how Atlantic salmon are artificially spawned at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery in East Orland. Best of all, it’s free!
Spawning demonstrations will be offered for the public at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. at the facility’s newly renovated Penobscot Atlantic salmon brood stock holding pools by Alamoosook Lake.
The Friends are also hosting many agencies, organizations, and groups – more than 20 of them – in the visitors’ center, out of the weather. They are working in partnership to improve the quality of our watersheds. Here’s an opportunity to meet, speak with, and learn of the programs and accomplishments these dedicated people and organizations are engaged in. They are making the difference in the quality of our watersheds, their habitats and wildlife, as well as the quality of human life!
The fun takes place on Nov. 5 from noon to 3 p.m. Craig Brook hatchery is located 1.3 miles off Route 1 in East Orland, on Hatchery Road. From Ellsworth take Route 1 South 13 miles. Watch for Duffy’s Restaurant on the right. Take the next right onto Hatchery Road (Toddy Pond will be seen on your left). From Bucksport take Route 1 North 5 miles to East Orland, take a left onto Hatchery Road just after the East Orland Post Office. Toddy Pond will be seen on your right. For more information, call Craig Brook NFH, 207-469-6701 extension 215.
Jeff Strout’s column on outdoor recreation is published each Saturday. He can be reached at 990-8202 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.