Archive for the ‘blackberries’ Tag

08-20-2015 Journal–A Return to the Sanctuary!   Leave a comment

The Dog Days of August are upon us with all of the heat and humidity that they bring.  I’ve been staying fairly inactive due to the heat but it’s driving me crazy.  I just need to get the hell out of the house.

I decided to visit an old friend today. That’s the Wildlife Sanctuary in Scarborough, Maine.  Over the last five years I’ve spent a great deal of time there documenting the plants and wildlife.  I was driven to create a photo book of the place which took me two years to complete.  I was very proud of the result but knew all along it could be a double-edged sword.  My biggest fear was that people would read the book and then decide to visit the place in large numbers that might change things in the Sanctuary.  Unfortunately I was correct.

In past years the Sanctuary wasn’t visited all that much and remained a pristine place to monitor and photograph the wildlife.  In just two short years the place has dramatically changed.  Since the town received copies of the book, they’ve begun promoting the place.  The trails are now mowed to twice their original size and from all of the piles of dog feces, it’s becoming a dog park rather than a wildlife refuge.

Vandalism is evident in certain places with hints of teenage visitors from nearby high schools occasionally appearing. Most of the wildlife I initially photographed is now almost impossible to find.  They must have decided to leave the immediate area due to the increased human and canine traffic.

Here are a few photos I snapped as I made a casual walk-thru just looking for anything.

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‘The milkweed fields are as healthy as ever.’

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“Thistles continue to flourish.’

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‘Lots of elderberries available for use.’

The birds and squirrels are harder to find these days and even the deer seem to have moved on.  I decided to made a quick stop in the swamp, hoping for some dragonfly activity but even it was minimal.  In years past they completely filled the air over the swamp but that’s no longer the case.  I was hard pressed to get more than a handful of usable photo’s.

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I continued on to a second small pond looking for damn near anything.  Usually the place is overrun with frogs but I found just these two.

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There was a time when I could visit the sanctuary three times a week and never see another person.  Today there were three cars plus my own. A family with three small children and three dogs were running here and there while the parents picked blackberries nearby.  They spent part of their time trying to keep the dogs from attacking me, which I greatly appreciated. 

I’m sorry I ever made the book available to the public. I should’ve visited the Sanctuary, created the book for myself, and kept my mouth shut about it.  I may have helped ruin the place and that makes me sad.

08-24-2014 Journal Entry–Swamp Stomp!   Leave a comment

What does beautiful weather and a lack of humidity mean to you? To me it means a day in the woods and swamps with my camera and a gallon of bug spray.  This summer hasn’t allowed me as much time as I’d like to roam around. We’ve been much too busy to take the time and I’m not at all happy about that. So today I decided to make time for a little of Mother Nature’s healing influences.

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I’ve been attempting this summer to collect as many photo’s as possible of the illusive dragonfly.  I packed up the car and made my way back to my favorite swamp for another attempt.  In years past there were a constant supply of dragonflies beginning in July and lasting until Labor Day.  This year has been quite a bit different possibly due to the higher than normal rainfall.  The number of dragonflies in the skies around our home has steadily increased over the last few weeks and I’m hoping for the best here in the swamp.

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As I arrived at the sanctuary I discovered a few vehicles parked around meaning other visitors in the area. Hopefully they’re here to pick black berries and aren’t stumbling around near the swamp scaring the wildlife away.  I cover myself in bug spray and head into the woods. The milkweed pods are in bloom in really large numbers this year. I’ve also noticed a much large number of thistle plants as well which always makes for interesting photographs.

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The closer I get to the swamp the more dragonflies I’m seeing and as I enter the swamp they’re everywhere.  I also notice that most of the ones I’m seeing are all the same color.  In a normal year I would see at least a dozen brightly colored variations but not today. 

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There are a few mallard ducks flying around but they refuse to sit still long enough for me to get a few photo’s.  They seem a little jumpy which could mean a few visitors had been in the area before my arrival.  I stumbled into an area with a large cluster of dragonflies so I stood perfectly still and waited for them to come around to check me out. This was my best picture of the day. This guy was a rather small specimen who’s actual size was only about an inch and a half long.

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Since the selection was somewhat limited I decided to move on to a secondary swamp located nearby that usually has large numbers of frogs and turtles.  I hope to find a little more activity there.  It’s unusually quiet today which can only mean previous visitors which for me isn’t a good thing. I arrive in the area and there’s no wildlife activity at all except for this stupid frog.  No dragonflies, one frog, and no turtles.  I decided to call it a day and began my trek back to my car.  It seems today was a wasted trip.

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As I made my way along the trail I came upon that group of visitors. They were all clustered around my favorite blackberry patch filling up their containers.  It appears a number of new people have stumbled onto the patch which translates to less berries for me and my better-half.  We’ll need to stop by in a few days and hopefully collect enough berries to make our usual batch of summer jam. 

We shall see.

06-29-2014 Journal Entry – Hiding in the Woods!   Leave a comment

Do you ever feel the need to get away, to hide from the world, or to avoid the people you care most about?   It happens to me periodically for no apparent reason and at odd times.  I normally just disappear from the house proper and take refuge in my man-cave but that doesn’t work as well as it once did. It seems that other people, including a rather inquisitive grandson have figured out my secret hide-away. When  that happens my last resort is to take my camera and head for the woods.

Yesterday was one of those days when the better-half was working and I was tired of gardens, gardening, household fix-it jobs, and the occasional unexpected telephone call.  I told no one where I was going, packed up my gear, turned off my cell and hit the road.   It was hot and humid and I didn’t care at all if anyone knew where I was going.  After arriving at my destination I parked my car, sprayed myself from head to foot with bug repellent, grabbed my camera and disappeared into the woods.  It’s one of the reasons I love living in Maine.  There are more woods here than I could ever visit in my lifetime.

I’ll give you a short walk-along as I made my way through a number of trails, two swamps, and my favorite blackberry patch. The bugs were out in large numbers but the repellent kept most of them at bay.  Since this Spring has been a wet one the woods are lush and green.  I didn’t walk twenty feet before I discovered these wild daisies.

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I found a patch of these smaller yellow flowers as well and I have no idea what they are or where they came from. I do know they’re very delicate and love being photographed.

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The trails are over grown in places and it was dead quiet. I visit this spot every so often because there are so few people who even know it exists.  It’s just me, the bugs, and the occasional wildlife visitor. 

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I was especially interested in visiting the swamps.  It’s a little early for the dragonfly population to be booming but I thought I’d check it out anyway. I’m fascinated by them and have hundreds of photos in my files.   Unfortunately the swamps today had almost no dragonflies at all. I found that a little unusual but I’ll try again later in July when it gets a little warmer.  As I neared the first swamp I saw this wild Iris just sticking up out the water all by lonesome.

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A  few steps further on and I almost stepped on this bull frog who was hiding in the weeds near my feet.  He refused to move so I took immediate advantage.

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I made my way a short distance to the edge of the Scarborough River and Marsh.  It’s a thousand acres of a fresh water marsh with a water connection to the open ocean.  Beautiful scenery as far as the eye can see.

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I followed anther trail that took me along the river and then inland to a second swampy area.  Again no dragonflies just another big fat bull frog who refused to look my way.  He sat quietly and gave me the cold shoulder until I left the area.

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I decided to make my way back to my vehicle and along the way check out my favorite blackberry patch.  Over the years this patch has supplied my better-half and I with dozens of jars of delicious jam that is to die for.  It’s a huge patch as you can see and it is loaded with berries that should  begin ripening in big numbers in a month or so.

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That was a photo of the patch but here’s one of the berries I intend to pick and eat in a few weeks.  I can’t wait to make more jam and freeze a few quarts of those big fat berries for use on my morning cereal.  There’s nothing better.

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I headed home with a few dozen photo’s and a better outlook on life. Being in the woods has always supplied me with that clarity of thinking that’s so important.