Archive for July, 2014

A Trip to the Edge of the Continental Shelf

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Sunrise on the Continental Shelf

This past weekend was spent at sea with friends on a pelagic (off shore) trip out of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  We left at 1:00 a.m. and traveled out about 100 miles to Hydrographer’s Canyon which is on the edge of the Continental Shelf.  This canyon (named for the research vessel that first explored it) cuts 11 miles into the edge of the shelf and is 3.5 miles wide at its mouth.  The Canyon is a hotspot of biodiversity, something I experienced first hand.  When we approached the edge of the shelf the sea temperature was about 54º.  At the Canyon, the color of the water changed dramatically, the sea temperature rose to about 72º and I peeled off layers as the air warmed to a very comfortable temperature.  The theory is that this temperature change is caused by what are called Gulf Stream Rings which break off from the Gulf Stream and are channeled into the area when the Gulf Stream passes over a line of sunken extinct volcanoes called the New England Seamount Chain.  [For a better explanation of all this, check the link I provided above.]

So what did we see?  Five species of Shearwaters, four species of Storm Petrels, Long-tailed Jaegers, Fin Whales, two species of dolphins and pods of porpoises.  I got four life birds, according to eBird!  The bird species changed from cold water specialists (like the Sooty Shearwater) to warm water or tropical specialists (like Audubon’s Shearwater) as we entered the canyon.

These Wilson's Storm Petrels pattering over the water reminded me of puddling butterflies with their delicate movements.

These Wilson’s Storm Petrels pattering over the water reminded me of puddling butterflies with their delicate movements.

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American Bitterns Nesting in Connecticut

Parent American Bittern seeking frogs.

Parent American Bittern seeking frogs.

Yesterday we went with a friend up to Sherman, Connecticut to see the nesting American Bitterns that have been reported at Wimisink Marsh Preserve.  This is very exciting for Connecticut birders as these birds are endangered here and it has been many years since they have been observed nesting in the state.  We walked down their lovely, new wheelchair accessible boardwalk and saw one of the adult birds right in front of us, fishing for frogs (of which there many if you go by all the booming calls).  A brief search disclosed the three chicks, now half the size of the adult, hunkered down on a large reedy hummock in the marsh.

One of the big, fluffy chicks.

One of the big, fluffy chicks.

I’m trying a new digiscoping technique, (which involves attaching a camera to my scope) and these are the best of the pictures of the bitterns.  It’s clear I need a lot of practice, but I’m hopeful of better results soon.

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First Chanterelles of the Season!

Here's the initial haul, unadulterated and ready to be cleaned.

Here’s the initial haul, unadulterated and ready to be cleaned.

Facebook friends will know that we found Chanterelles on our morning walk around Ocean Point, here in East Boothbay.  I just happened to notice them along side the road and then we checked some of our secret spots from previous years and found enough for a lovely mushroom tart, which we had for supper (having gorged ourselves at lunch at a local restaurant with one of our neighbors…shhh!)  I can’t begin to say how satisfying it is to enjoy something foraged from the wild.

 

After cleaning, we had about $20.00 worth, if you could even find them in a store.

After cleaning, we had about $20.00 worth, if you could even find them in a store.

Here's the tart.  I used frozen puff pastry and a simple mixture of the mushrooms, Vidalia onions, Swiis and Parmesan cheese, chopped dill and a dash of vermouth.

Here’s the tart. I used frozen puff pastry and a simple mixture of the mushrooms, Vidalia onions, Swiis and Parmesan cheese, chopped dill and a dash of vermouth.

Yum!!

Yum!!

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