Biology 1998 Road Trip - Northeast

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1998 Biology Field Experience:The Northeast  

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We set out on May 26 on a 2-week, 4,000+ mile odyssey to explore the flora and fauna of the Northeastern United States and Maritime Canada. Five souls and a lot of equipment were packed into an all-wheel drive GMC Safari minivan. We had everything we needed for our trip except for  Jesus hats and a Maine Gazetteer.

 

The long drive east:

 

We got a late start that first day, and it threw off our schedule from the start. We had planned to see Hawk Mountain (even after finding out that the hawk migration there is in the fall, not the spring), and the Rodale Research Farm, both of which are in eastern Pennsylvania. By the time we got to the area, however, it was clear that we didn’t have time to do justice to either of those sites. So, we pressed on.

Our only real educational stop that first day was to Sideling Hill, a road cut in Maryland where Interstate 68 cuts through a mountain. I guess they were so impressed when they were done they had to put up a visitor site. In any event, we got a good view of the geological phenomenon known as a syncline, where the mountain building process has folded the hill downward: 
  
  

 

 

  
Sarah, the only student along on the trip, got to break in her notebook. Well, we kept on driving. We had a hard choice. Anywhere we stopped now would have us driving towards New York in the morning, just in time for rush hour. We pushed on, driving around New York to Connecticut, where we finally found a hotel. 

 

Day 2 – To the Cape!

We got up early and hit a food store to stock the cooler, then enjoyed a picnic breakfast at a roadside rest in Rhode Island – our eighth state, and it was the morning of only our second day. We drove along the coast, crossing into Massachusetts (state 9) and headed out onto Cape Cod. Our first stop was Woods Hole, the site of the famous oceanographic institute (their submersible Alvin found the Titanic) and the equally famous Marine Biological Laboratory (the MBL – site of many famous discoveries in biology). We had enough time to see the aquarium and tour the town before heading back to our motel for the night. 
  

 

  Van #10 at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. 

Close-up of a lobster at the aquarium at Woods Hole. 

 
   

 

Day 3 – Down Home on the Cape.

We started the day with a pre-breakfast trip to the West Dennis beach, which is on the south side of the cape. We saw a variety of shorebirds, including gulls who would catch crabs and carry them up into the air, letting the crab go to fall back to the ground (and hopefully split its shell open). We also saw nesting terns, whose nests are fenced in to protect the terns from beachcombers (or is it to protect the beachcombers from the terns?). A walk along the beach gave us our first glimpses of marine life, including green fleece (Codium fragile). This chlorophyte was introduced to the region in 1957 and is found in the Cape Cod region. 
  

 

Codium fragile on the beach at West Dennis. 

  Birdwatching at West Dennis Beach. 

  
 

Our next stop was the home of Norton and Joan Nickerson. Norton (or Nick) was Dr. Tschunko’s botany prof at Tufts University. A specialist in mangroves, he had recently retired to his grandparents’ home on the cape. The house was built in the 1800’s, and the Nickersons have restored it and filled it with souvenirs from their world travels. After serving us a great breakfast, they showed us the many plantings in the yard – obviously it was the home of a botanist! Nick then accompanied us to a nature preserve on the north side of the middle cape. Here he showed us the various parts of a salt marsh, how to determine where the salt and freshwater parts of the marsh meet by looking at the plants, and explained the ecology of the sand dunes. We then moved onto the beach for more beachcombing. We found horseshoe crabs (both dead and alive), a variety of shorebirds, and some crabs. While we were there, local schoolchildren came through with their usual enthusiasm. With his normal enthusiasm, Nick began explaining the seashore and the dunes to the children; helping them dig up the roots of the dune grasses and showing them why they should remove their shoes lest they damage the fragile roots of the dune grasses. Candace, our ‘graduate’ student and Sarah went for a swim in what was likely to be the warmest water we would encounter until we crossed back over the Ohio River. As we headed back across the dunes, the sand, remarkably cool near the shore, turned incredibly hot. You could tell who the native was in our group. As we scampered madly to get back to the boardwalk where we could again don our shoes, Nick strolled casually along, pointing out some of the more interesting plants. 
  
From the beach, Nick took us to Stony Brook to see the alewife (herring) run. It was pretty much over this late in the season, but we did get to see a few – and watch some gulls trying to catch some of the remaining fish as they worked their way up a stone "fish ladder" to get to the shallow headwaters to spawn. We dropped Nick off at his house, and headed on to the Cape Cod National Seashore. At the bookstore we made several good finds. We got several of the Mac’s Field Guide series – laminated cards with pictures of northeastern coastal birds, fish, and invertebrates. I also found a copy of my friend Scott Weidensaul’s book Seasonal Guide to the Natural Year a month by month guide to natural events, New England and New York. The book proved valuable in plotting (or deciphering) our later wanderings. We then moved on to the Coast Guard beach. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife here, but spent a relaxing time on the beach watching the surf.    

 

The fish ladder at Stony Brook on Cape Cod. 

 

A Herring Gull waits for herring . 

 

Surf's up on Coast Guard Beach at Cape Cod National Seashore. 

 

  

It had been a full day, but there was more to come. Sarah’s grandmother had invited us to a barbecue at her home in Bourne, so we got our second excellent free meal of the day. Finally, we pushed on to Plymouth and the Sleepy Pilgrim Motel.

Day 4 - A Pilgrimage to Mecca

 

In ancient times, people built temples and other structures in exact alignment with certain celestial events. Many of the Indian Mounds in Marietta bear this out. It is a little known fact that the Sleepy Pilgrim Motel in Plymouth Massachusetts is built along these same lines. I think the place was designed so that the first peek of sunlight at dawn on May 29th would insinuate itself between the blinds on the door and awaken me in my bed. We were unimpressed by Plymouth Rock. They may have known how to get a belt on a hat, but the pilgrims didn’t know much about sailing. We had breakfast between the sewage plant and Cranberry World. Cranberry World is the world headquarters of Ocean Spray, the cooperative who has figures out how to get us all to eat what has to be the bitterest, least appealing fruit on the east coast. Have you ever noticed that they always mix the cranberries with something? Cranberry World is well done as museum/propaganda outlets go (we’ll get to Chocolate World on Day 15). You can learn a lot about how cranberries are grown, harvested and marketed. Or, you can just walk through, nod politely at a few exhibits, go downstairs for the complimentary treats, and wander outside to the tidal flats. More gulls, lots of barnacles, and more than a few molluscs, which got Tanya, our consulting conchologist, excited. 
  

 

Plymouth Rock is in the structure at the left of the picture above

Plymouth Rock.

 

Cranberry plants growing at Cranberry World in Plymouth, Massachusetts. 

Sarah Beck with her notebook at the shore in Plymouth. 

 

  
From Plymouth, we traveled to Scarborough Maine to see the salt marsh there (whoops – New Hampshire, state 10, time in state = 20 minutes). Maine is state 11. The salt marsh at Scarborough is the largest in Maine. The Maine Audubon Society has a giftshop/interpretive center there; you can rent canoes there on weekends. This was a Friday. We decided to go for the commercialism of Freeport Maine and forgo the tranquil waters of the marsh. But, before leaving we got to see the "yellow-slippered" snowy egrets, some entertaining swallows, and even some glossy ibises.

  
Freeport Maine. Home to L.L. Bean and with outlets for every other yuppie-oriented outdoor marketer (there’s an oxymoron) marketer in the world. Fortunately, late May isn’t the height of the tourist season, so we didn’t have to fight our way into the town. Our first stop was the Bean outlet store. My wife calls Freeport "mecca", and I had (well, I lost it, but at one time I had it) a list of must-buy bargains. Of course, they had none of these at the outlet store. We did pick up a few bargains however. While in the store, a huge cloudburst came over and kept us there a bit longer than we had planned. We were examining the Gore-Tex racks when the sky cleared. After a trip to the van to unload our purchases, we were off to dinner and then – to the big store, Mecca central.

It was at the big store that I bought the Jesus hat. We didn’t call it that at first, but the die was cast. Tanya and Almuth saw me with it; as the resident entomologist I explained about blackflies. They bought their own Jesus hats. For the uninformed, the Jesus hat is a mesh covering designed to be worn over the entire head to keep the bugs (technically adult female Simuliidae, Ceratopogonidae, Tabanidae, and Culicidae) away from one’s skin.

  Day 5 – Away From the Tourists.

  The next morning we were off for more exploration. However, our first trip was back to mecca. After some more explanation about blackflies, Sarah and Candace decided to purchase their own Jesus hats. As to the name, I don’t want to give away how it came about, but rest assured we meant no blasphemy. While the additional hats we being purchased, I checked out Mecca Jr., the L.L. Kids store. In many ways, it’s better then the regular store. At the big store, they didn’t mind when I stuck my feet into the trout pond, so I was somewhat surprised when they wouldn’t let me on the rotating climbing wall in the kid’s store. 
  
We went out to Wolf Neck Woods State Park. We took the little bog trail; as advertised the little bog is evidently so little we walked right past it, much to Dr. Tschunko’s consternation. Still, she was able to introduce us to many of the Maine wildflowers including mayflowers and bunchberries. We came out to the seashore for more beachcombing and saw an osprey nest. 
  

 

  Two views of the shoreline at Wolf Neck State Park, Maine. 

 

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), a relative of the dogwood. 

 

  Pink Lady's Slippers, also known as Moccasin-Flower (Cypripedium acaule).  

A northern orchid; also found in the Appalachian Mountains. 

 

  We then drove along the coast to Castine, Maine. A scenic trip, with but one stop at a Subway for lunch. It was after overshooting the Subway that we learned to make the distinction between an observationand a request when commenting on roadside attractions; this distinction would later come to the aid of many a stressed bladder. Castine is a lovely town. Marietta College has a good friend there in Dan Jones, our former director of admissions who now holds the same post at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. Dan had arranged wonderful accommodations for us in the graduate house at the academy, and our check-in instructions told us to give Dan a call. We had been running late all day, and Dan told us we had to hustle to catch our harbor tour. Morgan, a student at the academy, was indeed on the sloop as promised, and took us on a tour of the bay. Once he knew we were biologists he was sure to take us by the harbor seals pulled up on a rock. We got back to the academy and moved into our spacious quarters. After 4 nights with 5 people in 2 hotel rooms (with one of us on a cot), it was a real luxury to spread out into 3 apartments. We unpacked and took a walking tour of Castine, followed by a dinner at a nice restaurant where we could eat out on a pier overlooking the bay. At Castine we got a good look at cormorants for the first time. Although it was a little cool, I couldn’t pass up Maine Black Bear ice cream at the corner store. Sarah and Candace later wandered off to give the tackling dummies on the football field a little attitude adjustment.    

The Maine Maritime Academy Docks in Castine, Maine.

 

    For more about Castine, see our friends at the Maine Maritime Academy!  

Day 6 – Acadia National Park

  
Dr. Tschunko was up at dawn to look for birds – and dawn comes early as you head north. I met her on her way back. We watched some cedar waxwings working an elm for bugs. An elm? Yes, Castine has somehow managed to retain its stately american elms. These trees have been literally wiped out by dutch elm disease across the country, but have held on in Castine (and in several other places in New England as we found out). I was able to smell the unique and pleasant aroma of the elms for the first time since childhood. We had our breakfast on the dock; it was now low tide and we got a feel for the extreme tidal range as one approached the Bay of Fundy.

From Castine we made the short drive to Bar Harbor. Parking at the College of the Atlantic, we made our way to the seashore for more beachcombing. The college, on the edge of Bar Harbor, had some very productive tide pools and very strangely attired students. The stalls in the bathrooms have chalkboards; I’m going to lobby for that at Marietta. They also had a very informative flier discussing various aspects of "womyns" hygiene. I actually checked to be sure I hadn’t wandered into the wrong venue for a person of my gender, but was reassured by the sight of male-specific plumbing; I guess they just wanted everyone to be informed.

  
 

Candace consults with Dr. Tschunko over a find.

 

As I said, the tide pools were productive. We had seen lots of barnacles, but here we were able to see them feeding. More seaweed of course, but also a variety of molluscs. Sarah found a sea star (starfish) wedged in a crevice under a large rock. Candace found an orange-footed sea cucumber; later we would see several more. We found a number of green crabs both young and old, and in fact found one female carrying eggs. Under the rockweed we saw a number of amphipods as well. 
  

 

Barnacles on a rock in a tide pool at Bar Harbor. 

A barnacle "open for business" and actively feeding. 

A female green crab (Carcinus maenas) on the beach at Bar Harbor. 

  The same crab, showing the eggs she is protecting under her abdomen.  We were sure to return her to a protected area to await the rising tide, 

An orange-footed sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) washed up on the shore.  Digital camera image by Tanya Troutner-Jarrell. 

 

 

We then moved into Acadia National Park. The weather began to turn on us at this point, and the sky was threatening. On the loop road we saw several beaver dams, and Dr. Tschunko pointed out the various types of birches. We couldn’t find the peregrine falcons nesting at the Precipice, and Thunder Hole was quiet. At otter cove, however, we saw our first loon of the trip. We ascended Cadillac Mountain in a driving rain. At the top we went to the gift store and waited for a break in the rain. When it slowed to a mere wind-driven drizzle, we dashed around to try and take some pictures. I was glad to have my Nikonos underwater camera at that point!

From Acadia, we drove further up the Maine coast to the charming Blueberry patch motel. On Cape Cod we had seen cranberry bogs; here we say blueberry patches, which are burned periodically to discourage weeds and encourage the blueberries. We also saw a larch tree! The people at the motel put us on to the adjacent White House Restaurant – good food, great prices. We drove down to Jonesport to be sure we knew the way – the next morning we’d be up early to go see Puffins!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7 – from the ashes of defeat...

Up at 5:30 am – it had been a stormy night and it was a cold, gray day. We loaded up, anxious that the weather might keep us from reaching the island where the puffins were. The White House Restaurant fixed us up with a solid breakfast and even provided carryout lunches for the trip. We were at the dock in Jonesport by 7 as promised. Things didn’t look good when we realized that the boat wasn’t at the pier. Still, some other people obviously going out to see the puffins (lobstermen don’t stroll along carrying tripods and binoculars in Jonesport) showed up. Things looked real bad, however, when Captain Barna Norton parked behind another truck. You don’t park someone in when you expect to take a 7-hour cruise! Captain Norton gave us the bad news – a storm system, which had wreaked havoc in the Midwest (destroying a town in South Dakota, among other things), would keep us from reaching the island. Decision time – we were due on Prince Edward Island that evening, but Captain Norton could take us out the next day if we could stick around. After some thought, that’s exactly what we decided to do. At this point, Captain John Norton (Barna’s son) came by and suggested some outings. At that point, we realized we really needed aMaine Gazetteer. These wonderful map books, produced for many of the states, are invaluable to the outdoor enthusiast. Here in Ohio, I routinely will synchronize directions with someone over the phone (... see that little pond to the left of the road – no, I’m on map 72 – yes, the one right off county road 12. Park near the pond, the trail is off to the left.."). Did I mention that the Gazetteers for all of the states are produced by DeLorme in (where else) Freeport, Maine? Cap’n John directed us to a Nature Conservancy property on nearby Great Wass Island, and pointed out several other possibilities on the mainland with the aid of aGazetteer from one of the other groups. 
  
Great Wass Island is just that. The trail alternates from boreal forest to Canadian Shield granite outcroppings – with bogs everywhere. Not far into the trail we came upon a spruce grouse. It put on quite a show, even doing its display and call for us. We were very proud of our woods skills (until I found the entry in the field guide that called it a "tame bird"). We saw bogs complete with pitcher plants and sphagnum moss. We met a team from the University of Maine studying jack pine. Finally, we came out on what was perhaps the most spectacular shoreline we would see the whole trip. The low gray sky and a foggy haze enhanced the visual drama; a foghorn in the distance completed the experience. We were able to walk over what seemed like miles of rockweed (Fucus sp.); this would prove to be a very useful skill 24 hours later. We had arrived just after low tide, and had to race the tide back to shore. Along the way, however, we made several discoveries, the most exciting of which were the iridescent green Nereis (probably Nereis virens) clamworms. 

 

Trail through a bog on Great Wass Island.

 

Sphagnum moss (left) and pitcher plants (right) in the bog.

 

  A spruce grouse on Great Wass Island.

Clam worm (Nereis sp.) of the shore at Great Wass Island.

Candace Tuxhorn exploring the shoreline on Great Wass Island.

 

  
  

 

Fucus pulled back to reveal mussels.  The wet Fucus protects a myriad of animals which would otherwise be exposed to the elements at low tide.

A red algae.

Laminaria digitata, a form of kelp.

Another form of Fucus showing the air bladders that help the leaves to float near the surface.

Algae in a tide pool.

Ulva, the sea-lettuce - a type of green algae.

More Fucus - the aptly named rockweed covered many of the rocks at several sites we visited, including Great Wass Island  and Machias Seal Island.  Learning to walk on this slippery mat became a vital skill.

 

 

After Great Wass Island we set out in search of a Gazetteer. We combed Machias, but were unable to locate one. I was cursing myself for not getting one while at the Bean store, but I hadn’t planned on going anywhere in Maine I hadn’t been before. Finally, at our last stop, we asked the clerk if they had one. They didn’t, and neither the clerk nor several of the local patrons knew where we might get one. Out of the blue, one of the patrons offered to give us hers. She declined our offers of payment, saying she needed a new one anyway. Her copy was pretty beat up, but it got us where we needed to go. Wherever you are, thanks for the Gazetteer!

Gazetteer in hand, we set off for the Great Works Wildlife Management Area, where Captain John thought we might see moose. Unfortunately, well short of our goal we were stopped by a washout in the road. Dr. Tschunko did see a saw-whet owl in the trees by the roadside, however, and we stopped to take pictures. I didn’t have time to get the big lens out, but I was able to take several credible pictures using my 100-mm macro lens. I was astonished at how close we were able to get; the astonishment faded to humiliation later however, when the bird guide described the saw-whet as, you guessed it – a "tame little owl". Still, a spruce grouse and a saw-whet in one day aren’t too bad. Scott Weidensaul was even jealous, saying he has been looking for spruce grouse in Maine for years.

 

Day 8 – we pay up. 

 

After another night at the Blueberry patch we were up early again to get down to the dock. Things looked better this time. The Chief was waiting for us at the dock and we climbed in. The boat was comfortable, and we had ample space to stow all the photo gear and backpacks under cover up front. The head (that’s a toilet) was also located up front where the boat has the liveliest ride. Enough said about that. Although it was a cold day, the cabin of the boat was heated and warm. Barna and John alternated at the helm; when not driving they would mix with the passengers. John was the one to ask about the wildlife; he recognized everything, even without binoculars. Barna would tell you about the local history and landmarks. On the way out we saw bald eagles, and even had a chance to see one eagle steal a fish from another.

After an hour or so, we approached Machias Seal Island. By the time we were anchored we had all seen a puffin; the Nortons guarantee seeing a puffin or your trip is free. So, at this point we were definitely paying passengers (although I harbor a secret dream of making reservations for a group of 30 or so people and then driving up in a bus from a school for the blind, just to see the look on the Nortons’ faces when they realize that not many of their passengers will see a puffin that day!). John took us into shore in a small outboard boat. The quay was slippery, but not a big deal, even with 30 pounds of camera gear on my back and a tripod in one hand. The only near disaster came when I swung my photo backpack up onto my shoulder. The strap came lose and the thing just flew over my back and came crashing down on the edge of the quay – and almost into the water. Fortunately, nothing was damaged. 
  
We were lucky in getting onto the island. Machias Seal Island is administered by the Canadian Government, which runs a lighthouse there. Only 30 people a day are allowed permits to visit the island (this is to protect the birds), and the Nortons have a competitor who also brings people to the island. We had permits – for the previous day. Fortunately the other boat didn’t come out that day and we could all go ashore. 
  
The whole time we were ashore we were carefully shepherded by an employee of Environment Canada. He took us from one place to another, and kept all 21 of us close together. The terns had just begun nesting and there was a danger that we would step on the nests or that the birds would attack us. Apparently the terns are a little more respectful of a group than they are individuals. There are a number of blinds – simple plywood boxes with sliding wood window covers – on the island. We divided up into groups of 4 to go to the blinds; 16 people could get into 4 different blinds at once. This put us in a sticky situation – we had 5 in our group. Candace volunteered to be the lone person out, and, as a result, may have had the best time of all. 
  
The other 4 of us went into our first blind. It was crowded and hot, but when we raised the window covers we were amazed at the sight. Dozens of puffins, razorbills, and 2 kinds of terns (arctic and common) filled the air and covered the rocks. Puffin footsteps pattered on our roof. Puffins were carrying nesting material; terns fish. We saw mating displays, mating, and territorial displays. The birds were often so close I had to put an extender on the 400mm lens to enable me to focus up close. We could look out either to seaward or towards the center of the island, and there were birds everywhere. It was nearly the same at the second blind when we moved there after about 40 minutes. After leaving the second blind, we expected to sit out while the group Candace was with was in the blinds. But, they were nowhere to be found, and the Canadians were moving us down towards the dock. 
  
The tide was out – way out. The time on the island had to be cut short because if the tide dropped just a little more the boat wouldn’t be able to retrieve us. As it was, we had to walk a good distance from the quay across the rockweed (the practice the day before served us well here) to the boat. The trip included walking the plank – a board thrown across the crevice where the boat had dropped us off originally. I was in the last boat; as we pulled out from a sheltered inlet John tried to time the waves so we could escape the shallows between breakers. He would have made it had a piece of kelp (Laminaria agardhii) not caught the prop and slowed the boat at a crucial time. Still, we made it through the breaker with a splash that made me glad I was in the back of the boat.

We got back to the Chief feeling sorry for Candace, who hadn’t made it into the blinds. We shouldn’t have felt sorry. While we were in the blinds Candace had helped the Environment Canada guy mark new tern nests, and had had a tour around the island by boat, where she was able to watch the puffins diving into the water and feeding. She also got to see seals and some of the other bird species such as the murres. 
 

 

Razorbills (Alca torda) on Machias Seal Island.

A razorbill looks out to sea.

Courting common terns (Sterna hirundo).

 

 

Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) nesting on Machias Seal Island The flag has been placed to prevent anyone from stepping on the nest.

A photographer working from a blind on the island.

A tern in flight.

These guys need no introduction - they are Atlantic Puffins, Fratercula arctica.  There were hundreds of them on the island.

 

 

  
  

 

   

  Three views of Machias Seal Island.

 

  
As we set off for Jonesport we also got a look at a mixed flock of murres and razorbills on one of the island cliffs. The trip back in made me realize how hungry I was and I dug into my snack bag – a mixture of cereal, raisins and peanuts that we had been eating in the van the whole trip. As we approached Jonesport, the boat was slowed several times so we could look at the harbor seals pulled up on the rocks exposed by the low tide. 
 

A mixed flock on Machias Seal Island.  Included in this view are razorbills as well as thin-billed (Uria aalge) and thick-billed (Uria lomvia) murres.

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) near Jonesport.

  
It was now early afternoon – we had to be in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island that night. Back into the van for the long drive to Canada. We crossed the border at Calais, Maine into New Brunswick, Canada in the afternoon, and drove on just inland of the Bay of Fundy. Stopping for dinner at a Dairy Queen in Moncton, we realized that we would be hitting "the bridge" at night. The bridge is the Confederation Bridge connecting Prince Edward Island with the mainland. In use for almost a year, it wasn’t even on our road maps. The bridge stretches 13 km across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We had all been dreading being the one who had to drive across it; now I was the lucky one, and it would be at night.

It wasn’t that bad – at night it was a lot like driving an interstate through a large city, what with all the concrete and sodium-vapor streetlights. You couldn’t get a feel for height, and the bridge was a cozy two lanes wide. After reaching PEI, we had another 40 minutes or so of driving until we found our rooms at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) at Charlottetown. We were tired – but we had seen puffins!

Days 9-11: The NABS Meeting

One of the main reasons for our trip was to allow Candace to present the results of her senior capstone work at the North American Benthological Society Meeting. Benthological refers to study of things on the bottom (of a lake or stream in this case), and the Society, which is international, is one of the largest professional associations of freshwater biologists. We had already missed the first day of the meeting to see the puffins; unfortunately it was the day that had the papers I was most interested in hearing (after Candace’s, of course). We slept in a little on Wednesday, and most of us set about taking care of numerous housekeeping details – getting Canadian money, washing clothes, etc. I went to a few papers, as did the others, and used the university’s computer lab to check up on my email. In the afternoon, we got back in the van and drove to the north side of the island to Cavendish, where there is a national park on the beach. Also at Cavendish is Green Gables, a house built in commemoration of the fictional character Anne of Green Gables, whose adventures "occurred" in this vicinity. It was a cold rainy day, and the rain never did lift while we were on the island. After dinner, we went to the meeting mixer where I was able to talk to a few old friends.

 The next day was the big one for Candace. As her talk was in the afternoon, I used some of the early morning hours to prepare a simple web page with our adventures so far; the web page was illustrated with pictures from our digital camera. Tanya had been the chief photographer with the digital camera, and she had some good shots. I suppose I wanted to update the web pages on our computer in Marietta from 2,000 miles away just because it could be done.

In the afternoon, Candace gave her talk. It was on the flight velocity of dragonflies, and Candace had made a dress out of dragonfly print cloth to wear during the talk. Candace was a bit nervous, but, watching a colleague leave the meeting, I was able to tell her to relax since the only person in the room who knew anything about dragonfly flight (aside from us) had just left. Candace gave a wonderful talk, and was approached about a possible summer job afterwards. We were all very proud of her; her talk was as good as most of those given by the "professionals" – not to mention the various grad students. Sarah taped the whole talk, and then all of us (except for Candace) darted out to catch a talk on forensic entomology in a different building. Click Here to See Candace's Talk

As promised, Wednesday’s showers had given way to a plain old rain. We boarded busses in the rain to go to the 2-lobster dinner. Our bus didn’t get very far; as we set off the brake light came on and the brakes went out. We found our way through the rain to other vans. The dinner was held under tents, fortunately. We hooked up with Steve Burian from Southern Connecticut State University.  Because he had done his Ph.D. in Maine, Steve was able to give us some useful information to help plan the rest of the trip, as well as show us some of the finer points of dining on lobster. 
 

The Green Gables House on the north coast of Prince Edward Island.

 

The beach at Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

Abandoned lobster trap on the beach, Prince Edward Island.

  
Friday’s weather was, well, more rain. We all went to a few more talks, although Candace and Sarah got up a little later, having made a walking tour of the town the night before. In the afternoon, we went to a different part of the national park. Both times we went to the park, the tollgates were closed, with signs saying to drive on through. The weather was so bad no one else was in the park, or so it seemed. We did get to do some beachcombing and examine the local geology up close. The island is made up of a red sandstone, which weathers to a red soil. At the beach, water eventually leaches out the iron oxide responsible for the red color, leaving white sand. We could also see erosion taking place wherever the dune grasses were disturbed. Driving through the park we saw several bald eagles, and great blue herons coming in to a rookery. There were also a few exciting sightings in the shorebird department.

 

 Day 12 – A Moose at Last!   We slept in a little on Saturday, because we knew the bridge would be closed until 10:30 for a celebration of its one-year anniversary. That gave us some time to check out a few bookstores in downtown Charlottetown before leaving the island. Back in New Brunswick, we made a short (5 km) detour so we could cross the Nova Scotia border (11 states, 3 provinces) and then we followed the St. John River to Houlton, Maine, where we crossed back into the US. At the border, we stopped to exchange our currency, and were surprised to see a family of foxes at the side of the road. The pups were curious, and mom couldn’t keep them in the woods until a man on an ATV rolled by and scared them away for good. After a late lunch in Houlton, it was then a relatively short ride down Interstate 95 to Millinocket, Maine, and the Atrium Inn. We unpacked, noted the pool and hot tub, and decided to drive out to Baxter State Park even though it was late in the evening. We wanted to get info on what time the park opened, and where people were seeing moose. With the puffins behind us, moose were the other "big game" we were hoping to bag for our life lists. We got to the park, and the ranger at the gate directed us to several spots where we might see moose, even that evening. It was after 7, but we decided to go ahead and take a chance. We paid our $8 and entered the park. Driving along the western road in the park, we carefully examined every body of water for moose – but saw nothing. At the point where we were driving by headlights, we gave up and turned back.   Suddenly, about 2 miles from the gate, a bull moose appeared on the road in front of the van! He loped down the road at 5-10 miles per hour. At this point in the season, his antlers were mere nubs covered with velvet. We followed behind at a respectful distance. He made no attempt to move off the road; he continued to simply jog down the road. Illumination from the headlights cast a ghostly white light over everything, and it took little imagination to believe that we were riding in a sleigh – behind a particularly large and mangy horse! Our friend turned to continue around the eastern side of the park at the main gate – delighting some people who were just driving in. Ten feet inside the park and they saw a moose!

The evening wasn’t over yet, however. We pulled into a picnic area outside the park at Upper Togue Pond. The night was still, and there was no traffic on the road. In fact, there was no man-made sound at all. No planes, no boats – just quiet. The sky was clearing and the stars were coming out, along with a nearly full moon. Suddenly, from across the lake somewhere came the hoot of an owl. Minutes later, the real symphony began as several pairs of loons began calling across the still waters. We sat enthralled as they went through every call in their repertoires. It was truly a magical moment. 
  
Day 13 – Serious Moose

On Saturday we started off with an excellent breakfast at the Atrium, then headed out to the park. We went directly to Sandy Stream Pond on the eastern side of the park, a well-known moose hangout. On the trail we met several people coming back with reports that a moose cow was in the pond. Sure enough, as we approached we could see a cow in the water no more than 50 feet away. The light was perfect, with the sun coming up behind us and illuminating the moose as she fed. The water was only knee deep for her, and we watched her for some time; taking pictures and video at a furious rate. As she began to leave, nature called, and she relieved herself there in the water, a cautionary tale to anyone who drinks unfiltered water from "clean" mountain lakes. At that point, however, a bull moose, with antlers taking shape under velvet, moved into the pond to our right. He instantly attracted the attention of a photographer who had staked her claim on the best photographic site around, a rock out in the pond a short distance. Still, we were able to watch the bull for quite some time as he fed on the underwater vegetation, sometimes tossing his wet head around with water flying off the antlers. Perhaps he was trying to shoo away the cloud of flies that were escorting him. We were also drawing flies, and after 20 minutes of so of watching and photographing the bull (a second bull also came into the pond, but stayed more distant), we moved into the woods and donned our Jesus hats. On the way back to the van, Dr. Tschunko, who was now using the digital camera, stopped to photograph some of the wildflowers, and I stopped to take some pictures of Roaring Brook, as well as a toad and a snake that I came across. 
  
  

 

Moose (Alces alces) in Sandy Stream Pond, Baxter State Park, Maine. 

Roaring Brook Stream. 

Flush with success, we headed to the west side of the park again to try our luck further. We stopped to take pictures of twinflowers, to catch dragonflies, and to swat mosquitoes, which turned out to be more of a nuisance than the blackflies. We drove back to Kidney Pond, and walked through lush northern woods to Celia Pond. We had just gotten back to the van, and a few of the group were heading to the bathroom when I called to their attention the bull moose standing 10 feet away from them. It looked much like our friend from the night before, with mere knobs for antlers. It walked calmly through the parking lot until a woman drove up in her car. Instead of merely turning it off, she insisted on parking, which spooked the bull, who moved off into the forest. I didn’t have time to get the big lens on the camera, so I can now say I was taking pictures of a moose with a macro lens – we were that close!

  
 

Twinflower (Linnaea borealis). 

 

Back into Millinocket for some R&R at the Atrium. Some time in the hot tub and the pool eased muscles sore from hiking, and we then went downtown for a good dinner. Back out to the park then, for a last session with the loons.

  
Day 14 – On the Road Again

  
Well, it was now Monday, and we had to be back in Marietta on Wednesday. We were still a long way from home, and that meant a couple of days of serious driving. We set out from Millinocket in the morning and drove the whole day – through Maine, across New Hampshire (20 minutes) and across Massachusetts into New York. The scenery was great, the service at the gas station poor. We stayed near Albany. 

 

Day 15 – Hellos and Good-byes, and a Little Mousse. 
 

Our marathon drive the previous day left us only about 10 hours from Marietta, which meant we could take the time to see some sights. We drove on through New York to New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. We finally got to the Rodale Farms, which we had to bypass on the first day. Rodale is a big publisher of gardening books. We were able to explore the bookstore and take a self-guided tour through the experimental farm. We also took the opportunity to photograph some very tame barn swallows. Next, we moved on to Hershey, and, of course, Chocolate World. I think Dr. Tschunko thought it would have some educational value. Well, it did have a little, but as you might imagine, the whole thing, including the animated "tour" of a "processing plant" was just a bit syrupy. The tropical plants in the atrium were nice, however.

 

Sarah Beck at Chocolate World. Sarah is a Biology major minoring in game show hosting.

 

The 1998 Biology Department Field Class Team. Left to right: Sarah Beck, Candace Tuxhorn, Tanya Troutner, Dave McShaffrey, Almuth Tschunko.

 

  
It was also time to say good-bye to one of our group. Candace's grandparents were "camping" in their RV outside of Hershey. Candace was to stay with them for a few days then move on to Philadelphia to see about a possible job. We dropped Candace off with them and found a place to stay for the night.

Day 16 – Back Home in Marietta.

The drive back to Marietta was routine except for an awful fog that enveloped us near Sideling Hill and on every mountaintop from there to Morgantown. We got into Marietta in the afternoon, and began the process of dropping everyone off and uloading the van. Our trip was over, and it was time to delve into piles of mail, waiting email and voice-mail messages, and lots of film to develop.

Here are some more of Tanya Jarrell's images from our trip. 

 

Codium found on Cape Cod.

Barnacles on a rock near Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Nudibranchs at Bar Harbor.

A rock crab (with eggs), also at Bar Harbor, Maine.

An orange-footed sea cucumber (Cucamaria frondosa) from Bar Harbor.

Candace Tuxhorn exploring the rocks at Great Wass Island, Maine.

Bachelor's Button.

Pink Ladyslipper.

More Ladyslippers.

Pitcher Plants about to flower on Great Wass Island.

Bird watching on Cape Cod.

Spruce Grouse on Great Wass Island.

Saw-whet owl in the Maine woods.

Razorbills on Machias Seal Island.

A Razorbill looking out to sea - Machias Seal Island.

A puffin - Machias Seal Island.

Farewell to Machias Seal Island.