Lesson #1: SD cards are not to be trusted. After four days of lifering hard and taking hundreds of bad photos my SD card called it quits. It was too much. I'm guessing the blame lies on the fiery Blackburnian Warbler, but really who can say?
Lesson #2: Yelling "LOOK TOUGHER DAMMIT" at a bunch of bird nerds does not actually make them look tougher.
Lesson #3: A Spruce Grouse hangs out in a spruce forest, exactly like it should.
Some folks called this the bird of the trip. I was a bigger fan of the Boreal Chickadees we saw, but alas, those photos are gone.
Lesson #4: Brown Thrashers are not confiding at all, except when they're staying at a crappy Travelodge by a highway. Then they really let their hair down.
Lesson #6: Bird nerds get excited about things other than birds.
Lesson #7: There is plenty of dead stuff to photograph in Maine.
Lesson #8: Philadelphia Vireos are more striking than I had anticipated, even at great distances.
Lesson #9: Before heading to Maine I was the only person left on the planet who had not seen a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I took some okay photos of one at the Scarborough River Wildlife Sanctuary, but those are gone. All I have are some crappy ones from Kokadjo.
Lesson #10: Maine is pain. One day it's 85 and sunny, the next it's 45 and raining. And then it's 45 and raining again. And again. Despite this, we decided to wake up at 3:45 a.m. and hike almost 2000 feet up Big Moose Mountain to search for Bicknell's Thrush.
We got completely soaked, pelted with freezing rain at the top, and only one person saw the bird. Go Team Nate.
Lesson #11: Where there's pain, there's whiskey.
And where there's whiskey, there's Miss Brown. And baby deer. And things that will never make their way to the internet, fingers crossed.
Lesson #12: Frog choruses lurk in everyone's nightmares and have been known to cause roads to disappear entirely. Accidentally cranking the defrost suddenly has the same result but with more yelling by Seagull.
Lesson #13: Dipper Dan is exceptionally good at catching amphibians.
Lesson #14: Porcupines look super awkward and super adorable when they climb trees.
Lesson #15: I need to spend more time in peat bogs. Between the pitcher plants, the birds, and the moose poop, there is much to enjoy.
Lesson #16: American Woodcock displays are rad, even if you never actually see the damn birds. Everyone else saw them for the record. I also learned that if I do a poor nighthawk imitation in the front seat of the car, the folks in the back seat think they're hearing a woodcock.
Ignore the White-throated Sparrow and listen for the buzzy peent of the woodcock:
Lesson #17: There are no moose in Maine. There is moose poop. There are moose tracks. There are wild-eyed New Yorkers with loud voices and big ideas about where to find moose (hint: GO LEFT GO LEFT GO LEFT). But really, there are no actual moose.
Lesson #18: The coolest buggy thing of the trip could found on my motel room door frame in Greenville.
Lesson #19: My love for yellow-shafted flickers has not waned since I first learned about them while writing a report for my 8th grade science class back in CT.
Lesson #20: New England means good bagels. Everything bagels have seeds on both sides as well as salt. The vegan cream cheese is spread generously. If you're lucky, behind the bagel shop there are Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sparrows to drool over. Thanks, Mister Bagel.
Lesson #21: Lubec, Maine is where the sun first rises in the United States. It's quiet and beautiful but filled with bad food. The grocery store, which closes at 7:00, has six varieties of veggie burgers and not one is vegan.
Lesson #22: A whore's egg is a sea urchin.
So that was Maine. There was so much I wish I could have showed you. So many warblers. Thrushes. A Little Gull. Roseate Terns. Boreal Chickadees. Sharp-tailed sparrows. You will have to take my word for it, or check out Seagull Steve's, Natey's, or Dipper Dan's blogs.