Friday, July 31, 2009

What I Did on My Summer 'Rain'cation

Over the July 4th holiday, Mark and I took a week vacation to join our friend Eddie who was leading his 12th annual Brookline Bird Club birding trip to the Rangeley Lakes Region of Maine. We actually spent three days at Claybrook Mountain Lodge in Highland Plantation and four days in the Rangeley Lakes Area. The rainy weather pattern that has been all too familiar in the northeast this summer continued during our entire vacation. We had less than four hours (yes - 4 HOURS) of sunshine the entire time we were in Maine but we had a fantastic time anyway!

My favorite part of the trip was our stay at Claybrook Mountain Lodge, which is a sporting camp that welcomes anyone wishing to hunt, fish, bird, hike, canoe/kayak, bike, snowmobile, cross-country ski, or simply get away from it all and enjoy Maine’s beautiful western mountain region. The proprietors, Greg and Pat Drummond, are wonderful and make you feel completely at home in their rustic lodge. Pat is also the lodge chef and kept us all (12 birders in total) very well fed. We had full early morning breakfasts, bagged lunches meant for picnics but we ate at the lodge each day due to the rain, and delicious dinners complete with Pat’s warm, homemade bread! Greg was our guide for much of our stay and he took us to amazing places to bird. His local knowledge is impressive and his stories about life in the western mountain region of Maine are entertaining and riveting. While the rain kept us indoors for much of our stay at Claybrook that was OK by me. I enjoyed spending time at the lodge, getting to know others on the trip a bit more, kicking back a little, and relaxing. If you are ever in the area and can take some time, I would highly recommend a stay at Claybrook Mountain Lodge. Following are a few photos I took during the Claybrook portion of the trip.

A Fritillary Butterfly.

Wilson’s (Common) Snipe on Gilman Pond/Reed’s Road perched on a wooden fence posts!

Greg built this gorgeous, sturdy, classic wooden canoe several years ago.

Pam and I canoed Gilman Pond with Greg. This was Pam’s first time out on the water and she enjoyed every minute. Here she is watching Greg fly-fish.

Black Brook Flowage.

Blue Flag Iris at Black Brook Flowage.

While hiking the Black Brook Flowage path we found a tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet nest. It was made of lichen and nestled in-between Balsam Fir branches.

Several of the gang birding at a logging road bridge.

We watched this Northern Parula weave its nest along side the logging road.

Joan, a birding friend and budding Mycologist, collected several mushrooms to identify.

Sally, the Drummond’s Great Dane, loved the glow-in-the-dark Frisbee.

For the Rangeley Lakes portion of the trip we shared a cabin with seven of our friends, the trip participants nearly doubled, the birding pace seemed to quicken a bit, and the rain - well it kept on raining. We birded familiar territory including Boy Scout Road along the Kennebago River, clear-cuts along Routes 16 and 17, and ski trails on Saddleback Mountain. The rain and high/fast water prevented us from paddling the Kennebago River - it was only the second time in 12 years that Eddie had to cancel this paddle! Following are a few photos I took during the Rangeley portion of the trip.

A rose shrub along the Kennebago River.

One of four cooperative Gray Jays along Boy Scout Road.

Moonrise over Saddleback Mountain as seen from our cabin on our last evening in Maine.

Northwestern Maine is one of my favorite places to visit - rain or shine – and I Thank my dear friend Eddie for leading his birding trip there each year! He puts his heart and soul into organizing and running the trip and each year is a bit of an adventure. Mark and I usually help Eddie behind the scene and we often start thinking about next year’s trip soon after the current year trip is over. Yes - we are already talking about the 2010 Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountain Region trip! Despite the weather for 2009, we had fun, saw great birds, got out in-between raindrops to hike and paddle , and enjoyed the company of old friends and new. A fine way to spend a summer 'rain'cation!


  1. I really like the photo of the fritillary with the daisies. It's very pretty. I've never seen a Gray Jay...he's a very strking bird, and of course, your moon photos are stunning. We definitely need to add Maine to our list (rain and all, it's gorgeous!)

  2. Thank you Kelly! Maine is such a wonderful state to visit with so much to do. We are lucky to live so close. When you do come across Gray Jay’s keep your snacks close by. Depending on where you see them they may come and eat out of your hand!

  3. Excellent post - a great summary and stirs wonderful memories of a fantastic (albeit wet, but who cares) trip!!!

  4. Oh my you guys are all wet! LOL..well u had a great time! saw some cool birds...The Gray Jay! very cool!
    nice post!

  5. Hi C and Dawn - Thanks for stopping by. It was a fun vacation even though it was a wet one. You can’t go wrong when you are among friends no matter what the weather.