Wildlife

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We did not know what kind of local wildlife to expect in Maine. We were spoiled, animal-wise, having lived in Alaska for many years. Our home in Anchorage was in an area called “Hillside,” a gradual rise to the mountains of Chugach State Park, a vast and wild protected area just a ten-minute drive from our house.

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Powerline Pass trail in the Chugach. If you look carefully you’ll see a moose blocking the trail–a not uncommon occurrence.

Every spring, moose mothers-to-be migrated down the hills into populated areas to have their babies, in an attempt to avoid predation during birth and the newborns’ most helpless first weeks. Moose Babies.jpgOne scarred cow moose chose our neighborhood for her maternity ward several years running, giving us a succession of knobble-kneed moose calves to admire each spring. 129_2947Moose Mom w BabiesIn the fall, the adolescents returned to stock up for the winter on whatever was left in our garden and to strip our delectable lilac bush down to two bare nubs.Moose in the Paddock.jpg

Bears also came down from the mountains, looking for moose babies, garbage, and bird and dog food. Bird feeders, especially, seemed to be bear magnets. As a result, we could only feed birds when the bears were in hibernation–a period that became shorter in recent years with Anchorage’s increasingly warm winters. One year, our next-door neighbor ignored the bird feeder ban and this black bear knocked the food out of the feeder, pressed its paws into the seeds on the ground and then rolled on its back and licked the seed off its paws. He appeared to be relishing the easy feast.Yard Bear
We had an occasional lynx in the neighborhood and wolves nearby. Bald eagles were so common that we called them flying rats. Eagles in Kachemak Bay.jpgEagles
Alaska was a hard act to follow. But Maine is doing a pretty good job. On our first evening in our new house, we were treated to a fox family, running along the edge of the lawn to eat a pile of sunflower seeds left under the big white pine where the previous owners had hung their bird feeder (they emptied out the feeder and took it with them).IMG_0422.jpg Apparently foxes like bird food as much as bears do. IMG_0513.jpgThe three kits wrestled and tore around the lawn while the adults looked on. IMG_0518We continued to see the foxes in the early morning and evening for a few weeks and then they disappeared. IMG_0502
A wild turkey flock comes and goes, we have heard (but not seen) coyotes, and we once saw a deer running across the driveway. We were curious as to what we weren’t seeing and mounted a game camera on a driveway tree a few weeks ago.

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The game camera caught the turkeys strutting down the drive

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Game camera again–I could never have gotten this shot. 

We were thrilled to see that the foxes are still around.

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And not so thrilled to see that we have several deer hanging about.

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We didn’t have any deer in the garden last year and are hoping that these won’t be tempted this year.

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A recent snowfall showed that they have been bedding down in our woods and we have had tracks across our lawn.

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There were seven or eight of these spots in the snow where it looked like deer had bedded down.

So, it looks like a garden fence may be in our future.

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Rabbit (hare, actually) tracks

Of all of our Maine wildlife, the birds have given me the most pleasure. Because we could only feed birds in the dead of winter in Alaska, our feeder birds were mostly chickadees and redpolls. We have a much wider variety at our Maine feeder–chickadees, juncos, goldfinches, purple finches, blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, sparrows, nuthatches, and mourning doves. IMG_5509Unfortunately, aside from the chickadees–nothing fazes them–the birds here are the most camera-shy of any I’ve ever encountered. IMG_5644I have had a terrible time getting any decent photos this winter. IMG_5494I could do a whole post of bird bum photos. IMG_5490
I did manage to capture, however, bluebirds that swooped in last week to eat sumac berries and some suet from our feeder. IMG_5258They took me by surprise. I had no idea that bluebirds overwintered in Maine. Nor had I ever seen so many together. There were at least eight or ten of them, maybe more. They hung around for a few days and were gone. IMG_5267Perhaps we’ll put up some houses for them before spring.

Finally, Zoe is our perpetual wild life. The game camera caught her racing down the driveway with all four paws in the air.

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She thinks she’s a sled dog.

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Zoe can only dream. These are what real Alaskan sprint dogs look like.

She adores the snow-blower and follows it everywhere, occasionally stopping to attack the spumes of blowing snow, trying to capture it in her mouth.IMG_5430IMG_5440

We moved the game camera to deeper woods and will report back on what we find.

47 thoughts on “Wildlife

  1. I so enjoyed seeing your wildlife from Alaska and Maine. Every day we were driving through Alaska I was on the lookout for wildlife and we would stop for me to take pictures if we could. I love the pictures from the game camera. And Zoe with the snow blower just brought a smile to by face!

    • Thanks Beth. Wildlife was an integral part of life in Alaska. Moose were everywhere–even right in the middle of Anchorage. And we had to think about bears every time we went for a hike, or even a walk. I don’t miss the bears.

      We are really enjoying the game camera. The animals are pretty wary here, so it’s a nice way to spy on them! Zoe’s reaction to the snowblower has been hilarious. She seems to think it’s for her entertainment.

  2. Fabulous post. I love the moose peeping round the tree!
    Those game cameras are such fun. I found the trouble with having it deep in the woods was the lower light level. Ours turned itself on to night mode even in broad daylight!

    • Thanks so much. George took that moose photo in the horse paddock next to our house in Anchorage. The game cameras are fun, aren’t they? We’ll have to see how it does in the woods. I suspect that your woods are shadier than ours, but we may have the same problem. Have you seen much on yours?

  3. What a marvelous post…..how I enjoyed it. I checked out all the wildlife shots over and over! You are blessed with wildlife wherever you live it seems! I loved the foxes….they will eat anything though. Zoe has me smiling…what a dog eh?xxx

    • Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. We like to live in the back-of-beyond, so get plenty of animals around. If we kept chickens, I’m sure we’d be unhappy with the foxes. But, since we don’t, we’ve been enjoying them. As long as they don’t eat Zoe. And yes, she is quite a dog.

    • Thanks Judy. We encountered moose all of the time in Alaska. Common as dirt (well, almost). They are very large, very fast, and vaguely prehistoric looking. Very startling when you come upon them unexpectedly. I’m sure there are plenty in Maine and New Hampshire, but I suspect that they are quite wary of people. Not like Anchorage moose, who wander freely right through town and occasionally get tangled in Christmas lights and clotheslines.

  4. Like you, I don’t have chickens, so I welcome the foxes (which keep those pesky woodchucks under control). Do you think you have a deer yard in your woods? This would make the Maine Fish and Wildlife Department happy; they worry about the loss of deer yards to development. I saw my first deer tracks of the winter on my dirt road today. Maybe they’re out feeding during the relatively mild weather of the January thaw. Since this winter is milder than last, we should probably assume that more deer will survive the winter and be in our gardens looking for food in spring. I have some vulnerable plants that I usually protect with netting as soon as I can get to them in late March or early April, but mostly deer leave my garden alone during the summer if I’m here and walking around to leave my scent.
    I occasionally see moose tracks on my dirt road, but almost never see the moose that leave them. I think you are right that the moose here are more wary (which is probably why they have a less fierce reputation here than they do in Alaska).

    • I’m not sure if our woods would qualify as a deer yard, but it’s possible. The deer population in the midcoast is quite high, which is why we have so much Lyme Disease in our county. I’m hoping that our presence, and Zoe’s presence, will continue to keep the deer out of the gardens. We were fortunate last year. The turkeys, rabbits, raccoons, and deer left the veggies alone (the raised beds may have helped some). I doubt we’ll be so lucky this year. We prefer not to have a fence, but are resigned to one, if necessary.

  5. Moose! In your garden! How completely brilliant. Not sure about bears, though. I’m sure it’s wonderful being able to feed the birds all year round now – they’re all beautiful. Lovely post. Sam x

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Sam. The moose were a real pest. They would come through and eat everything to the ground in one night. I couldn’t grow perennials and every year, just as the brussels sprouts were about ready to harvest, the moose would eat them all up.

      I love the birds here and it’s such a pleasure not to worry about bears at the feeder!

  6. Terrific post. I so enjoyed seeing the pictures of wildlife in Alaska and wildlife in Maine. And that Zoe! She’s the star. Reminds me of a little song that was on Sesame Street when my children were young: “J, Jump, Joyful, Jumble around.”

  7. Wonderful photos, as always. I do sometimes miss the wildlife of Alaska. But I bet you didn’t miss that 7.1 earthquake. I still have friends there, in Chitina. They said there were actually 2 quakes. Anyway, glad you are safe and sound and enjoying all the birds in Maine. I am amazed at how verdant it is there. And it has been your posts that helped me see that. Thanks.

    • Ooohh, I’m glad I wasn’t there for that quake–well, as you said, two quakes actually. The building that I used to work in was very scary during quakes. It was designed to roll, so we would get a lot of movement and noise, even in the smaller quakes. I dove under my desk more than once. Everyone (except those there in 64) said this was the scariest quake they’d ever been in. Not fun.

      It is wonderfully verdant here. Four seasons, lots of green, lots of sun–pretty sweet!

  8. Wow the wildlife in Alaska and Maine is wonderful and some of it is so different to ours. After following a few blogs I have got used to hearing about bears being close neighbours. What is the red bird called? Sarah x

    • The red bird is a cardinal. When I was growing up, it seldom came this far north but, along with the bluebirds, overwinter here now. They have a distinctive “chip chip” call and look amazing against the snow. I was not too fond of the bears. Every year in Alaska there were unfortunate encounters, maulings and deaths. There are bears in Maine, but they are smaller and more shy.

  9. What an amazing number of animals you lived alongside in Alaska. Do the moose ever get aggressive? I think I would worry if I came face to face with one. I had to look closely to find the moose on the Power-line Pass trail, then I gasped when I saw how BIG it was. Bears in the back yard would worry me too. Maine animals seem friendlier and the birds are lovely. I think you will have to fence off the vegie garden very quickly before those deer find it. Dear old Zoe. The dogs on the farm used to love playing in the spray of water when we back flushed the pumps, they would go crazy barking and jumping through the water.

    • Yes, moose can be very dangerous. They are huge, with powerful kicks and sharp hooves. It’s wise to give them a wide berth. We had to turn around several times on hikes because of moose on the trail.
      I fear you are right on the deer but I think we’ll take our chances and see what happens before we put in a fence. We may regret it!

  10. I could almost see that bear on his back licking the birdseed off of his hands and feet. Great photos of your “seasonal neighbors”

    • We do have our share of interesting animals roaming about. I know the foxes can be a pest but the young ones are like adorable puppies and the adults are gorgeous too.

  11. How spectacular to live in such a place! And your flying rats!! Oh my!! Here in coastal Georgia we go quite crazy over just one or two! Your lab is dear – reminds me of our first yellow lab who was stocky and light colored like yours. She was the best!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Jayne. When I first moved to Alaska, I was mesmerized by the eagles because, as you said, they were so rare on the east coast where I grew up. Funny how familiarity does breed, well … not contempt exactly, but a certain “ho-hum another eagle” attitude.
      Zoe is a very special dog, a bit like having a loving toddler in the house.
      I love coastal Georgia and am looking forward to reading your blog.

  12. A stunning array of nature photos here. I had to look closely to see the moose in the road, camouflaged well in the bush there. Presume you have no poultry or would not be so delighted by some of your visitors. That game camera is better than any television show!

  13. These photos are evidence of a wonderful adventure! Love your pup too – My first pup was an English Lab too – a Chocolate 🙂 Loved the wildlife photos here – Alaska must be an amazing place 🙂

    • Thanks so much. Alaska is extraordinary–a very special place. And Zoe is a special dog! As for English Labs, there’s something about the strong body and wide face that is extra appealing, don’t you think?

      • Ohh I couldn’t agree more about those English Blockheads LOL! My Chocolate was just like your Zoe, big and brawny, built like an American Football Player haha! I love their big heads and they have the best wiggly bums ever! Sadly we had to say goodbye to our Chocolate boy a few years ago, but his memory lives on in laughter and remembrance of his comical ways. Zoe looks like she has that same humorous spirit 🙂

  14. Great Pic’s of Alaska and Maine. From what we can see on the news, you’re having huge snowfalls there. Wonder what wildlife will visit your camera in its new spot.

    • Actually, the snow headed out to sea south of here and we didn’t get a flake. We have been having freaky springlike weather and almost all of our snow has melted.

  15. Gorgeous! Mooses (meese?) and foxes (fese?) galore! I’m glad that both your homes have provided such interesting neighbors. Cheers from a city, where the pigeons are offset by the occasional squirrel.

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