Pemaquid, Waxwings, and the February Garden

We live in the hills and look out on more hills. When the light is just right, a shimmering sliver of water is illuminated on the far edge of our view, letting us know that the ocean is not far away. We decided recently to take a short road trip to the ocean at Pemaquid Point. It lies south of us, on one of a series of irregular peninsulas, formed by glaciers, and extending into the Atlantic between Rockland and Bath. IMG_5729
At Pemaquid, the land ends with a series of striated ledges extending into the water. IMG_5670A small lighthouse and bellhouse perch above. IMG_5665A woman was swept into the sea from these rocks the week before our visit. IMG_5676.jpgIt was during a swell arising from the storm that dumped snow on most of the east coast, but swerved out to sea below Maine. The swell produced some towering waves and one of them took the woman right in. IMG_5693.jpgFortunately, she was fished out with some injuries and hypothermia, but alive. IMG_5678.jpg
Although the sea was less lively during our visit, I stayed high on the rocks. Where I stood, when I looked inland, the sky was brilliantly blue IMG_5712.jpgIMG_5715and, when I turned to the water, there was a bank of shore clouds in beautiful, almost tubular row formations. IMG_5745Unfortunately, my picture-taking was cut short when I found my extra battery was dead. We’ll be back. IMG_5714
Soon after our Pemaquid trip, a flock of Bohemian Waxwings invaded. They have been here off-and-on for over a week. Β They fly in over the valley and first settle on one of the larger trees, all facing in the same direction. IMG_6090IMG_6106After some time, with a great swoosh of wings, they all descend on a tree still covered with apples, where they noisily gorge on the likely fermented fruit and then wheel off again. IMG_5776.jpgIMG_5774Their post-feeding frenzy flights appear somewhat haphazard. Perhaps they are a little drunk. IMG_5783But they settle on a large tree again, compose themselves, and fly away in a neat formation again. Β IMG_5778At first I thought they were cedar waxwings and there may be a few in the flock. But most seem to be Bohemians. IMG_5780


This distance shot is blown up, with poor resolution, but you can see the beautiful wing markings.

In any case, they are gorgeous birds and extremely entertaining.

Finally, inspired by bloggers in England, Ireland, and Australia, showing a lovely array of colorful February blooms, I thought I’d share our February garden. After unseasonably warm weather on Thursday, we were unexpectedly blanketed by almost 12″ of snow on Friday. IMG_5865.jpgAs a result, our February garden consists of empty seed pods,IMG_5995.jpg
rocks in snow,IMG_5944
berries in snow, IMG_6003.jpg
spruce in snow,IMG_6057
shriveled rosehips in snow,IMG_6016
a few baby cones,IMG_6044.jpg
and Zoe.IMG_5881IMG_5887

50 thoughts on “Pemaquid, Waxwings, and the February Garden

    • Thank you. It was quite dark looking seaward, but the clouds were stunning. The waxwings! They have been such a pleasure to watch. I have been happily surprised by the variety of birds here in the winter. Maybe your waxwings got really bohemian and ventured over here.

  1. Thank you for the beautiful lighthouse and sky shots, the gorgeous birds, the warning to never get too close to water’s edge when it is rolling in from a storm, and the chuckles I enjoyed looking at your garden. Your garden looks just like my garden. We received 10″ on Friday and are forecasted for 6″ more tomorrow. Even though Mother Nature gives us breaks here and there, I think she is texting us a message that winter is not over. Stay warm. πŸ™‚

    • I absolutely love the snow and we’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t keep our cross country skis when we left Alaska. Time to buy some new ones, I guess. The combination of fresh snow and sunshine here is almost intoxicating.
      I’m still enjoying the slower pace of winter and the garden planning and dreaming phase. Stay warm (and dry) yourself!

  2. Wow!!! Every time I think I have seen some of the best photographs ever in the blogworld, you come up with better ones in the next post. Your header image is fantastic. The photos throughout your post were just as good.

    • Thanks Steve. As we drove down the peninsula, I was disappointed that the sun hadn’t come out yet. But when I stepped out of the car and saw those clouds, I was thrilled. I take so many photographs of the sky here, it’s ridiculous–but our sky is always changing and continues to amaze me.

  3. Wow! That’s a big flock of Bohemian Waxwings. What a beautiful sight. I hadn’t heard about the woman being swept off the rocks at Pemaquid. I guess she was lucky that the same El Nino pattern that takes many storms out to sea to our south also has kept the Gulf of Maine considerably warmer than it would normally be at this time of year.

    • There was a short article about the woman in the Bangor paper and, actually, it’s what prompted us to make the trip. We had been wanting to go to Pemaquid for months, but never got around to it. You are right about the water temperature–she was fortunate.

  4. Bohemian Waxwings are my favorite bird, I have never seen a large flock like that….amazing! It is quite nice to drive to the coast this time of year, aside from the very different look, it is not bombarded with people. One last thing, we have a wonderful yellow lab ( actually more white in color ) named Miller…I think he would like to be pen pals with the beautiful Zoe!

    • I went back to one photo with the whole flock of waxwings perched in the tree and roughly counted about 400 birds. The sound of their wings when they take off is just incredible. They have been such a pleasure to watch this week, I hope we keep them around a little longer.
      Is Miller your greeter dog? Labs are such sociable creatures. Scratch Miller’s ears from Zoe!

      • Mill;er is a great nursery greeter…loves people, loves food, loves to stretch himself out in the grass for a good slumber. Right now a good stretch in front of the fire. He is almost always happy go lucky….a goof really. I bet he and Zoe would be great pals….not saying Zoe is a goof, I’m sure she is quite the lady!

  5. Those cloud formations are quite amazing, they look stormy. I loved the photo of the waxwings all perched and facing the same way. What fun they would be to watch their antics and I had to chuckle at your February garden photos and dear old Zoe. I’ll look forward to the emerging of spring in your next post.

    • The weather was changing from stormy to crystal clear and those clouds were right at the edge of the front. We arrived at just the right time.
      We didn’t move in here until late May, so I’m looking forward to seeing if we have any early spring blooms. I planted a few bulbs, but don’t know if the previous owner did as well. I’ll keep you posted.

      • Looking at what has already appeared in your garden I think the previous owner will certainly have spring flowers waiting to surprise and delight you.

    • Thanks so much Beth. It is going to be fun for us to see the garden unfold this spring. We have no idea what may come up in March and April although I know we will have plenty of pussywillows!

  6. Wonderful sky shots! And being a “Mainah,” I love the landscape in winter—the berries, the rocks, the seed pods. Best of all, of course, is Zoe. who looks as though she has a wonderful zest for life. Ah, dogs!

    • The sky here is spectacular. Something I didn’t expect. The Connecticut and Massachusetts skies, where I grew up, were obscured by trees and barely discernible. When I moved out West, I fell fast and hard for the wide and ever-changing skies. Oddly, it felt like coming home.
      One reason we were reluctant to move back East was because of the claustrophobic, no-sky world. But this area of Maine, at least, is a sky-gazers paradise.
      I’m with you on the winter landscape–spare, clean, and providing such a brilliant backdrop to shapes (fractal, mounded, scraggly), and the unexpected splashes of color. I love it. But I had to laugh at the contrast of our snowy world with the sweet, delicate, emerging flowers on other blogs. You nailed Zoe–she is abundantly, zestfully alive. Pure joy.

      • In no particular order
        1. Hawaii’s too expensive
        2. We wanted to be closer to our family on the east coast
        3. Uncrowded
        4. Ocean and lakes
        5. Affordable land
        6. Four seasons
        7. Wonderful gardening, not too many icky creepy-crawlies
        8. The people
        9. The local farming and food
        10. The culture (we are New Englanders by upbringing)
        11. It felt right

  7. Oh my goodness, that sky! Incredible clouds. And the waxwings – they are such glamorous birds, aren’t they? Such beauty and great shots here Brenda. I love your garden round-up – very funny. It’s a long time since I’ve seen snow like that. And Zoe – she’s a poppet.

    • Thank you Sam. The sky was unlike anything I’d ever seen and it made such a perfect backdrop for the rocks and lighthouse.

      Oh, glamorous is an apt description for the waxwings. It’s a bit like having a flock of Cleopatras settling onto a leafless oak. Very unexpected.

      As far as the garden goes, I have small surges of bloom envy, but mostly I’m enjoying our blanket of snow. Our spring will come.

      Poppet is such an expressive word, but not one we hear much in this part of the world. It fits Zoe well.

    • Waxwings get around, don’t they? We had them in Alaska, where they would devour mountain ash berries early every spring. They were a delightful surprise to me here. Gorgeous birds and their flock behavior is something to watch. I don’t think we would have seen them here if we didn’t have the one apple tree that is still heavy with fruit.

  8. The waxwings are lovely birds. I don’t think we have them here. I love that adorable picture of Zoe with her tongue slightly out and her paw over her face. It’s a beautiful gallery of shots. The cloud patterns are special, aren’t they? πŸ™‚

    • Waxwings are showy by our standards but nothing compared to your brilliant birds. I enjoy watching their flock behavior. It’s almost like a giant organism moving about and feeding. Zoe would live in the snow if she could. She should have been a sled dog. And the cloud patterns were really unusual, we were fortunate to be there just then, it cleared up completely soon after.

    • Thanks Gin. I do believe the birds were a bit drunk. Zoe adores the snow. First, she races around in it, tunneling her snout through the powder. Then she rolls, and rolls, and rolls. Then she snuggles in and lies there as if it’s the most comfortable bed possible.

  9. Wow that silver shimmering light is amazing! if I lived there I would be rushing to the sea to admire that light by the coast! Thank goodness that woman was rescued! Those waxwings are an incredible sight too! I knew your garden would look great, so nice to see it covered in snow and Zoe looks as if she is having such fun! Sarah x

    • We love our location because we are on a hill with vast skies, abundant sun, little fog, and gorgeous light. At the same time, we are only about 20 minutes from the coast, which often has different weather and skies, fog, and, of course, the water. It’s a nice combination.
      The garden looks like a downy blanket punctuated by random sticks. It’s just biding its time, though.

  10. Absolutely fabulous photos! You make winter in Maine look awfully good. And I’m so jealous of all those Cedar Waxwings – have only seen one in our garden in the 13 years we have lived here.

    • Well, thank you. Winter in Maine is awfully good. If you’re going to have a winter, Maine does it right. The waxwings were such a wonderful surprise. They are still stopping by, but I expect that they will move on soon. But, who knows? It’s our first winter here, so we just sit back and enjoy what comes.

  11. Your photographs are absolutely stunning. I felt completely transported into a place of quiet and solitude and beauty. Thank you. Nature is so nourishing, a way of totally recharging our human batteries. You certainly captured that!

    • You are much too kind. But thank you. We humans, a bunch of big-brain laden mammals, after all, are just one small part of nature. Anything that helps us realize the connection is valuable in my book. Maybe we need to dump folks into the boonies and see what happens!

  12. Wow, thanks for stopping by my blog. Yours is fabulous! I love your trip to Pemaquid (glad the lady was rescued; people who fall in the Potomac usually aren’t), which is beautiful. The capture of the layers of rock was amazing and the waxwings! I had no idea they migrated in groups like that. I’ve only seen 3 or four at a time and even one is a treat! I look forward to more from Maine, one of my favorite places!

    • Thanks for stopping by here too. We’re looking forward to returning to Pemaquid when it’s a little warmer and exploring the beach there. This is our first winter in Maine, so the waxwings were an unexpected treat. We have had a hawk and eagle hanging around lately. Maybe they’re following the waxwings!

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