Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pond Cove, some big things, and a blogging hiatus

Headed to Kent Island on our caretaker's boat, Island Bound
So I've been a little busy lately.  And it shows in the number of blog posts I've been making.  But as can happen, life has gotten a little crazy.

Damon and  I are embroiled in the midst of our normal annual craziness -- getting ourselves, a dozen undergraduates, all our gear, and most of our food out to Kent Island in New Brunswick.  This involves finding a dog-sitter, stopping the mail (although I am realizing just as I write this that I forgot to do that!), packing two giant bins of ratty field clothes, cleaning the house as spotless as possible, reassuring parents, getting our office work done, and then herding cats all the way across the border, onto boats, and over to the island.

Since this regular brand of craziness hasn't pushed us over the top (yet), we decided to add a little more into our lives:  we are selling our house in order to downsize to a smaller home (and life).  I'll write a bit more about it when the ink is dry, but in essence, we had too much house, not enough warm weather to work on it, and a hankering for "less".  In the meantime, it's meant lots of home repairs and staging, paperwork to be signed, and extra stress added to our spring.

That hasn't stopped me from getting out and exploring, but has dug into my writing time by quite a lot.  So I'm going to take a little blogging break, in order to get through the next month.  We (hopefully, if all goes as planned) pass papers to sell our wonderful house AND buy a little condo on June 19, and after that I feel like I'll be able to breathe again.

Before I go, I wanted to share a terrific visit I had to Pond Cove in Cape Elizabeth with a Meetup group called "Southern Maine Tide Poolers."  This awesome group is the brainchild of Megan McCuller, a young biologist from Portland. It's just a bunch of people who like to look at cool stuff in the ocean, who meet up at dig around in tidepools.  Brilliant.  
Tiny barnacles that have just settled out of the plankton and onto rocks.  They love rough surfaces best, so you tend to find them all lined up in the cracks of rocks.  Note you can see this pattern in the big ones too.
We met this month at Pond Cove in Cape Elizabeth.  I'd never been there, so it was really exciting to find a new spot to tidepool.  This is a great place -- parking at the land trust lot, good rocky tidepools full of cool stuff, and a terrific shallow cobble pool perfect for kids to get into.  If you'll forgive me, I'm going to just post some pics and get onto the work I have to do on the island today.  But if you like tidepooling, check out the Meetup group -- it was really fun!

A tidepool out in the breaking waves

This green crab was carrying eggs -- but was dead.  Interestingly, we found TONS of Asian shore crabs and no green crabs.  This is a trend I've heard others mention this spring too.  What's up with that?

Horse mussels and coralline algae

Poking around in a tidepool

The cobbles are a great place for kids to turn over rocks and find cool stuff
TO GET THERE:  From US1 in Portland, take Rt 77 south; cross the bridge over Portland Harbor. In South Portland, Rt 77 turns right and becomes Ocean St -- do not turn with it but go straight on Broadway to Cottage Rd and turn right. This road becomes Shore Road.  After Fort Williams State Park, go another Mile and look for the parking lot for Robinson Woods (thanks Cape Elizabeth Land Trust).  Look just across the road; you'll see a path with a little "Pond Cove" sign.  Follow this and you're there!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Investigative Reporting: Warren's Lobster House

How could you resist a place with a giant lobster out front?  I never can!  And the Seacoast's finest salad bar?  I mean really.  

Anja and I headed down to Ipswich Mass last weekend to check out the grand opening of my friend's 1634 Meadery, and we just had to stop in Kittery to check this place out.  I've always wanted to eat over on Badger Island (because it's in a cool spot), but the lobster place over there lost its lease.  So Warren's it was.

It was a good sign that two priests led the procession of people as we all jammed in just as they opened.  Warren's looks to be the after-church-lunch place in this town (but they let heathens like me in too).  

And yes, they did have a great salad bar.  And a great JUMBO lobster roll (with a jumbo price of $29 to go along with it . . . .)  But it was a great stop.

That's a lot of lobster!

The view from our booth.

Anja doesn't really like seafood I guess.  She had chicken.

Old time kind of place.

A good lobster roll is always worth the drive.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Alewife Report: May 4, 2015

It's not too late!  Go to their website to sign up!
Where there's a will, there's a way.  That's the take home from the Nequasset fish ladder in Woolwich. I'm signed up to count fish coming over the ladder for the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, which manages the ladder along with a bunch of other organizations.  Just like last year, the first week of counting was cancelled due to cold water.  Alewives won't just climb ladders at any old temperature; they're quite specific about their preferences.  From years of research, we know these tenacious little fish are rather fond of 55 degrees, and we were expecting them to hold off until the water in Nequasset Lake got a little balmier than it is just now (it's around 50 now).

But some of our little friends decided they've waited long enough.  After reports last week that the fish were schooling at the mouth of the Kennebec, I took a look at the Google Doc we use to sign up (which it's not too late to do!) and lo and behold, the fish are starting to run.  Go fish, go!

So off Dory and I went, ready to count up a storm of alewives.  There were fish in the ladder, but sadly, none came over the final rung while I was counting.  But it was great to get out there and take a look at the renovated ladder.  Very fancy, and hopefully easier for the fish to get up (that's why we're counting, to see how well the renovation worked).

I'm expecting next week will see the ladder overrun with fish, but 'til then, here's what it looked like:

The ladder from above . . . 
. . .  and below.  Notice the gulls in both these photos, waiting for an easy meal!
Where they fish; the A-frame is for lifting nets of fish.
The net.
Fish scales on the sides of the box; probably decades' worth.
 This is what the fishing area looks like:

A fish in the fishing area, who knows how it got in since that area is closed off right now:

And here are the fish coming up the chutes:

Dory, being a Very Brave Science Dog:

Interested in alewives?  This is one of the GREAT migrations of the world -- right here in Maine. Get out there and check it out.  Here are 3 great places to see the run -- do it in the next few weeks!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Is this crazy?

You read that right:  elvers, little baby eels, are being bought for $1900 a pound.

Elver fyke nets in Camden.

Surprising any fish make it past these nets at all!

I've wanted to look into elvers more for awhile, but this spring has been crazy with personal stuff (which I will write about later).  So I'm just posting these quick photos with the hope that next year I can do more on this crazy seafood market.