Memorial Day Weekend

Look who made an appearance this weekend!

Maxwell Moose!

Some families stayed Thursday through Sunday. Others booked Friday to Monday. But all in all, we were full this weekend! A big wave to everyone who joined in the fun!

The weather was nice . . . there were even kids swimming in the pool and the lake yesterday!

This little guy marched in our Pots and Pans Parade Saturday with the noisemaker he made at Arts and Crafts. Look at all his red, white and blue!

We also had the water balloon slingshot out both Saturday and Sunday. One young man won two ice creams! He told me it was his favorite part of the weekend.

Other activities included volleyball, a teen ping pong tournment, horseshoes, bubble play, storytime, movies, whiffle ball, jewelry making, hayrides, kids games, ceramics and Trash Bag Theater . . .

Here’s the five casts with the props they were randomly given. I’m told they created some un-for-gettable performances!

Next weekend . . . an Ice Cream Party with pot luck Toppings …  Yum!

Maine Wildlife Park

Just about eight miles south of us, right on Rt. 26, is the Maine Wildlife Park.   It’s been a family favorite of ours since Alex was born 19 years ago, and I recommend it over and over and over again to our campers.

Wild animals that are injured, abandoned or have become human dependent are housed in The Park.  Most are here permanently for their safety because they couldn’t survive on their own in the wild.  I could talk for hours about the positive changes I’ve seen through the years, mostly through volunteer services . . .  Larger living areas for the animals; new trails; informational exhibits . . .

B and I visited The Maine Wildlife Park last week.  Before my camera’s batteries ran out, we saw these cuties:

lots of deer

bobcat

black bear

moose calf

Through the rest of the visit, I kept whining over my dead batteries until Ben said, “You’ll just have to come back, Mom.  I’ll come too, if you want.”  You would have whined too, if you saw the cool stuff we did.  Imagine these:

The mountain lion, sitting up tall on top of his rock, surveying his kingdom.

The coyote was sleeping, but the fisher was running back and forth, back and forth in his cage. He was bigger than I thought he’d be.  And the claws on his feet . . . whoa!

The albino porcupine came out for a minute.  He was kind of an odd looking fellow.  Eventually, he slowly lumbered back into his log.  The raccoon was adorable, though.  He calmly watched everyone going by.

The eagle sat high on his perch, looking down over the turtle pond and the wetlands trail.  His enclosure is relatively new, and very impressive.

The peacocks were in rare form, screeching over and over, while fanning their feathers.

At the turtle pond, Ben tried very hard to find all the species listed on the information board.  I didn’t realize how many of them were endangered.

Ben and I also discovered the hawk we saw this winter was really a Cooper’s hawk. The red tailed hawk was much bigger.  We also got a very close look at the Barre and Great Horned owls!

Throughout the park are signs like these:

and interactive displays like these

to help educate and entertain.

There’s three different trails you can wander along, too.  The Tree Trail identifies the different varieties of Maine trees. The Game Trail challenges you to find as many different animal silhouettes as you can.    And the wetland trail offers a chance to see birds (Ben saw a veriole!), turtles and fish.

I recommend you bring a picnic lunch.  There’s a nice pine grove area with picnic tables and B-B-Q grills right inside the entrance of The Park.  After lunch, you can buy a drink, ice cream or other treat at the snack shack.  Then visit the Nature Store for fun and/or educational souvenirs.  Ben picked out a really cool whistle/compass combination to carry on our hiking trips this summer.  I bought some posters to go in our rec room . . . aaaaaaand a pair of silver, dragonfly earrings.  I couldn’t resist!

Feeding the animals people food, is not permitted.  But bring plenty of quarters because you’ll find animal food machines to feed the bear, deer, pheasants, ducks, geese, and turkeys.  And if you walk all the way down to the end of the fish hatchery, you can feed the fish too.

On Thursdays in July and August, there’s Story Time with a craft at 11:00am.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, there’s animal talks at 11:00am and 1:00pm.

For more information on prices, directions and such, click on the link on the right.  You can’t go wrong with this day trip!

The Eagle Family

One of my Spring Special campers, Joyce Thompson, took these shots last weekend of the eagle family!

copyright Joyce Thompson 2008

copyright Joyce Thompson 2008

Aren’t they gorgeous???

Joyce said she only saw the one baby, so it looks as if he’s going to get Mom and Dad’s undivided attention this year.

While I was at the lake late yesterday, I watched as one of the adult eagles swooped a loon who was fishing nearby. He didn’t touch the loon at all, but it was definitely a warning. After that, the loon moved away from our point.

This makes me a little sad, because I enjoy them both.

Horsedrawn Hayrides

Just a small sprinkle of rain this morning, but otherwise a gorgeous weekend.  You just can’t pay any attention to those weathermen!

Bryant arrived today, ready and eager to run some recreation activities.  He started with Arts and Crafts, where the kids made cool glasses.  As usual, he couldn’t resist making a pair for himself:

Afterward, he tried something new for kids games.  Super-sized marbles!  He used various sized balls instead of marbles, but kept the same rules.  The kids thought it was a blast, and I wish I could have gotten pictures for you.

A few turned out for horseshoes too . . . our first organized game of the season.

The highlight of the weekend though was horsedrawn hayrides by No Baloney Pony of New Gloucester

Jim took our campers for several rides around the campground, in and out the driveway and back around the camp.  Those beautiful work horses pulled the wagon up and down the hills like it was filled with marshmallows.

Jim told us the horses weighed 2,000 pounds each!

No Baloney Pony will be back on June 7th with their wagon.  They’ll also be back to give complimentary pony rides to our littlest campers on June 21st, Tuesdays in July, as well as August 6th, 12th and 19th.

Come join the fun!

We have babies!

So, I heard a rumor this weekend. I couldn’t take just anyone’s word for it though. I had to check it out myself.

Leashing Cookie and grabbing Dave’s camera, I headed for the lake. Mother Eagle was huddled up, sitting on the edge of the nest. It was cold and windy. Still, I hunkered down and focused my camera on the nest.

Sure enough, after about ten minutes I saw this:

The little guy kept bobbing up and down. I think there’s two, but I never saw two heads at the same time, so I can’t confirm that yet.

Seeing him, reminded me of the time I was unexpectedly invited to tag along with the biologist who banded the babies born in 2005. My daughter was so jealous!

The biologist, who’s name was Bill, climbed the tree with his spiky boots and lowered the six week old babies in a burlap bag to his team on the ground. I was expecting cute little, fluffy chicks. This is what I saw:

Little chicks indeed!

Mom Eagle left the island before the boat even landed. She didn’t go too far though. We heard her call several times during the hour we were out there. I thought she might dive bomb the biologist, who stayed at the top of the tree so he wouldn’t damage it too much going up and down a bunch of times. But Mother Eagle didn’t even come to check out her chicks. Nor did the chicks struggle.

The team worked fast . . .

That red band can be seen from the ground with binoculars!

The team measured wings and claws, then drew blood to test the baby’s mercury levels. While all this was going on with baby #1, baby #2 sat quietly nearby and watched. Mom called a couple of times, but still, she kept her distance.

When both birds were tested, they then put one of the babies back in the bag and the biologist pulled him up, putting him safely back into the nest. As Bill was pulling up the second baby, Mom flew overhead with a gosling in her talons. Seeing the biologist, she flew off again. I was reassured by the team that she’d be back after we cleared off the island. (And she did too)

Before Bill came down, he had me pass up my camera in the bag so he could snap a picture of the babies in the nest itself. That’s the photo you see on the bottom right of the eagle link on the campground website.

Bill told me the nest weighed approximately 700 lbs and the tree is a soft red pine, so he was going to recommend not banding at this location again for fear of damaging the tree too much. It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me!

A word of caution: foot traffic on the eagle island is not permitted. Because eagles are still endangered, you can be fined for being that close without permission. Game Wardens do police the lake from the water and air quite often.

Please, watch wildlife from a distance.

Happy Mother’s Day!

They predicted rain . . .

instead we had a gorgeous weekend!

While Mom’s relaxed, the kids went to Arts and Crafts to make these:

Flower Pens!  The pot above is mine from Ben . . . isn’t it pretty!?

This morning, we had a special pancake breakfast in honor of Moms.  It was free of charge, as long as at least one family member helped cook, clean up or

serve.  All the kid servers were awesome, bringing us orange juice, pancakes, bacon and coffee!  Yum!  It was a great way to start the day.

But don’t take just my word for it, check out the smiles on these Mom’s . . .

Happy Mother’s Day to all our camping Moms, whereever you may be!

Next weekend . . . Horse drawn Hayrides.

Interesting Birds

A couple days ago, Dave was cutting trees when he heard the unmistakable sound of the pileated woodpecker. Rat-tat-tat-tat echoed loudly through the woods. We’ve been trying to catch this incredible bird in action for years, but they’re elusive. Seeing us, the woodpecker would hide itself on the opposite side of the tree and we’d go round and round in circles.

But Dave outsmarted him this time, by having JMoney (our maintenance man) move around the tree while he stood still with the camera.

Pileated Woodpeckers are 16 to 19″ (according to this website) with a wingspan of 26 to 30″.

They drill rectangular holes in trees to find ants. These holes can be so deep, smaller trees will sometimes break. Usually, I’ll see wood slivers dusting the ground at the base of the tree before I’ll see the hole he’s been working on.

We’ve also had this visitor to our feeder this past week:

a baltimore oriole! I love these birds . . . one of my fondest memories was Grandpa standing at the foot of his apple tree, calling to them. They actually answered.

I only see them in May, when they eat the oranges I put out for them. I believe they use the nectar to build their gourd shaped nest.

A few weeks ago, Dave and Ben saw this guy hanging around the bird feeder:

It’s kind of hard to see him clearly, but we think he’s a Red Tailed Hawk. He’s a sit and wait predator . . . obviously sitting and waiting for the squirrels and birds that visit my feeder. We only saw him that week, then he was gone.

Today is Friday, and I’m expecting approximately forty check-ins! Most are taking advantage of our Spring Weekend Special. Five consecutive weekends, for one low price. Campers arrive on Friday’s and go home Sundays, but leave their equipment right on site (storage really). We do this again in the Fall; click on our website on the right there, and go to our Campground Calendar to read all about it.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone out there! Check back late Sunday or early Monday for some pic’s from breakfast and arts and crafts . . .

Clean Up Weekend

What a fabulous crew we had this weekend!

It all started Thursday, when Dave gave the boy scouts a lesson in planting trees . .  . 

Then on Friday, 55 campers rolled in to participate in our annual Clean Up Weekend.  It’s free, in exchange for approximately five hours raking sites and planting trees on Saturday.  We met some new campers, and welcomed back some regulars who’ve been helping us for 8+ years now.

The big day was overcast . . . and   brrrrrrrrr   chilly!  But everyone was out and about by 8am, eager to get going!

We fed the hungry workers

Then they got to work!

Believe it or not, we actually had a couple sites with snow and ice under the leaves!

Here’s  a couple before pictures

the main street

and site 1.

And here’s what they looked liked after . . .

What a difference!  132 sites raked, as well as the roads, playground, fire circle, around the pool and the game room!  What used to take me a full month, raking every day, is now accomplished in a few hours thanks to these energetic campers.

But they weren’t done. Oh, no!   I then gave out about forty trees to happy, smiling faces like these

I can’t tell you how it warms my heart to see so many kids (and adults) eager to plant trees off the sides of their sites.  It’s such a wonderful, important thing they do . . . replacing young trees that are inevitably damaged during the course of a camping season.

Thanks so much to all our helpers this weekend! We couldn’t have done it without you!