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Rich Bard

Rich Bard photo courtesy of Rich BardRich Bard is a wildlife biologist who began his career as a zookeeper. Having spent most of his adult life moving around the country working with various wild animals, he settled near the coast of Maine in 2004. Amid the striking beauty of this remote region, he passes the time with his family, hiking, snowshoeing, gardening and watching the tide ebb and flow.

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Winter in Maine
Thursday, 21 February 2013 00:00  |  Written by Rich Bard | Blog Entry

Maine Winter photo by LoriIt's almost the end of February. Still the dead of winter in Maine. Night time temps regularly dip below 0º. Nothing but snow and ice as far as the eye can see. Skin gets all pasty white from lack of sun. (Not being the most racially diverse state in the US, most Mainers start the winter fairly white anyway.) People resort to desperate measures to help them through the rest of the winter: TV, alcohol, garden catalogs, full-spectrum lighting, ice hockey, you name it.

Although I'm in no real hurry to be done with winter, I suppose I'm as happy as the next guy to mark the baby steps of approaching spring. Most notable at this time of year is the steadily increasing day length. Back on the winter solstice (December 21), two of my friends exchanged their wedding vows amidst a blizzard of swirling snow, just as darkness fell, right around 3 p.m. It seems like just yesterday, but it’s hard to believe that was almost two months ago. Now, as I write this at 4:15 p.m., I can see those afternoon shades of red on the maple trees in the yard, telling me that the sun will soon set. Of course, I'm not the only one to notice such seasonal changes.

Bald eagles are pretty common in this neck of the woods. All winter long, they've been social, gathering happily anywhere near available food. It's an easy time for eagles near the shore. They can fish and hunt for ducks, but there is also much scavenging to do, with deer and other competitors succumbing to the cold or predators. Vultures flew south and bears are asleep, so eagles and ravens are left to enjoy the grisly spoils of the season.

Loafing about with your chums isn't bad for a few months, but all that is about to change for both the eagles and ravens. The latter part of February is when they start to think about renewing bonds with their mates, sprucing up the old nest or building a new one and getting on with the real business of being a bird, which is, of course, to make new birds.

My dog, Dennis, has teamed up with the local ravens to lay waste to the frozen heap that is my compost pile. When some guests braved our skating rink of a driveway the other day, Dennis greeted them, happily hauling around a colorful “composticle” made of broccoli, apple cores, lobster shells and coffee grounds. Spring cleanup will come soon enough.

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Comments (8)add
Written by KristaF , March 02, 2009
TerenceJ, I live in Bklyn too and actually Prospect Park is known for it's wildlife (birds really). Apparently it's the only natural woodlands left in Bklyn and also happens to be at the intersection of two major migratory routes, so there are about 250 different species of birds passing through each year. Greenwood Cemetery nearby boasts a wide variety of birds for the same reason.

PPark offers free birdwatching tours from the Audubon Center I've never done that but maybe this is the year :)
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Written by TerenceJ , March 02, 2009
Idaho and Maine residents, you are both lucky. I live in Brooklyn. The only wildlife I see are pigeons, squirrels and subway rats. Actually, there are also some ducks and seagulls in Prospect Park.
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Written by Jennifer Gilbert , March 01, 2009
Wow, it sounds like there is a wealth of wildlife there in Maine. I live in Idaho and have never seen more than one bald eagle in any one place at a time. I wonder what kind of programs are in place to keep the wildlife happy and healthy. I look forward to more interesting stories from Rich.
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Written by Fred Newcomer , February 28, 2009
Well. I know all about Maine winers now after having been snowed in for 6 days now. It certainly is spectacularly beautiful and quiet, so I'm really not complaining. I would rather be here than on the beach in San Diego. Nice blog site, Rich.... I'll keep checking for new developments.... keep up the great work. Fred
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Written by Abe Gilbert , February 26, 2009
The winter there sounds lovely, winter here is easier but I am going to move to a lower elevation where the snow is almost gone. I'm ready for spring.
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Written by Jane Plain , February 25, 2009
"composticle" - lol! Loved this snapshot of life in Maine. Here in New Mexico our nighttime temps can go as low as 0 degrees, but el sol reliably warms us up during the day. As I was tending to the thawing compost yesterday, I noticed little shoots of garlic emerging - spring is on the way!

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Written by Eric Hjerpe , February 24, 2009
Here in Hawai'i we don't get spring fever, but reading Rich's beautiful and evocative post certainly is getting my stomach rumbling, because he mentioned LOBSTER! I can't wait to contribute to that compost pile come summertime.
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Written by Karen Elliott , February 24, 2009
MMMM! You're giving me Spring Fever!!
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Away, away, from men and towns, / To the wild wood and the downs, — / To the silent wilderness, / Where the soul need not repress / Its music. - Percy Bysshe Shelley, (1792-1822), "To Jane, The Invitation," c.1820  More quotes...