In Hancock County, Maine
April here is full of tantalizing promises of good things to come. Millions of buds dot our leafless deciduous trees; migratory birds and fish return as our earliest tourists, and many of our wild residents are changing into their spring clothes and doing some courting. However, although it’s spring according to the celestial calendar, it’s not spring as advertised in lower latitudes.
Except for the blooming of a few daffodils and a forsythia bush here and there, April in Down East Maine is a meteorological grab bag: many cool-to-cold days, especially on the coast where the winds come to play; some gloomy days, some spectacularly beautiful days, and the rest somewhere in between; some fog and rain, and a little snow (as late as April 26 this year). In short, April is the beginning of a tunnel of anticipation that ends in the splendor of Maine’s summer and fall.
April’s delights include the return of the Ospreys. These sleek fish hunters glide and hover high above our waters on five- and six-foot wings while calling to each other with sharp “chereeks”; they plunge in full power dives, outstretched talons first, hitting the water and their prey with tremendous force. They often disappear below the surface before they emerge with a tightly-gripped fish that never knew what hit it.
On the other end of April’s wildlife spectrum here, the insects begin to emerge and the Warblers begin to return to eat them. These small birds that flit and sparkle among the branches are best seen before those branches sprout leaves. (However, that’s not to say that they are easy to see in April; you often can hear them singing from the depths of a leafless tree or bush and spend half an hour straining your eyes without seeing a feather.)
White-Tailed Deer and Wild Turkeys are among our full-time residents that change in April. The month is when the deer shed their thick, gray winter coats for lighter, russet-colored summer attire with no underfur. During the process, they can look a bit shabby.
On the other hand, April is when the adult male turkeys are at their sartorial finest in performing their strut-and-rut routine. These Toms put on a bizarre fashion parade for the hens, moving slowly back and forth while dragging their wings on the ground, then turning around and doing it again, all the while pumped up like a fan-tailed Sumo wrestler in an iridescent suit. (For a more detailed description of turkey strutting, see the Journal entry of April 18, below.)
One of the few other colorful April sights is the emergence of that hardy species known as the Early Bird Kayakers. Local paddling classes begin late in the month and cater to a crowd that doesn’t worry about sitting an inch above 48-degree water on a chilly day. This amuses other local mammals, including Harbor Seals.
If you want to take the whole 60-second virtual tour of moments that we'll use to remember April, click the link below. We recommend that your initial screening be a full-frame slideshow. (To make that happen, click on the Slideshow button above the featured [largest] image on the gallery page to which the link will take you.) Here's the link:
Barbara and Dick