May in ME! Yes, I am back in Maine, hitting its shores on the sixth of May. Here in West Point, the grass needed mowing, the Lupine are sending up their fingered leaves, and the Forsythia is frothing with vivid yellow blossoms! The sun cooked up in those first days and for heaven’s sakes, I was out weeding in shorts! It has since drifted into more seasonal temperatures complete with showers and thunderstorms; needless to say, I’m back in woolies.

And yes, you want to know about the Hermit, so here goes….Our first trip over to the island found us stopping to see several Snowy Egrets poking in the mud as they carefully walked here and there on those forsythia-colored feet! We drove down the island and flushed out a few more egrets and a Great Blue Heron in the small wetland to the left as you start down the island. I didn’t detect new activity around the hawk’s nest. I wonder if it is too early, or they may bypass our site for quieter quarters. Time will tell.

On Tuesday, May 9, I finally pulled free to wander after the rains tapered to a fine drizzle. I eagerly set out on a deserted Head Beach. Eiders, Mergansers and Black Scoters cruised the shoreline. On shore, it is always interesting to see how the sands have shifted in time. It was as if the sand had built up on the east and west ends, exposing the ledges that cut into the middle of the beach. The large driftwood with the carved head is still in place, but surrounded by exposed rocks and various large driftwood timbers.

As I surveyed the scene, I noticed small birds flitting about the strand line and alighting on the snow fence. There were bright – again, forsythia-colored Yellow Warblers and Yellow Rumps. None stood still for long, so the binoculars were useless. The strand line was mostly awash with seaweeds, but the Irish Moss stood out in patterns of rosy red. It had been exposed to the sun long enough to start bleaching from the brown, characteristic of attached, living growth. I picked up some of the seaweed and out jumped creatures that must surely have attracted the birds.

Over by the rocks of Joe’s Head, there were more colorful warblers discovering the lure of Head Beach. I marveled at their colors, taking note of one’s orange throat, and another’s yellow throat streaked with black. There were "highlights" of gray, white and black as if an artist took liberties with the plumage paintbrush! I consulted my field guide and identified these beauties as Blackburnian and Magnolia warblers. I had never seen them so close up. Previously, I had strained to catch their colors high amidst treetop foliage. Here, on the dark brown and deep red seaweeds, they looked like a child’s toy bobbing about. What a treat under the gray skies of a threatening early May day!

I grudgingly left the birds to their feasting, and followed the trails to other beaches on the South end. Only one camper was set up on Joe’s Head, and two kayaks were poised for use under brighter skies. I noticed the Rugosa rose was leafing out along with Beach Peas. Strawberries bloomed in profusion on Breakwater Point. The Lily Pond was almost full to overflowing, but the frogs were silenced by the cold. I detected no birds feeding in the fresh water.

I wound my way further North – it was high tide or I would have gone to Starfish Cave. I saw no deer, only tracks and their scat. I thought of blueberries as I eyed their flowers, now in bloom. Starflower leaves gave promise of their white blossoms to come. Goldthread, however, is already issuing forth its delicate flowers.

Turning back, I followed the trails from campsite to campsite. I was stopped in my tracks, however, by a dead porcupine. It had started to decompose and quills were everywhere. I thought of dogs and barefoot kids coming across this impediment…and cleared the area, but have every intention of coming back for the bones as decay proceeds. I didn’t take chances on losing the skull, and brought it home in a baggie.

This may be the year of skeletons and bones! I am ready to assemble my moose bones on an early outing, and perhaps the porcupine is next. Roger says there is a dead deer on the island, so I will be trying to locate that before too many bones are hauled away by calcium seeking critters.

Well, as you can see, May in ME can be a beautiful and interesting place. Keep tuned as the days unfold…

Ronnie, reporting in, on May 11, 2000. West Point, Maine